“Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949” by David Cesarani— A Reppraisal


Cesarani, David. “Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949”, St. Martin’s, 2016.

A Reappraisal

Amos Lassen

In David Cesarani’s “Final Solution” we get the chronicle of the fate of Europe’s Jews. Cesarani logged decades of research and provides us with new scholarship and documentation from the opening of Soviet archives, the declassification of western intelligence service records and the diaries and reports. He reappraises accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany and the inevitability of the Final Solution. He sees that the persecution of the Jews was not always the Nazis’ central preoccupation, nor was it inevitable. In German-occupied countries, it unfolded erratically, often due to local initiatives and he sees the war as having been critical to the Jewish fate. Because of military failure, the Germans lost opportunities to expel Jews into a distant territory and created a crisis of resources that led to the starvation of the ghettos and caused anti-Jewish measures to intensify. He also disputes the iconic role of railways and deportation trains. From prisoner diaries, he shows the extent of sexual violence and abuse of Jewish women and follows the journey of some Jewish prisoners to displaced persons camps. Because there is so much in this book, it is hard to summarize and each page brings something new.

We know that today, racial and religious prejudice is not as far below the surface as we would like believe and that makes the book even more stunning. Cesarani maintains that the destruction of the Jews was never pre-planned or preordained and this is certainly a way of looking at the greatest crime in the history of the world.