Each season brings a slew of Holocaust-related books, but the spring 2006 line seems to be a particularly rich crop, including tales of personal heroism in the face of extreme danger; historical documents on Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt, and even a book of poems that envisions Franz Kafka had he lived to raise a family.
Another European literary giant figures prominently in Steven F. Sage’s Ibsen and Hitler: The Playwright, the Plagiarist, and the Plot for the Third Reich (Carroll & Graf, 384 pages, $28). Sage argues that Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was a primary influence on Hitler, and that three of Ibsen’s plays in particular, “An Enemy of the People,” “The Master Builder” and “Emperor and Galilean,” actually presaged or foreshadowed the Third Reich and served as a model for Hitler in implementing key political, diplomatic and even military actions during the war.
On a somewhat more uplifting note, Mark Klempner’s The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage (Pilgrim Press, 235 pages, $24) tells the stories of Dutch resisters, who placed their own lives in danger and rescued friends and neighbors from the Nazis. Klempner, a folklorist and oral historian, interviews 10 such Holocaust rescuers and uses their personal narratives as a means to find inspiration for his own life, applying the lessons learned from the resistors to find meaning in today’s world.
In children’s books, Rachel Hausfater and Olivier Latyk’s The Little Boy Star: An Allegory of the Holocaust (IBooks/Milk & Cookies Press, 32 pages, $16.95) highlights the darkness of the era in a simple allegory of a child given a Star of David to wear. At first the child is proud to wear the star, but then he begins to disappear. Amy Littlesugar and William Low’s Willy and Max: A Holocaust Story (Philomel, 40 pages, $15.99) uses the account of a stolen painting to show the friendship between two boys in Belgium and the difficulties they face as the Nazi soldiers close in.
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Other new and noteworthy books about the Holocaust:
The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust
By Jeffrey Herf
Belknap Press (Harvard University), 432 pages, $29.95.
Hitler’s Shadow War: The Holocaust and World War II
By Donald M. McKale
Taylor Trade Publishing, 588 pages, $18.95.
Roosevelt and the Holocaust
By Robert Beir
Barricade Books, 320 pages, $26.95.
Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust
By Robert N. Rosen,
Alan M. Dershowitz (Introduction)
Thunder’s Mouth Press, 324 pages, $32.
June 1941: Hitler and Stalin
By John Lukacs
Yale University Press, 192 pages, $25.
Using and Abusing the Holocaust
By Lawrence L. Langer
Indiana University Press, 216 pages, $29.95.
Holocaust Memoir Digest, Vol. 2: A Digest of Published Survivor
Memoirs With Study Guide and Maps
By Esther Goldberg (Editor), Sir Martin Gilbert (Editor)
Vallentine Mitchell, 140 pages, $16.95.
The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich: A Son’s Memoir
By Howard Riech
Public Affairs Press, 272 pages, $22.95.
A High and Hidden Place
By Michele Claire Lucas
HarperSanFrancisco, 304 pages, $13.95
Franz Kafka’s Daughter Meets the Evil Nazi Empire!!!: The Heroism of Roaches Holocaust-Tainted Poems
By Elliot Richman
Leaping Dog Press, 80 pages, $10.