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The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944: The Missing Center [Hardcover]

Andrew Ezergailis

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 465 pages
  • Publisher: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9984905438
  • ISBN-13: 978-9984905433
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 17.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,050,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Latvia emerged as an independent country in 1918. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hard but unbiased look-- frank, thorough and surprising 3 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Ezergailis' account of holocaust in Latvia is based on his analysis of German, Latvian, and Soviet sources, the latter just made available when he wrote his book. He describes the position of the Jews in pre War Latvia, the attitude of the government toward the Jews, and the rise of antisemitism in certain segments of what was then "a Jewish friendly state." Ezegailis also details the fate of the Jews in sobering passages in which he names those responsible for their deaths. He analyzes how the Nazis used their propaganda to enlist Latvian participation and where this worked. He also discusses how the Soviets used a similar line to discredit Latvian nationalists and ironically, how many American Latvians bought those arguments. To paraphrase the author, the Jews and the Latvians were stuck between two devils. The Latvians chose one; the Jews chose another.
I have traveled through the country several times to meet Latvians and Latvian Jews who survived the War. In a few cases, I have spoken to actual witnesses both in Riga, the capital, and in the rural areas of the country. I think I am in a position to comment on Ezegailis' book. It is a thorough work of scholarship for anyone interested in that sad time and the complex world it left.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real masterpiece [a review taken from my site www.ordnungspolizei.org] 29 April 2009
By Massimo Arico - Published on Amazon.com
Andrew Ezergailis. Never as in this case, it appears appropriate to associate an author with his book and vice versa. In some way, by dealing with this dramatic matter, it seems that the Author - a Latvian native - had wanted to pay off a debt not of his own: a debt that the Latvian nation had contract with its Jewish community, erased by the Genocide.

And for doing so, in order to reconstruct the history of those terrible years, he traces a totally innovative way. Ezergailis' work in fact, can be considered the archetype of the so-called regional studies, the avant-garde and model for a group of excellent essays that, in the subsequent years, would have focused the historical research on the various local realities of the occupied Europe. In this way, as Hilberg had someway already anticipated, the attention of the historians is shifted from the victims to the perpetrators, through the in-depth analysis of the Nazi genocidal universe, seen in its historical, structural and organizational dynamics. We are talking about an up-to-date method of research, that goes beyond those countless diaries and memoirs published in the post-war period, that had a great emotional impact but that were tendentially lacking of an overall view.
It's quite obvious that, also in Ezergailis', the Jewish Genocide is and remains the main subject of the research: however, this is done through a reversed perspective, focused on the perpetrators, which are brought before the bar of the history, through the analysis of their operational and ideological context. And in this virtual Court, in a role of judge and jury, the reader assists to the production of the evidences that the Author - as a Public Prosecutor - provides plentiful and detailed.
And in this book of Ezergailis there are many evidences, facts and documents. The Genocide of the latvian Jews is "rediscovered" in detail, with a particular attention paid to the role of the local collaborators, whose names are listed at the end of the book; the structure of the Sichereitspolizei is described, as well as the aims and the Nazi occupation and extermination policies in Latvia; the social context is depicted, and the pernicious anti-semitic substratum - that already before the war had corrupted some local political movements - is also historicized. But above all, the Author describes the tragedy of Rumbula, in which also units of the Ordnungspolizei were involved.
Well, just the massacre of Rumbula can be considered the core of this book, the literal dead end of a genocidal path, symbolic moment of the erasing of the Jewish community of Latvia.
All that and more, is narrated in this book. That we love.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Holocaust in Latvia 1941-1944. Andrew Ezergailis 22 Jan 2013
By Karin Standen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I consider that Andrew Ezergailis demonstrates in this history that he is a very objective, thorough historian. All conclusions are soundly based and documented. He destroys the arguments of many of the revisionist historians by quoting much that was reported from the Eastern front in reports to the high command in Berlin. He shows that it is inconceivable that the instructions to carry out the atrocities did not effectively come right from the top, Adolph Hitler,Himmler and Heydrich. I found a weakness in the history and the conclusions that Ezergailis sits on the fence with respect to the culpability of the Latvians themselves. He appears inhibited by his own Latvian background, although the facts he has unearthed show that the Latvians themselves bear a heavy responsibility for the murder of the Jews. He seems unwilling to draw the conclusions, which his own research has in fact made clear. This was disappointing, though in many ways understandable. The value of the work is that it also prepares the ground for further historical research on this tragic episode in Latvian history. Michael Standen.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Holocaust in Latvia 29 Jan 2014
By Baruch Pollack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent and gripping acount of one of the greatest human tragedies. I recommend it highly for anyone interested in this historical period.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review 2 Jun 2008
By Stephen Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
To the best of my knowledge this is the only book written about the Holocaust in Latvia, and in English, that was written through extensive research of existing source documents. That alone makes it worth reading.

This book gives the best description of the Arajis Kommando, and its leader, that I have read. The author describes the role of fraternities in Latvia and how Arajis used his connections inside one of the largest for recruiting purposes. Arajis comes off as yet another self-seeking power and recognition hungry flea that decided to catch a ride on the hyena that was the Reich.

What puzzled me was the authors insistence that Latvian auxillaries were the primary killers of the Jews and members of the communist party. My reading of this book left me somewhat doubtful as the author discusses how the Arajis Kommando was slow to organize that fateful summer. Also, Latvian auxillaries were not trusted with weapons other than rifles and pistols (pre 1943) and the ammo issued was counted before an after they were on duty.

I have no doubt that Latvians killed Jews and the Arajis Kommando helped. I am just not as positive as the author they killed as many of them. Yet, I write this and know I never would have even thought about it without the author having written this book. For me, this is why I read, and why I like history so much.

The book also discusses the clash between those who wanted (Lohse)to wring the maximum amount of productive labor from selected Jews and those who wanted to kill them all now (SD). The same clash was repeated through out the east and I found it interesting to read the logic behind it. Something few books touch upon.

I recommend this book.
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