Lyla Hoffman

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 421

The mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War II is the subject of this compelling history ["Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust"]. Interweaving background information, chilling statistics, individual accounts and newspaper reports, it provides an excellent introduction to its subject for American young people, whose lack of knowledge about the war and/or about anti-Semitism continually amazes people like the reviewer who lived through those times.

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Scapegoating a minority group to gain and consolidate political power was not a device originated by Adolf Hitler, but it was used by him with outstanding success. Meltzer documents just how and why this happened, and how Hitler retained mass support even though "wages sank while profits rose." The one deficiency of this background information is that readers are given the impression that Hitler controlled everything in Germany, including big business. It is much more likely that Hitler was encouraged by big business because, in addition to killing Jews, he also suppressed all labor union activity and all political opposition. (p. 16)

In relating information about the infamous German leaders and presenting first-person tales by anonymous victims, Meltzer exposes the myth of Jewish non-resistance. He says this myth developed because "historians based themselves largely on the captured Nazi documents, which gave only a one-sided version of what happened"…. Using recently discovered documents and the accounts of concentration camp survivors, Meltzer gives a stirring and important description of active and passive resistance that was marked by courage, confusion over tactics and passionate struggle for survival.

In his "Never to Forget" wrap-up chapter, the author makes it clear that the Holocaust must never be regarded merely as an aberration…. He not only shows that "it can happen here" but that it has happened everywhere both before and after Hitler. He cites the many places where genocide has been practiced and explains that such horrors are always possible when people believe in the superiority of one group over another. He also makes it clear that all humanity was responsible—individuals, churches, governments, along with the Germans who actually committed the murders—by not acting to prevent the Holocaust.

Readers will gain a greater understanding of history, of racism and of individual responsiblity from this excellent book—and hopefully, neutrality will be impossible. (pp. 16-17)

Lyla Hoffman, in her review of "Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust." in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin (reprinted by permission of Interracial Books for Children Bulletin, 1841 Broadway, New York. N.Y. 10023), Vol. 7, No. 6, 1976, pp. 16-17.

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