How the World Allowed Hitler to Proceed with the Holocaust (Hardback)
Tragedy at Evian
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In July 1938 the United States, Great Britain and thirty other countries participated in a vital
conference at Évian-les-Bains, France, to discuss the persecution and possible emigration of the European Jews, specifically those caught under the anvil of Nazi atrocities. However, most of those nations rejected the pleas then being made by the Jewish communities, thus condemning them to the Holocaust.
There is no doubt that the Évian conference was a critical turning point in world history. The disastrous outcome of the conference set the stage for the murder of six million people. Today we live in a world defined by turmoil with a disturbing rise of authoritarian governments and ultra right-wing nationalism. The plight of refugees is once more powerfully affecting public attitudes towards those most in need. Now, on the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Second World War, it’s time to reflect on the past to ensure we never again make the same mistakes.
Tragedy at Évian also shines a spotlight on some of the astonishing and courageous stories of heroic efforts of individuals and private organisations who, despite the decisions made at Évian, worked under extremely dangerous conditions, frequently giving their own lives to assist in the rescue of the Jewish people.
How the World Allowed Hitler to Proceed with the Holocaust: Tragedy at Evian by Tony Matthews is a detailed account of an often glossed over conference that truly did do as the title of the book states. Reading this will, if you adhere to any sort of moral or ethical system that values human life, make you at times angry, disappointed, and profoundly sad. It should also make you want to show that same emotion toward the many refugee situations taking place around the globe today and the inhumanity being shown by the various forms of nationalism.NetGalley, Jack Messer
While the focus is indeed the conference itself Matthews does a very good job of showing what was happening in various countries that influenced the various decisions to do little to nothing. Most of what the opponents to helping European Jewry stated as reasons weren't so much reasons as rationalizations for their antisemitism. Even many that wanted to help often used racist and offensive terms and generalizations.
I like the way the book is titled. I was taken aback a bit when the main title looked like what would usually come after the colon while the short phrase after the colon looked more like a normal title. But the way it is emphasizes that the world allowed the Holocaust to happen, that there was knowledge of what was happening and had been for some time. If a reader takes nothing else from the book take away the fact that all of these countries fighting the "good fight" are the same ones who implicitly sanctioned the Holocaust.
In addition to the background leading up to the conference (including a senatorial candidate suggesting the US learn from Hitler) and a detailed account of the conference we also learn about many of the people and organizations that tried, sometimes successfully sometimes losing their own lives, against all odds and with minimal government support from any country, to save as many people as possible.
It is hard to read some of the comments and rationales of those deciding not to help, thus sentencing many of the Jews to death, without hearing a lot of the various forms of current nationalism that so many countries are experiencing. Today's version is just as content to allow people who might not look like them or worship like them die miserable deaths as the version from the 1930s.
I would recommend this to readers who want to better understand exactly what most of the countries of the world did in the lead up to the Holocaust. If you have read and found fascinating how Germany could go from Weimar to Nazi, the background to the conference will serve the same purpose for those fighting the so-called "good fight." Readers who believe we can learn from the past will find many lessons here that urgently need to be shared today.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Michelle Coates
This book was an exceptional read!... Read over 2 days. Well researched and fully engaging!