“Inside the camp, inside the low single-story buildings beyond the double rows of electrified barbed wire, the Soviet army found piles of shoes, more that could be counted, “shoes piled like pieces of coal” or “rising in a high mound like grain.” Some shoes had worn out soles and no laces; some had tumbled down off the high pile and had landed back on the floor. In one room, all the shoes were small, small enough to fit easily in a man’s hand. They were baby and toddler shoes; many pairs were evidentially the children’s first shoes. Along with the shoes, there were piles of human teeth, piles of hair and piles of eyeglasses with cracked lenses and broken or bent frames. Everywhere there were piles of things. … “
“Winik . . . turns his attention to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this fast-paced history of the year the world was at a crossroads. . . . 1944 is a bracing war story about an inspiring president who led the Allies to victory but missed opportunities to save countless lives.”
–Jane Ciabattari, BBC
This book by Winik is sobering to the extreme. The history he tells of one of the greatest crimes in human history is depressing, but necessary to know and deal with – I say one of the greatest crimes because the Communist empire of the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia killed far more people than the German Nazi regime, but that is left for another time and another essay.
The Germans under Hitler came within months of totally annihilating all of the Jews in Europe – every man, woman and child of whatever age. That there were any left to emigrate to Palestine and create the new nation Israel was strictly a function of the war ending in the total defeat of Germany and its unconditional surrender. Even in its final death throws, the Germans were packing human beings by the tens-of-thousands into cattle cars and sending them to the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz.
This history by Winik shows the exceptionalism of America, and also shows the necessity of a good America at a time when the light of liberty was in extreme danger of being snuffed out – perhaps forever. All of Europe, except for Great Britain was conquered, and was under the demonic rule of Hitler and the Nazis – and Great Britain was under horrific siege as well. Hitler’s appetite was not quenched and he went after Russia as well.
Frightening times indeed.
This book is timely in light of the recent “agreement” with Iran which apparently gives Islam the green light to obtain nuclear weaponry and the missile ability to deliver those weapons – to Israel and elsewhere. For this reason, I believe this book should be a must read for all contenders for the US Presidency in 2016, as well as all concerned voters. The stakes are as high now as they were in the late 1930s to the end of World War II. Hitler’s agenda was not ended in 1945 regarding the Jews … Hitler’s agenda is alive and well in Tehran and in the minds and hearts of the leaders of what is called radical Islam.
Don Johnson – November 2015