Saturday, December 12, 2015

REVIEW: Heroes of the Holocaust by Lyn Smith

Heroes of the Holocaust
by Lyn Smith

Publisher: Ebury Press
Page Count: 272
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover

How got: personal library; bought via Amazon

First attention getter: subject matter


From GoodReads:

The moving stories of 27 ordinary people who were awarded the Heroes of the Holocaust medal for their actions protecting Jews from Nazi persecution

In March 2010, 27 Britons who took matters into their own hands to protect Jews from the Nazis during one of the darkest times in human history were formally recognized as Heroes of the Holocaust by the British Government. The silver medal, inscribed with the words "In the Service of Humanity," was created to acknowledge those "whose selfless actions preserved life in the face of persecution." Some of the recipients, like Frank Foley, a British spy whose cover was working at the British embassy in Berlin, took huge risks issuing forged visas to enable around 10,000 Jews to escape Germany before the outbreak of war. Others, like the 10 POWs who hid and cared for Hannah Sarah Rigler as she escaped from a death march, showed great humanity in the face of horrendous cruelty and suffering. All the recipients of the award were ordinary people, acting on no one's authority but their own, who found they could not stand idly by in the face of this great evil. Collected here for the first time are the remarkable stories of the medal's recipients, a moving testament to the bravery of those whose inspiring actions stand out in stark relief at a time of such horror.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

This is a great collection of examples of humanity in times of trial. Those who risked livelihoods and lives to save their fellow human beings from terror, these Brits are examples of the best in humanity. It was interesting to see how people from a nation that was never invaded by ground troops but was hammered from the sky put themselves at risk for others not of their own nation.

Most of the people detailed in this book I was familiar with from reading on Righteous Gentiles before that were recognized by Yad Vashem. I liked this volume, however, as it collected people from one nation into one work and some of which were not recognized by Yad Vashem for whatever reason. These are people that were recognized by Britain with their own Heroes of the Holocaust medal.

From diplomatic halls to occupied British soil to the very bowels of Auschwitz itself, this work covers a wide range of rescue and its arenas. It shines a light on people who would have most likely stayed ordinary under regular circumstances; but with tyranny and evil taking power, they became saviors and people of incredible bravery. I think that’s why I like reading about those who rescued others during the Holocaust. It brings light to how ordinary people can make a difference and be such a bright light of humanity amongst such inhumanity.

I liked how the author presented the information as well. Nonfiction works that present their information in personal story format with each chapter being a different person’s story is something I love. It makes the information very easy to digest, each chapter being one person’s story. Not a format that works for all non-fiction, it works great for works like this, telling us about multiple people over one broad theme. It also makes it very readable, giving it readability to a wider audience and even the casual reader who might not look at a non-fiction otherwise.

I personally loved this work. It presents a lot of information in a format that makes it readable by a wide audience, reaching more people with stories that relate in the modern age and give us examples of how even the ordinary can make a difference. Definitely recommended!!

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