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Advance Praise for Holocaust Memories: A Survey of Holocaust Memoirs, Histories, Novels and Films




Advance Praise for Claudia Moscovici’s

Holocaust Memories: A Survey of Holocaust Memoirs, Histories, Novels and Films



The screen that portrays the horrors of the twentieth Century is fading more rapidly than its audience can bear. Claudia Moscovici’s book will go far to help keep it lit longer.


Rabbi Joseph Polak, Author of After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring, Winner of the 2015 National Jewish Book Award


This book fills a present and mounting need for all readers interested in the Holocaust, including scholars and teachers.  With the literature about that unprecedented crime becoming steadily more extensive, Claudia Moscovici’s work offers a valuable and well-written guide to key works on various aspects of the Holocaust or on its entire history.


Guy Stern, ​Distinguished Professor Emeritus Wayne State University Director, International Institute of the Righteous Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Center, Farmington Hills, MI


Holocaust Memories is a morally urgent book, an encyclopedia of mourning, remembrance, and compassion, an invitation and a behest to keep memory alive and to resist unwaveringly any form of authoritarian temptation. It is particularly recommended to high school and college students, but also to a general audience. I learned a lot from it and I am convinced that many others will share my superlative endorsement.


Vladimir Tismaneanu, Professor of Politics, University of Maryland (College Park), author of The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century


A well-written series of book reviews that can be used as a solid tool for those who want to study the Holocaust.


Radu Ioanid, Author of The Holocaust in Romania and The Ransom of the Jews


Intended for a wide public and a new generation of readers, this bold and ambitious book forms an overview of the Holocaust from a myriad of sources – historical, philosophical, or literary works and films. More than sixty lucid and concise essays (usually two or three pages long) introduce various circumstances of human cruelty in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Soviet Russia, but also in Cambodia and Rwanda. These focused readings comprise an invaluable source book for anyone seeking to understand the horrors of totalitarian regimes, constantly reminding us that moral courage must prevail over politics.


Edward K. Kaplan, Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities Emeritus, Brandeis University, author a two-volume biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972)


Holocaust Memories provides a wealth of reviews and summaries of major memoirs, histories, biographies, novels and films related to the Holocaust. In the breadth of its coverage it provides an important and much-needed resource for teachers and students of all ages who are exploring the record of a tragedy so extensive and horrific it defies understanding. In bringing together testimonials and perspectives from many different voices and a range of genres, Moscovici provides a nuanced and multi-faceted approach that will allow readers to begin to register the unfathomable pain and loss brought about by the Nazis’ decimation of Jews, Gypsies, Poles and other groups. The clarity and vividness of the writing make the reviews intense, each capturing a sense of the impact of the source being described. And since the anthology also covers works about other genocides, such as those in China, Cambodia, and Rwanda, it underscores that genocide is not just a matter of history; it is sadly also a matter of the present.


Natalie McKnight, Dean and Professor of Humanities, The College of General Studies, Boston University


The Holocaust is much more than a historical event; it is a continuing story playing out in the lives of survivors, their descendants, their communities and entire societies. It is a seminal presence that provokes reflection and alerts us to the risks of falling into the abyss of inhuman depravity – of what could happen because it did happen. In Holocaust Memories, Moscovici has given us a panoramic view of the Shoah and framed it with other modern genocides. This book is at once much broader than virtually any other work I know, deeper than most in its gentle insistence that we persist in wrestling with the most fundamental moral questions. Those questions are as pertinent today as they were in 1945. Holocaust Memories will be an invaluable resource as I write my own memoirs as a survivor.


Martin Heisler, Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park

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A Cataclysmic War: Review of Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 by Tony Judt

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Review by Claudia Moscovici, author of Holocaust Memories: A Survey of Holocaust Memoirs, Histories, Novels and Films (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2019)


Tony Judt’s monumental history of the (post) WWII era ranks up there with Robert Conquest’s study of the Soviet Union, Alan Bullock’s biographical history of Hitler and Richard Pipes’ account of the Russian Revolution. Rare in its depth, breadth and scope, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: Penguin Books, 2005) examines the devastating ripple effects of a cataclysmic war—WWII—throughout Europe during the entirety of the twentieth century. Publishers Weekly rightly hails the book as “the best history we have of Europe in the postwar period and not likely to be surpassed for many years…. One of its great virtues is that it covers the small countries as well as the large and powerful ones.” Postwar covers the history of the entire Cold War, dwelling on the spread and dismantlement of Communism. However, the book’s most staggering information—replete with statistics—focuses on the devastation of WWII and its immediate aftermath.

Although Judt covers the material damage done to European cities, he observes that this damage “was insignificant when set against the human losses. It is estimated that about thirty-six and a half million Europeans died between 1939 and 1945 from war-related causes(…)—a number that does not include deaths from natural causes in those years, nor any estimate of the numbers of children not conceived or born then or later because of the war” (Postwar, 17-18).

This is what I’d like to focus upon in this review, since one of the book’s main strengths is to quantify and explain the ravages of totalitarianism and war. Tens of millions of civilians and soldiers died from mass extermination, disease, malnutrition, forced marches, deportations, labor and concentration camps. We’ve already seen that the Holocaust alone claimed ten million victims, about 6 million of whom were Jewish.

Military losses assumed staggering proportions. Judt documents that the Soviet Union alone lost 8.6 million fighters, Germany 4 million, Romania about 300,000. Countless Soviet soldiers died as prisoners of war, as the Germans captured 5.5 million Soviet soldiers. Many of those that managed to survive against all odds the Nazi imprisonment were deported by Stalin to Siberia once they arrived home. (18-19)

Women suffered from the ravages of war both as human beings and specifically as women. Many were raped and tortured as part of the atrocities of war and, later, the spoils of victory. Germany paid a heavy price for having succumbed to Nazi rule. As the German saying went, “Better enjoy the war—the peace will be terrible.” According to Judt, “87,000 women in Vienna were reported by clinics and doctors to have been raped by Soviet soldiers in the three weeks following the Red Army’s arrival in the city” (20).

With the farmland, electrical plants, infrastructure and even industry of so many European countries nearly destroyed, people continued to suffer from hunger, polluted water supplies and diseases, of which typhoid and diphtheria were widespread. Hospitals had insufficient supplies, staff and resources to take care of the ill and dying. As Judt describes the situation in Poland, “for the 90,000 children of liberated Warsaw there was just one hospital, with fifty beds” (22).

One of the biggest Diasporas in history, WWII led to the expulsion, deportation and migration of 30 million people between 1939-1942. (23) Germany, who ignited the war, lay in ruins by its end. Judt cites William Byford-Jones, a British officer in Germany, who observed the country’s dire situation in 1945:

“Flotsam and Jetsam! Women who had lost husbands and children, men who had lost their wives; men and women who had lost their homes and children; families who had lost vast farms and estates, shops, distilleries, factories, flour-mills, mansions. There were also little children who were alone, carrying some small bundle, with a pathetic label attached to them” (23).

The Jews of Europe suffered the worst. Targeted for slave labor and extermination just for being born Jewish, over 6 million Jews lost their lives during the war. Even among the fortunate few who got to see the day of liberation from the Nazis, 4 out of 6 died within a few weeks afterwards. Their condition, Judt explains, “was beyond the experience of Western medicine” (24).

After describing the chaos and suffering of war, as the title suggests, Postwar depicts the rebirth of parts of Europe. Indeed, part of the book’s message is one of hope. Given the human devastation and the material destruction caused by WWII, it is a miracle that Western Europe managed to rebound and emerge like a phoenix from the ashes of war to flourish in first part of the twentieth century. Still under the grips of totalitarianism (Communism), it would take Eastern Europe another half a century to recover from WWII and the dangerous ideologies that led to the near destruction of an entire continent and its people.

Claudia Moscovici

Literature Salon

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