|Author||Bryan Mark Rigg|
The last decade has seen many books recounting the actions of German Christians who helped Jews survive the Holocaust. While this volume fits neatly into that genre, it's also remarkably different, since it describes high-ranking Nazis who, in a complicated series of actions, helped Rabbi Joseph Schneersohn, the esteemed head of the Hasidic Lubavitcher movement, escape to American in 1940. This is great material—the stuff of Hollywood films—and historian Rigg (Hitler's Jewish Solders) makes the most of it. Writing in a clean, dramatic voice but with strict historical accuracy and nuanced analysis, Rigg details how, at the instigation of American Lubavitchers and some sympathetic officials in FDR's administration, highly placed German military men—including Helmut Wohlthat, an anti-Semitic aide to Göring who felt saving the rebbe would be a good public relations move, and Maj. Ernst Bloch, who had a Jewish father—conspired to spirit the ailing rebbe from Warsaw to Riga, and then Stockholm, where he sailed for New York. Rigg's canvas is broader than a simple "great escape," including the birth of the Hasidic movement in Europe, the entrenched anti-Semitism of many U.S. officials and the rebbe's controversial messianic theology after his U.S. arrival. This is a well-written and vital addition to the literature of Holocaust survivor studies. 50 b&w photos.