* Lew’s comments on “Victims & Neighbors” by Frances Henry
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2016
This is an extraordinary book. The author, grand-daughter of Jews who escaped from a small German town, went back to that town, met with people who had known her grand-parents, and produced a thoughtful presentation of the feelings and pressures on both Jews and Christians as the Nazi regime increased its persecution of Jews.
Lifelong friendships were instantly terminated within days of Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor, even before the most oppressive laws and measures were implemented. Most Christians looked away as Jews endured an increasingly lonely and fearful existence. Some Christians exhibited kindness, for instance bringing food to Jews no longer allowed in Christian shops, but most, fearful of being denounced by their neighbors, simply ignored the Jews.
Ms. Henry also recorded attitudes of Christian Germans after Germany’s defeat. Mostly, they were angry at Allied bombing and other so-called “atrocities.” They acted like victims, of the Allies and of Hitler. Nobody felt their own actions were to blame.
What would I have done in their shoes? Could they have done anything meaningful? These are questions I am addressing as I write my novel A FLOOD OF EVIL, Volume One of which will soon be published.