The Australian Jewish Times (May 15, 1980)

Martin Gilbert, the distinguished biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, joins a longline of authors to trace the long and hopeless journey of millions of Jews to the gas chambers.


He relates the fate of Jewish communities of France, Romania, Hungary, Holland and Greece, stories of individuals and groups.


Describing their journey from hardship to sheer hell, he records history at its worst. But beyond facts and figures he looks for the human tragedies to tell.


The stories are based on eyewitness accounts and on hard contemporary evidence, with the documents and sources quoted in most cases.


The book is painfully well illustrated.


Gilbert records history and realises that little commentary is needed.


The book starts and ends with photos of the saddest victims of Hitler, the children.


The story begins with the early 1930’s with little known aspects of early signs of antisemitism in Germany, Romania, Hungary and Poland, signs,which were often ignored.


Some of the photos in the book have never been seen before, like the one of Baden-Baden Jews in their synagogue forced to uncover their heads to listen to readings from antisemitic newspapers, Viennese Jews scrubbing the streets or SS men shaving the beards of old Jews in Poland.


There is nothing startlingly new in the Gilbert book, but it is the “old” story told with authority, intelligence and compassion.