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Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe – A Memoir, A History, A Warning

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Those Who Forget, published to international awards and acclaim, is journalist Géraldine Schwarz’s riveting account of her German and French grandparents’ lives during World War II, an in-depth history of Europe’s post-war reckoning with fascism, and an urgent appeal to remember as a defense against today’s rise of far-right nationalism. During World War II, Géraldine Schw Those Who Forget, published to international awards and acclaim, is journalist Géraldine Schwarz’s riveting account of her German and French grandparents’ lives during World War II, an in-depth history of Europe’s post-war reckoning with fascism, and an urgent appeal to remember as a defense against today’s rise of far-right nationalism. During World War II, Géraldine Schwarz’s German grandparents were neither heroes nor villains; they were merely Mitlaüfer—those who followed the current. Once the war ended, they wanted to bury the past under the wreckage of the Third Reich. Decades later, while delving through filing cabinets in the basement of their apartment building in Mannheim, Schwarz discovers that in 1938, her paternal grandfather Karl took advantage of Nazi policies to buy a business from a Jewish family for a low price. She finds letters from the only survivor of this family (all the others perished in Auschwitz), demanding reparations. But Karl Schwarz refused to acknowledge his responsibility. Géraldine starts to question the past: How guilty were her grandparents? What makes us complicit? On her mother’s side, she investigates the role of her French grandfather, a policeman in Vichy. Weaving together the threads of three generations of her family story with Europe’s process of post-war reckoning, Schwarz explores how millions were seduced by ideology, overcome by a fog of denial after the war, and, in Germany at least, eventually managed to transform collective guilt into democratic responsibility. She asks: How can nations learn from history? And she observes that countries that avoid confronting the past are especially vulnerable to extremism. Searing and unforgettable, Those Who Forget is a riveting memoir, an illuminating history, and an urgent call for remembering.


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Those Who Forget, published to international awards and acclaim, is journalist Géraldine Schwarz’s riveting account of her German and French grandparents’ lives during World War II, an in-depth history of Europe’s post-war reckoning with fascism, and an urgent appeal to remember as a defense against today’s rise of far-right nationalism. During World War II, Géraldine Schw Those Who Forget, published to international awards and acclaim, is journalist Géraldine Schwarz’s riveting account of her German and French grandparents’ lives during World War II, an in-depth history of Europe’s post-war reckoning with fascism, and an urgent appeal to remember as a defense against today’s rise of far-right nationalism. During World War II, Géraldine Schwarz’s German grandparents were neither heroes nor villains; they were merely Mitlaüfer—those who followed the current. Once the war ended, they wanted to bury the past under the wreckage of the Third Reich. Decades later, while delving through filing cabinets in the basement of their apartment building in Mannheim, Schwarz discovers that in 1938, her paternal grandfather Karl took advantage of Nazi policies to buy a business from a Jewish family for a low price. She finds letters from the only survivor of this family (all the others perished in Auschwitz), demanding reparations. But Karl Schwarz refused to acknowledge his responsibility. Géraldine starts to question the past: How guilty were her grandparents? What makes us complicit? On her mother’s side, she investigates the role of her French grandfather, a policeman in Vichy. Weaving together the threads of three generations of her family story with Europe’s process of post-war reckoning, Schwarz explores how millions were seduced by ideology, overcome by a fog of denial after the war, and, in Germany at least, eventually managed to transform collective guilt into democratic responsibility. She asks: How can nations learn from history? And she observes that countries that avoid confronting the past are especially vulnerable to extremism. Searing and unforgettable, Those Who Forget is a riveting memoir, an illuminating history, and an urgent call for remembering.

30 review for Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe – A Memoir, A History, A Warning

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rennie

    I didn’t love this like I thought I would and I feel guilty about it because it seems like one of those books you really should appreciate and that has great historical and cultural significance. But it was just so dry in parts, it read like a textbook! I wasn’t sure I’d stick with it from the first few chapters alone. It does get better, but it was easy to lose the thread of who’s who from all the branches of her family — mother and father’s sides, grandparents from each, I don’t even remember I didn’t love this like I thought I would and I feel guilty about it because it seems like one of those books you really should appreciate and that has great historical and cultural significance. But it was just so dry in parts, it read like a textbook! I wasn’t sure I’d stick with it from the first few chapters alone. It does get better, but it was easy to lose the thread of who’s who from all the branches of her family — mother and father’s sides, grandparents from each, I don’t even remember who else. I was always confused. BUT it was completely worth it for the last couple of chapters, especially about the GDR/reunification of Germany and countries that haven’t done the memory work — everything she wrote about Austria is so true, I can’t believe what they’ve gotten away with and things I heard while living there. She writes that they “hid” behind Nazi germany’s crimes and the more unbelievable part of that is that it worked. Eventually they developed the FPÖ, a far-right party that currently governs in a coalition and helped give rise to a far-right party in Germany that’s the first to get as much support as it has since the nazis. When the FPÖ first gained seats in 2000, it drew negative attention worldwide; when they were re-elected in the coalition in 2017, hardly a stir. What she writes about the rise of right-wing populism across Europe, and of course, in America, which she also analyzed incisively, is very upsetting but important. And her analysis of the refugee crisis and what Merkel had in mind when opening Germany’s borders was also excellent. Some of the bits describing her own experiences are lovely too, it’s just the majority that sort of walks through the Holocaust that was less captivating. I’ve read a lot in that area though, maybe if it’s a less explored subject it won’t feel as dull for others. I dunno. Aside from the last couple of chapters it felt like pretty standard, well-trodden ground history of this time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill Mackin

    A powerful memoir, but also an in-depth look at Germany before, during, and after the war and the dangers of false collective memory. An informative history lesson that covers the World War II years and decades since. One of the best books I've read this year. A powerful memoir, but also an in-depth look at Germany before, during, and after the war and the dangers of false collective memory. An informative history lesson that covers the World War II years and decades since. One of the best books I've read this year.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    "I wasn't particularly destined to take an interest in Nazis. My father's parents were neither on the victims' nor the executioners' side. They didn't distinguish themselves with acts of bravery, but neither did they commit the sin of excess zeal. They were simply Mitläufer, people who 'followed the current.' Simply, in the sense that their attitude was shared by the majority of the German people, an accumulation of little blindnesses and small acts of cowardice that, when combined, created t "I wasn't particularly destined to take an interest in Nazis. My father's parents were neither on the victims' nor the executioners' side. They didn't distinguish themselves with acts of bravery, but neither did they commit the sin of excess zeal. They were simply Mitläufer, people who 'followed the current.' Simply, in the sense that their attitude was shared by the majority of the German people, an accumulation of little blindnesses and small acts of cowardice that, when combined, created the necessary conditions for the worst state-orchestrated crimes known to humanity." Géraldine Schwarz is a French-German journalist who takes it upon herself to reckon with her family's complicity in the Third Reich. She traces the progression of political, social, and cultural opinions after World War II, showing the tide slowly turning against Nazism. Shockingly, after the war, many "everyday" Germans were quick to deny culpability for the Reich and the Holocaust - they were simply Mitlaufer, a category in the U.S.-occupied section of Germany that meant they were just going along with the tide, supporting some of the NSDAP's beliefs but not taking any strong stance for or against the war. Schwarz is quick to refute this categorization. Although many Germans hid behind the idea that they would be punished for going against the Party and that they were supportive of the NSDAP simply for the economic revitalization and not for the anti-Semitism, countless Germans benefitted from the "Aryanization" of German businesses - the informal practice of boycotting Jewish-owned businesses until they had no choice but to sell to Germans for far below market price. Schwarz's own grandfather was one of these Germans, buying a mineral business from a German Jew at barely face value, then denying all blame when that same German Jew filed a reparations suit against Schwarz's grandfather after the war. Schwarz's documentation of the history of immediate postwar German "reconstruction" was quite interesting. Most works I've read and watched about WWII basically stop after Potsdam, and hardly focus on the punishments that we all expected to be doled out after the war. You'll learn here that punishments were not doled out, not nearly as many as were deserved - people were scared of being implicated, even non-German officials in France and England. However, after the first third of the book, I found the narrative to be quite meandering and the timeline a bit hard to follow. Schwarz often goes back and forth between pre-war and post-war history, which I understand is needed to show the gradual process of Aryanization and subtle cultural shifts - but the blending of these timelines makes the story slightly confusing. After going through her German grandparent's history, Schwarz enters into more recent history, discussing her father and aunt's upbringing, then introducing her French mother and her French grandparents' side of the story. I would have preferred it be arranged chronologically, with all of the grandparents' stories first, then her parent's generation, then hers. Schwarz goes quite in depth with the French occupation and collaboration with Germany (sometimes it seems that the French were worse than the Germans here!), but this story wasn't as compelling as the recounting of German history. I enjoyed this piece of history that I haven't read about before - although it could be dense at times, it is a fascinating story, and one that I hope causes other Germans to interrogate their pasts and reckon with the scars in their family's histories. Thank you to Scribner for the ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eduardrosa

    Well written book about part of the European, not just Germany, history which opens our eyes to a lot of unknown events. Very well documented. 80 years later we are still struggling on some of the same problems, surprised about quotas of refugees then and now. I would recommend to read that book to everybody that would like to understand, part of the History of Europe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bertrand Lescher-Nuland

    Everyone should read this book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    In French there is a word for people who lose their memory, or forget things: “les amnésiques”. The word comes from the Latin word “amnesia”, also used in English, which means a complete or partial loss of memory due to trauma, injury etc. Géraldine Schwarz uses this term as the original title of her book (translated to Those Who Forget in English), and I think it accurately sums up the main theme that prevails through-out the book: that awful tendency that we humans have to erase and forget cer In French there is a word for people who lose their memory, or forget things: “les amnésiques”. The word comes from the Latin word “amnesia”, also used in English, which means a complete or partial loss of memory due to trauma, injury etc. Géraldine Schwarz uses this term as the original title of her book (translated to Those Who Forget in English), and I think it accurately sums up the main theme that prevails through-out the book: that awful tendency that we humans have to erase and forget certain parts of our history in order to live guilt-free. That whole “I didn’t participate in XYZ, so I was not part of it” attitude that is still a core part of our make-up today. The ability that we have to not hold ourselves accountable for acts committed by those around us, telling ourselves that because we did not actually physically commit those acts, we were not part of it. Well, silence is complicit, and silence allows violence to become genocide, and hatred to become state-sanctioned mass murder. Géraldine Schwarz is a German and French journalist, and Those Who Forget is a deep dive into her family’s past, but also a general overview of Germany before, during, and after the war, and the Germans in general during that time. There is a term for Germans who were not active Nazi followers, those who just followed the current: “Mitlaüfer”. Schwarz grew up thinking that her German grandparents were Mitlaüfer, but when she discovers that her grandfather appears to have taken his own advantage of anti-Semitism in 1938, she starts to wonder how complicit he actually was, and how complicit the entire population was. Schwarz also studies the actions of the French side of her family as her mother’s father was a Vichy policeman during the war. I really love how the author creates a story by weaving through three generations of her family, and each generation's own way of reckoning with what their country and their people did during the war. Within these studies the author takes us on a personal journey of discovery, but also on a more general journey into our collective ability to forget and move on, while burying the past, and what this actually means for our future. If we bury the past how can we move forward without committing the same acts down the road? If we remain silent in the face of wrong, how can we really hope to make a change in the future? This is such a timely book, as I feel that, once again, we are at a crossroads, and our actions, as individuals and as populations in general, will dictate how the future unrolls. Nazism, Fascism, and Anti-Semitism were never wiped out, but hastily buried in a shallow grave with a breathing tube. I appreciated the parallels that the author draws with other atrocities committed elsewhere (slavery in the US for example), portraying how none of us are safe from being persecuted and/or complicit in persecution of others. I asked my sister to send me a copy of this book in the original language as I want to be able to read it again in French. Part memoir, part history, part warning, this is a must read in my opinion, and also a call to action: do we really want to continue to watch the same atrocities be committed over and over again, standing by and pretending that we are not guilty by association? Or do we want to stand up and actually say NO MORE and mean it? I know what side of history I want to be standing on. Thanks to Netgalley and to the publisher for the advance copy in return for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    A powerful read with many examples of how many people knew what was going on but still turned a blind eye. Some were scared, others profited, and some rejoiced and then prayed they'd never be found out for their actions. And by people, I mean not just Germans, but French, Italian, American and British actors. Britain and the US looked the other way in order to profit off the technical expertise of Nazi scientists. The French pretended that they were all in the Resistance and then even forgave an A powerful read with many examples of how many people knew what was going on but still turned a blind eye. Some were scared, others profited, and some rejoiced and then prayed they'd never be found out for their actions. And by people, I mean not just Germans, but French, Italian, American and British actors. Britain and the US looked the other way in order to profit off the technical expertise of Nazi scientists. The French pretended that they were all in the Resistance and then even forgave and glorified some of the top-level collaborators, including Marshall Pétain. Fascists in Italy were pardoned in bulk and integrated back into society with nary a trial or investigation. As I read it, it was truly frightening to see the similarities (though certainly without the magnitude of deaths) of the rise of Nazism and the rise of Trump and the far right in the United States. The author cites that as one reason she wanted to write this book. The book has many great quotes, but I selected three for this review. One was on the German Evangelical Church, but one could shift the time frame and easily see this as some of the evangelical churches across the US that have embraced racism and hatred and thrown their support blindly behind Trump. "After all, the German Evangelical Church, which was a strong guiding force for Oma’s conscience, had given the Führer its blessing, hoping that the hated democracy would be followed by a Christian-authoritarian regime. On holidays, some churches unabashedly flew the Nazi flag from their steeples, letting its blood-red fabric flutter around the Christian cross." (~ 34% into book) Later, talking about how political leaders, including Hitler and Mussolini (and one can certainly see Trump in this mix), Schwarz looks at the impact the French thinker Gustave Le Bon had on these leaders. "To manipulate a crowd, Le Bon emphasized that a leader must use terms that bring up strong, impressive images, flatter the passions and desires of his audience, satisfy the taste crowds have for what is legendary, confuse the line between the unbelievable and the real, and above all, renounce all reasoning. In this way, he will obtain deference, self-sacrifice, and a sense of duty, to the point that the crowd will renounce deeply anchored human values." (~ 81% into book) Near the end of this memoir, Schwarz quotes Hannah Arendt for insight on spreading lies and conspiracy theories today: "If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer… And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.” (~ 95% into book)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Extraordinary work of journalism. Winner of the European Book Prize and other awards in Germany and the authors native France. Schwarz uses the personal history of her parents and grandparents to expound upon the importance of preserving national memory. She details how Germany was able to come to terms with its nationalist Nazi past to become one of the worlds strongest democracies. She also draws parallels between other countries such as Italy and France who struggle with accepting the blame o Extraordinary work of journalism. Winner of the European Book Prize and other awards in Germany and the authors native France. Schwarz uses the personal history of her parents and grandparents to expound upon the importance of preserving national memory. She details how Germany was able to come to terms with its nationalist Nazi past to become one of the worlds strongest democracies. She also draws parallels between other countries such as Italy and France who struggle with accepting the blame of their fascist pasts. Utterly fascinating review of history and also sadly relevant to today's political climate. The importance of memory work among a nation's population is paramount to its success. To paraphrase Schwarz "Without this memory work, individuals and societies will be pushed to make irrational choices by supporting regimes and leaders who are opposed to their interest, by becoming complicit in criminal ideas and actions." Sadly, I feel like this already taking place in the US. There are striking similarities between the alt-right movement in the US and the Nazi party rise in the 1930s. This book serves as a warning. Definitely required reading for any WW2 historian, history lover, or political junkie. Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC for review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    A mind-blowing history of the "mitlaufer," those Germans (and French, Austrian, Polish, etc., etc.) people who "went along" with the horrific policies and actions of the Nazi government. Schwarz is a French-German woman with a foot in both countries, and a family history in both countries that she weaves into her historical recounting. Quite a gripping book. She makes crystal clear why denials of knowledge of the atrocities are truly unbelievable. She recounts how and where many European citizen A mind-blowing history of the "mitlaufer," those Germans (and French, Austrian, Polish, etc., etc.) people who "went along" with the horrific policies and actions of the Nazi government. Schwarz is a French-German woman with a foot in both countries, and a family history in both countries that she weaves into her historical recounting. Quite a gripping book. She makes crystal clear why denials of knowledge of the atrocities are truly unbelievable. She recounts how and where many European citizens were exposed to those incidents and couldn't have avoided knowing about them. And I now know why, when I was a schoolkid in the 1960s, there was so much being made of the Holocaust. It's because much of what we now know about those events was only becoming known in any detail in the 1960s and later, with the efforts by historians and persistent journalists who forced the release of documents & government records about what occurred.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dominique

    4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. A very, very well written piece of nonfiction that I highly suggest for anyone interested in WWII & especially post-war history of Europe. I learned a LOT from this book. Truly a must-read. Simple as that. Thank you to Scribner & NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest opinion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    I’ll be thinking about this and what it means to be a mitlaüfer for a long time. So much of this resonates in my thoughts about the lack of memory work we have done in the US to account for our own history, and it also makes me think about my own Grandma Inge’s deep shame and probably embarrassment about being German after immigrating to the US after the war.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    Géraldine Schwarz longlist author interview 2020 Géraldine Schwarz author of Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe - A Memoir, A Histroy, A Warning, shares a very personal account of what it was like to tell the story of her family history and their code of silence in post-Nazi Germany. What does it feel like to be longlisted? It is really encouraging, and it gives me hope that the commitment of those of us who defend a certain idea of humanity is not useless. That consciousness is grow Géraldine Schwarz longlist author interview 2020 Géraldine Schwarz author of Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe - A Memoir, A Histroy, A Warning, shares a very personal account of what it was like to tell the story of her family history and their code of silence in post-Nazi Germany. What does it feel like to be longlisted? It is really encouraging, and it gives me hope that the commitment of those of us who defend a certain idea of humanity is not useless. That consciousness is growing. In the massive disorientation we are going through, the past – not only war and fascism, but also the colonial past – provides us with vital benchmarks. It can guide us to understand the world instead of suffer it, can give us the perspective and experience necessary to face the many challenges before us and protect us from the forgers of history, creators of false hatreds and violators of identities. I am a child of the French-German reconciliation, a child of Europe. I’ve known only peace and freedom where my grandparents experienced almost exclusively wars, interwar periods and dictatorships. I am thankful to those who made that transformation possible. I would like to make a contribution to this heritage by communicating a narrative that inspires us to take action and responsibility. For the granddaughter of Mitläufer of Nazism, to be longlisted for a British book prize is in this regard a very moving symbol: 75 years ago, when the war ended, such perspective would have been inconceivable. What is your favourite non-fiction book and why? One of my favourites is The Rings of Saturn, by W.G Sebald. Sebald's tireless quest to commemorate the suffering and destruction of the past makes him an important figure in keeping memory alive, even if his contribution came late for Germany. It is hard to cope with the knowledge of how horrible man can be: it can wear us down. But in The Rings of Saturn, Sebald manages to empower us because his melancholy, far from being passive, takes on the aspect of resistance. As a journalist, documentary filmmaker, historian by education and writer, one question always underlies my work: which medium should I use to tell which story? In The Rings of Saturn, by mixing philosophical and historical considerations, poetic texts, maps and photos, Sebald adopts a plural approach, creating magic: the world of yesterday emerges, superimposed on today’s world. And finally, by combining fiction and non-fiction, Sebald also inspired my vision of the past. He acknowledges that we can only access traces of the past, and that we use representation to create links between those traces, to give them a shape. Representation is a form of fiction, so we can say that in historians' books there is always some fiction. What is crucial is that this fiction does not serve political or ideological goals, but instead the quest for truth. How did you conduct your research? I started to ask to myself: How do you write about the past? About an era that you haven’t lived through? How do you write about a history that is multifaceted, and extract some fragments of truth from the endless complexity of its traces? And how not to get lost in the labyrinth of memory, in its omissions and lies, its blind spots and mirages? To find my way through, I knitted the thread of family memory together with that of major history. I knew that my grandfather, Karl, had been a member of the Nazi party, but he never held any kind of official position under the Third Reich, nor was he ever a soldier. I didn’t dig deeper. A remark from my aunt finally piqued my curiosity. I rummaged through old filing cabinets in the basement of the family apartment building in Mannheim, Germany. Among the yellowed papers, I discovered that my grandfather had taken advantage of anti-Semitic Nazi policies to buy a business from a Jewish family for a low price. I also found a letter from the only survivor of this family demanding reparations after the war, and Karl Schwarz’s response in which he refuses to acknowledge his responsibility. My first reaction was to go in search of the Löbmann family, though few traces remained. I trembled at the thought that these existences had perished twice: once at Auschwitz and a second time in our memories. Finally, I found myself in a London suburb, sitting across from Lotte Kramer, a 95 years old cousin of the Löbmann. In order to learn more about my German grandfather, who died before I was born, I called on two firsthand witnesses: my father, Volker, who was born in 1943, and his sister, born in 1936. My aunt always excused Karl’s actions whereas my father was less lenient. Testimonies are not as reliable as documents, they are filtered by emotions. Memory is a living organism, it changes with time. But memory is not a lie, it is just a specific version and perception of the past. How many versions do we need to overlap to have the truth emerge? To give depth to my family narrative I submitted it to the wisdom of historical facts and documents – I read many books and documents, saw archival films, listened to many witness accounts, visited historical sites and museums. My conclusion was that in its essence, the story of my grandparents is the story of many Germans of that time. Furthermore, that it embodies a timeless and universal phenomenon many can identify with: Mitläufertum, those who follow the current. How did it feel to use your personal family history as an example of the code of silence and lack of guilt carried by many who were citizens during WW2? How do you write about the dead, who can no longer react, or defend themselves? The responsibility I assumed in taking on these vanished lives has haunted me. I wanted to be fair, as fair as possible, particularly when it came to my grandparents, whom I had barely known. Unlike for my father and my aunt, whose accounts are filtered through a mixture of anger, sadness, love and loyalty, for me my grandparents are ghosts. I can reflect on them with a cool head. But this alone doesn’t open the doors to the past: you have to draw on the power of representation, of intuition and psychology, and also to allow for empathy with my grandparents, Karl and Lydia, who had the misfortune of being born at the dawn of a cursed century. The greatest difficulty was to assess the responsibility of my German grandfather. I wanted to avoid judging by what I know today, but to try to travel backwards into the past. That involved not applying today's moral and social standards to them, but rather to contextualize. For example, I had to find out: was it possible to say no? What were the risks? What did they know about the fate of the Jews? What was their level of political education? There is also the psychological dimension that must be taken into account, the impact of conformism, indifference, opportunism, and also fear on the attitude of a person and the choices he makes. The importance of political manipulation should not be forgotten: indoctrination, propaganda, lies, the hypnotizing of an entire society... We often forget how seductive National Socialism was for many Germans. My father was very supportive and the book gave me the opportunity to know him better. Whereas my aunt was angry at first. She wanted to know why I had to use the family story in my book about collective memory. I told her that now that the last witnesses are dying, we need to help the younger generations to identify with a story that seems very distant to them. Our engagement with the past should not only be rational but also emotional, and digging into family memories can help history become part of one’s own family: the abstract, dusty past is suddenly given a soul, the face of one’s ancestors. This can allow younger people to ask themselves: what does it mean if my grandparents or great-grandparents made mistakes or suffered and made sacrifices, and I don’t learn from that? Now, my aunt and I are friends again. What are you working on next? I am involved in a number of initiatives in several European countries to advocate for a new approach to memory that allows us to learn from history, to use the past to shape our future together and to get to know each other better, at least in Europe. A work that should be thought of in an intergenerational and transnational context that goes beyond borders. The project I have just completed is along these lines: a documentary film on the trauma experienced after the fall of the Iron Curtain by East Germans and, more generally, Eastern Europeans. My aim was to share the experience of many Eastern Europeans who feel left out of the European culture of remembrance,. In order to foster an inclusive European memorial culture, we need to build more bridges with the memory of communism - as well as that of colonialism, since many people living in Europe today originally come from former colonized countries. My next project is a book about the relations between Germany and the Middle East in the first half of the 20th century. Starting under Kaiser Wilhelm II, these relations were carried out under the Third Reich, and this ideology helped discredit the West and democracy in the Arab world.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This book started out exceptionally well. I found the experiences of the Mitlaufer quite fascinating. Haven't we all wondered what we would have done had we been alive in that time and place? From this perspective alone, I would have rated it five stars. However, as the book progresses, it becomes more confusing with regard to the characters. For example, the author frequently switches between the birth names and the nicknames of her grandparents so that it becomes more difficult to keep track o This book started out exceptionally well. I found the experiences of the Mitlaufer quite fascinating. Haven't we all wondered what we would have done had we been alive in that time and place? From this perspective alone, I would have rated it five stars. However, as the book progresses, it becomes more confusing with regard to the characters. For example, the author frequently switches between the birth names and the nicknames of her grandparents so that it becomes more difficult to keep track of whom she is speaking. Perhaps this is an issue of editing, or maybe some things were lost in translation. For this, I had to drop my score to four stars. And then there is the last chapter. Oh boy! There was so much to unpack in that chapter, the author and the reader would have benefited had she left this chapter for a whole other book. This chapter severely detracted from the rest of the book, as it oversimplified the issue of fascism and seemed to equate totalitarian style of governments with "right wing" versus the open society of the "left wing." For example, nationalism bad, open borders good. The screed against Donald Trump and the Americans who voted for him in 2016 was nearly unbearable. Writing this review in late 2020, we can see clearly now that totalitarian governments can fall under the banner of either right or left wing parties, as we are seeing countries around the world decimating their citizens' human rights under the banner of safetyism.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    Interesting. Could have been better, writing and organization. She would have received a 3 star if not for p.294 to the end where she had to allege Donald Trump was a white supremest, put children in cages etc etc (words cannot describe her venom) and she does not understand the definition of "populist". Sadly she lost what credibility the book and her research may have had. However, as she said it was Trump that led her to right this book. Maybe she should have changed the title and saved many Interesting. Could have been better, writing and organization. She would have received a 3 star if not for p.294 to the end where she had to allege Donald Trump was a white supremest, put children in cages etc etc (words cannot describe her venom) and she does not understand the definition of "populist". Sadly she lost what credibility the book and her research may have had. However, as she said it was Trump that led her to right this book. Maybe she should have changed the title and saved many readers from her opinions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James Sadler

    I found this book to be interesting and to a degree thought provoking initially. However the further I read it began to read like a justification for how the author and the rest of Germany think. The author takes potshots at nearly every other country in the world and chides them for not doing things that German way. Her attack of President Trump is typical of the left wing media and their 4 year hatefest. I do not believe as she appears to that rewriting history through tearing down monuments t I found this book to be interesting and to a degree thought provoking initially. However the further I read it began to read like a justification for how the author and the rest of Germany think. The author takes potshots at nearly every other country in the world and chides them for not doing things that German way. Her attack of President Trump is typical of the left wing media and their 4 year hatefest. I do not believe as she appears to that rewriting history through tearing down monuments that are no longer in favor is a good thing. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it is an understatement when compared to those who learn from revised history and act from ignorance. I will not recommend this book to others primarily because I disagree with so much of it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I won this book on Goodreads. This book is a waste of time. I would have given it two stars if the author had just left out the last chapter spewing her warped opinions to herself but I had it give it the lowest rating of one star due to the last chapter. The history and memoir part of the book was OK but felt like a list of things that happened in history at times. But it was the last chapter that really offended me. The author falls in the same trap that the Nazi party is a right wing group wh I won this book on Goodreads. This book is a waste of time. I would have given it two stars if the author had just left out the last chapter spewing her warped opinions to herself but I had it give it the lowest rating of one star due to the last chapter. The history and memoir part of the book was OK but felt like a list of things that happened in history at times. But it was the last chapter that really offended me. The author falls in the same trap that the Nazi party is a right wing group when it is in reality a left wing group. She goes into a hatred spewing of President Trump and how he is promoting the same Nazi rhetoric when in fact he is promoting liberty and democracy while the left wings groups are more in line with the Nazi party's ideology. She even says that Trump puts children in cages, if you really believe that you are nuts! A complete waste of time, the book is total garbage.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen Schnakenberg

    An important, moving, and thought-provoking book. The author digs into the stories and histories of her two sets of grandparents -- one German and one French - during and after WWII - and tells their stories with wrenching honesty against the background of relevant historical events. The embedding of these family histories into their historical context makes the actions and decisions of the family members understandable but nevertheless disturbing. And Schwarz doesn't flinch from the difficultie An important, moving, and thought-provoking book. The author digs into the stories and histories of her two sets of grandparents -- one German and one French - during and after WWII - and tells their stories with wrenching honesty against the background of relevant historical events. The embedding of these family histories into their historical context makes the actions and decisions of the family members understandable but nevertheless disturbing. And Schwarz doesn't flinch from the difficulties, in particular examining the "amnesia" that overtook much of Europe after the war with regard to the existence of and responsibility for the Holocaust as well as the refusal of mostly all countries -- including the US - to accept Jewish refugees before, during, and after the war. The book is particularly important because it focuses on the sets of grandparents who are what German's refer to as "Mitlaufer," or those who follow the current. The are not party officials or government functionaries or soldiers or death camp attendants but very everyday middle class folks living in difficult circumstances under a dictatorship who don't oppose what is happening around them and in both small and large everyday actions contribute to the great harms those dictatorships commit. Her German grandparents, for example, purchase a business from Jewish siblings who are forced by the German government to sell their company at very far below market value and who also fight providing reparations to that Jewish family after the war. Her French grandfather is a policeman in France stationed just inside the northern border of the Vichy "free" zone and thus likely -- although not definitively - involved in the round-ups and deportations of Jews and other "undesirables" in the area. Schwarz makes their actions and thus their complicity (whether deliberate or otherwise) in the Nazi cause -- and that of the majority of citizens in Germany and France -- somewhat understandable but nevertheless a contributing factor to the success of the Nazi agenda. In the final chapters, she examines how major European countries -- Germany, France, italy, UK - dealt (or more importantly didn't deal) - with the aftermath of the war and in particular pushed knowledge of the atrocities of the war to the background. And finally, she examines more recent efforts to accept and come to terms with the reality of Holocaust and the war. And there is this passage that seems particularly pertinent today: "In Mein Kampf,Adolf Hitler writes, 'The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, an effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those mush be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.' His minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, recommended that 'those whom the propaganda is aimed at must become completely saturated with the ideas it contains, without ever realizing they are becoming saturated.' The mass rallies would, In Hitler's words 'burn into the small, wretched individual the proud conviction that , paltry worm that he was, he was nevertheless part of a great dragon.'" "One instigator of these rules of manipulation was he sociologist and psychologist Gustave Le Bon, whose book "The Psychology of Crowds" impressed and influenced the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as well as Joseph Goebbels and most likely Hitler as well. The book - which created an uproar when it came out in 1895, and which has lost none of its relevance in today's world--describes the transformation of an individual when he dissolves into a crowd, considerably reducing his faculties of reflection and personal will: 'the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these we see are the princpal characteristics of an individual forming part of a crowd. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will.' "To manipulate a crowd, Le Bon emphasized that a leader must use terms that bring up strong, impressive images, flatter the passions and desires of his audience, satisfy the taste crowds have for what is legendary, confuse the line between the unbelievable and the real, and above all, renounce all reasoning. In this way, he will obtain deference, self-sacrifice, and a sense of duty, to the point that the crowd will renounce deeply anchored human values." ("Those Who Forget" pp 250-251)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cgallozzi

    Listened via AudioBook “Those who forget” My family’s Story in Nazi Europe A Memoir A History A Warning Geraldine Schwarz “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”… George Santayana. A history of this French-German journalists’ family – (she was born in 1974) – her parents, her grandparents and mentions of her great grandparents. Theme was what was it like to live in Germany under the Third Reich for the ‘average’ German? What, if any, responsibility does the Average German or French Listened via AudioBook “Those who forget” My family’s Story in Nazi Europe A Memoir A History A Warning Geraldine Schwarz “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”… George Santayana. A history of this French-German journalists’ family – (she was born in 1974) – her parents, her grandparents and mentions of her great grandparents. Theme was what was it like to live in Germany under the Third Reich for the ‘average’ German? What, if any, responsibility does the Average German or French person bear? What is the historical narrative for France and Germany? How has it changed? What’s going on now? A family story – a catharsis of sorts. Principal Take Away Themes: 1. All bear some responsibility- The author ‘opens the frame’ with Germany and the move to National Socialism – but makes great reference to the Fascists in Italy – and how Hitler both learned from and admired Mussolini. The author posits that there were few mass protests as individuals’ rights were taken away – and mass roundups and incarcerations began. She recounts one movement of Jews out of Mannheim, Germany October, 1940 – where Jews were shipped out on Public Transportation and in broad daylight – with no public response. She further mentions that, in effect, this movement in broad daylight was a ‘test’ of ‘what the populace would allow’ – seeing no resistance these actions continued. The author makes the commentary that when the Non-Jewish old and infirm had been previously rounded up and sent to the Concentration Camps for sterilization there was a public outcry and the Nazi strategy was changed. 2. There are local ‘cycles of European’ History The author discusses a national historical Amnesia that both the French and Germans displayed surrounding their actions during WWII. This cycle was followed by a cycle of ‘False Narrative’ that the Germans were (really) fighting against Bolshevism; and that the average German knew nothing about the Holocaust related activities. The French also generated their False Narrative that they ‘resisted’ the Germans – not recognizing how Vichy Government aided the Germans. The author documents that since the reunification of Germany a ‘new right’ has arisen – AfD – Alternative for Deutschland which garnered approximately 13% of the seats in their Parliament. Also, in France the National Front garner ~33% of the seats in the French parliament. The United States Trumplicans (Republicans 40% of voters * 80% support Trump=32%) support ‘the new right’ in the United States. This book was written before the January 6, 2021 events and attendant Impeachment. Finally, the author documents the rise of the New Narrative – where support for Nationalism, Populism, support for Strongmen (who can get things done that I like….) has risen dramatically in Europe and in the U.S. – It seems as though values such an individual liberty, rule of law, etc., are to be subsumed by these passions of the moment – feeling versus thinking. I read this book with the context that….”it’s the 1920’s and 1930’s again….” This book is indeed a warning – mixes a detailed family story with a social commentary and analysis on the “goings-on” in Nazi Germany during this time period. Also discussed is an overview of Italian Fascism. A serious book to be taken seriously – with more of a description of the history – than of the current problem – much less a dialogue involving ‘what to do about this’ in the current timeframe. Interesting, relevant to today, well written and should be both read and reflected upon. Should be of interest to those who read Political Science and (WW2) History. Carl Gallozzi [email protected]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    Those Who Forget My Family's Story in Nazi Europe – A Memoir, A History, A Warning by Geraldine Schwarz Scribner Biographies & Memoirs Pub Date 22 Sep 2020 I am reviewing a copy of Those Who Forget through Scribner and Netgalley: Géraldine Schwartz grandparents were neither heroes or villains during World War 2. They were simply Mitlaüfer those who followed the current. After the war ended they wanted to bury the past under the wreckage the third reich left behind. The first mass deportation of the Those Who Forget My Family's Story in Nazi Europe – A Memoir, A History, A Warning by Geraldine Schwarz Scribner Biographies & Memoirs Pub Date 22 Sep 2020 I am reviewing a copy of Those Who Forget through Scribner and Netgalley: Géraldine Schwartz grandparents were neither heroes or villains during World War 2. They were simply Mitlaüfer those who followed the current. After the war ended they wanted to bury the past under the wreckage the third reich left behind. The first mass deportation of the Jews took place in the region Geraldine’s grandparents lived in October 1940. When more than 6500 Jews from the southwest of the country were deported to the Gurs camp in the south of France. After the war Geraldine’s Fathers family never talked about politics and in general discussions at the dinner table were rare. Geraldine’s Grandparents has thought their past was buried under the wreckage of the third reich until it reared it’s ugly head one morning in January of 1946. Karl Schwarz found an envelope in the mailbox with a return address that immediately implied bad tidings—Dr. Rebstein-Metzger, Lawyer, Mannheim. It wasn’t until decades later, while going through old filing cabinets in Mannheim that Schwartz discovers that in 1938, her paternal grandfather decided to take advantageous Nazi policies and bought a business from a Jewish Family for far less than what it was worth. She also finds letters from the only survivor of the family her Grandfather had bought the business from, (the rest had died in Auschwitz). The letter demanded reparations, but her Grandfather refused to admit his responsibility. Géraldine finds herself questioning the past. She can’t help but question how guilty her grandparents were. She questions what makes a person complicit? She investigates the role of her Grandfather on her Mother’s side a policeman in Vichy. Those Who Forget weaves together the threads of three generations of her family story with Europe’s process of post-war reckoning, Schwartz explores how millions were seduced by twisted ideology, and overcome by denial over what happened after the war. And In Germs especially managed to transform collective guilt into democratic responsibility. In this book She asks: How can nations learn from history? And she observes that countries that avoid confronting the past are especially vulnerable to extremism. I would recommend Those Who Forget to anyone who has ever posed the question how can we learn from history. I give Those Who. Forget five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Most times, the books I read about WWII and the Holocaust (and there have been many because I am continually drawn to them, no clue why, sort of like a moth to a flame or staring at horrible accident on the side of the road) pertain to biographies of victims (Anne Frank), fictional stories (Number the Stars), or of heroes vs villains (Captain America... er, that one's probably a stretch). This one was a fascinating read as well as a bit of a slog but I stuck with it because I like a challenge an Most times, the books I read about WWII and the Holocaust (and there have been many because I am continually drawn to them, no clue why, sort of like a moth to a flame or staring at horrible accident on the side of the road) pertain to biographies of victims (Anne Frank), fictional stories (Number the Stars), or of heroes vs villains (Captain America... er, that one's probably a stretch). This one was a fascinating read as well as a bit of a slog but I stuck with it because I like a challenge and it continued to interest me even as she meandered around history. I would highly recommend it to others who are avid history buffs like me. What must it have been like for the average German living through history; those who were neither victims of persecution nor rebellious heroes who stood up against the fascist and dictatorial tyranny during WWII? The author's grandparents were neither outright Nazi supporters but neither did they resist. They were mitlaufers - whose who followed the current. While some will want to bury what happened in the past and move forward, learning about history and all sides of it is important. The author, Geraldine Schwarz, called it "memory work" - confronting and learning rather than running from the ugly truths so as to prevent repeats; to march and shout "never again" in the streets. "[t]he advance of the far right in Europe and the United States reveals the need to rethink memory work, to adapt it to new generations for whom the Second World War feels like a long-ago crisis. It's important to tell a story people can identify with, a story of ordinary people, the Mitlaufer, and not only of heroes, victims, or monsters. To raise awareness that, if history as such does not repeat itself, sociological and psychological mechanisms do, which push individuals and societies to make irrational choices by supporting regimes and leaders who are opposed to their interests, by becoming complicit in criminal ideas and actions. The most dangerous monster is not a megalomaniacal and violent leader, but us, the people who make him possible, who give him the power to lead. By our opportunism, by our conformity to all-powerful capitalism, which places money and consumption over education, intelligence, and culture, we are in danger of losing the democracy, peace, and freedom that so many of our predecessors have fought to preserve."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fran Hawthorne

    The book has a promising premise: Author Geraldine Schwarz wanted to investigate her dual inheritance of Holocaust guilt -- from her father (born in Germany) and her mother (France), both during World War Two. There are no dramatic revelations in this book, largely because her relatives weren’t high-level Nazis or French collaborationists. But in a way, that makes the book even more important, because it was everyday people who enabled the rise of Hitler – the neighbor who “didn’t see anything,” The book has a promising premise: Author Geraldine Schwarz wanted to investigate her dual inheritance of Holocaust guilt -- from her father (born in Germany) and her mother (France), both during World War Two. There are no dramatic revelations in this book, largely because her relatives weren’t high-level Nazis or French collaborationists. But in a way, that makes the book even more important, because it was everyday people who enabled the rise of Hitler – the neighbor who “didn’t see anything,” who stopped shopping at Jewish-owned stores, who rushed into Jewish apartments to grab furniture, clothes, and other loot after the families were sent to Auschwitz. Schwarz’s grandfather, Karl, did exactly that – first buying a Jewish-owned oil company dirt-cheap, then helping himself to beautiful, Jewish-owned Art Deco living room furniture. He joined the Nazi party, which was pretty much mandatory for an ambitious businessman. Geraldine’s grandmother, Lydia, “was more devoted to Adolf Hitler than my grandfather,” Geraldine says. On Geraldine’s mother’s side, her grandfather Lucien’s role is murkier. He was a police officer under the collaborationist Vichy government, in a village right on the border with German-occupied France. Whenever Jews and Resistance members appeared, seeking to hide in Vichy, Geraldine clings to the hope that Lucien “looked the other way,” as he told his children, instead of arresting or shooting them. Hitler, along with her grandfathers, is long dead, But Geraldine Schwarz sees horrifying hints of the Fascist past returning, with the rise of ordinary people joining extreme nationalist, white power, xenophobic, and neo-Nazi movements in Europe and the U.S. (adapted from my review in “The New York Journal of Books”)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lex Allen

    This is a powerful book full of insight and analysis of the psyche of the German (and to a lessor extent, the French) people as it pertains to post-WW II Germany's attempt to reconcile themselves with the terrible history of Nazism. I have always wondered how the German people processed their involvement in Nazi Germany, Hitler's success at leadership of the most murderous regime ever, and the Holocaust. This book does a thorough and complete job of doing so in a unique way. Ms Schwarz book is m This is a powerful book full of insight and analysis of the psyche of the German (and to a lessor extent, the French) people as it pertains to post-WW II Germany's attempt to reconcile themselves with the terrible history of Nazism. I have always wondered how the German people processed their involvement in Nazi Germany, Hitler's success at leadership of the most murderous regime ever, and the Holocaust. This book does a thorough and complete job of doing so in a unique way. Ms Schwarz book is most remarkable and a must read for any student of history and especially WW II. Her description of the "memory work" of the German people's efforts to come to grips with what happened under Hitler and to hold themselves accountable is an inspiring story of social and political consciousness coming to the forefront to make sure "never again" is a reality. She also effectively contrasts the German's "memory work" with that of France, the Vichy government, and the French people. What was most powerful about the book was the story is told through the personal journey of the author, with her own "memory work" and how it impacted her family and her feelings about her family. Her German and French family roots give her a unique and rare perspective. Contrary to one review I read, I thought the writing style was very personable and made the reading of the book much easier to process than other "textbooks" on the subject. This writing is also clear and concise. This is the best I have read. I can't recommend it enough.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joe McMahon

    Those Who Forget, by Géraldine Schwarz, is my first read of 2021, but it will probably stay within the top five this year. For me, its strong point was that it organized the flow of history during eight decades of my life. The author's grandmother, Lydia, was born in 1901, shortly before the birth of my mother. I can recall the New York Daily News headlines of the Battle of the Bulge, when (to my chagrin) our side was losing. At the same time, the hint of disdain with which Mom spoke of Dr. Weil Those Who Forget, by Géraldine Schwarz, is my first read of 2021, but it will probably stay within the top five this year. For me, its strong point was that it organized the flow of history during eight decades of my life. The author's grandmother, Lydia, was born in 1901, shortly before the birth of my mother. I can recall the New York Daily News headlines of the Battle of the Bulge, when (to my chagrin) our side was losing. At the same time, the hint of disdain with which Mom spoke of Dr. Weil, the skilled neighborhood doctor, as a "refugee" puzzled me. The author succeeds in breaking up the attitudes of ordinary Germans and ordinary French into decades, where each group of people changed how they remembered the war and the opinion they had of their fellow citizens, or whose citizenship was removed. --- This is a personal history book, researched by a young academic, raised by a French mother and a German father who questioned his elder's attitudes. --- If I reread this book, I must copy dates of births, marriages, and deaths, in order to align the history with my own decades. The author is young. The translator (from French) seems to have added on page 244 the neologism "influencer" and events between the French publication and this American one. --- The author also follows the lives of the exiled Jews and met survivors, adding depth to her warm, humanistic narration. She is not clinical.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Audreza Das

    A wonderful recap of activities and instruments utilized post-WW-I that led to the rise and eventual fall of the Nazi regime in Germany as well as surrounding countries, allies and opposition alike, including a brief coverage of the Berlin wall and the Red Army. It also helps us understand how it took decades of work from political leaders, philosophers and historians alike to unearth what had happened during said Nazi regime and uncovering the wrongness of it unabashedly so and Germany's willin A wonderful recap of activities and instruments utilized post-WW-I that led to the rise and eventual fall of the Nazi regime in Germany as well as surrounding countries, allies and opposition alike, including a brief coverage of the Berlin wall and the Red Army. It also helps us understand how it took decades of work from political leaders, philosophers and historians alike to unearth what had happened during said Nazi regime and uncovering the wrongness of it unabashedly so and Germany's willingness to take adequate steps towards reshaping the psychology of their future generations making them not only cognizant of the same but also be ever indebted to their history in feeling reverential towards the journey the country has taken to rebuild its image as a leading democratic country. The book also outlines various methodologies used to blind its population to the Nazi propaganda and helps us realize that how in the face of global politics, alas! Not much has changed. My only greviance with this rather stellar work has to be how fragmented the last 100 odd pages felt in parts and I wish they were tied in as robustly as the rest of the book was. My heartfelt thanks to the author for taking the time to compile this book which I can only imagine painstakingly so to be as precise and immaculate as this was and I am sure which must have been no easy feat. All in all, bravo to a job well done.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vernon Luckert

    Review is of a free copy of this book. Overall this book is relatively well written, but I feel that the author's "bias" might have impacted the nature or depth of her research in some areas. Less of a review of the book, but more of a "comment" on the nature and tone of the content. It is happening again now: Several years ago, we walked through the Dachau Concentration Camp. There were numerous displays near the camp entrance, including a display outlining the actions and steps taken in the ris Review is of a free copy of this book. Overall this book is relatively well written, but I feel that the author's "bias" might have impacted the nature or depth of her research in some areas. Less of a review of the book, but more of a "comment" on the nature and tone of the content. It is happening again now: Several years ago, we walked through the Dachau Concentration Camp. There were numerous displays near the camp entrance, including a display outlining the actions and steps taken in the rise of the Nazi party. Some of these outlined steps include, but were not limited to, "gun control" (confiscation of firearms from the people), control of the curriculum of the schools, control/dominance of the media, suppression and censorship of dissent (especially political dissent) and identification of an enemy/scapegoat of the people and state (Jews). In the United States, there is one political party that is currently taking, or attempting to take, many, if not all, of the same actions/steps that the Nazi party utilized to rise to power (it is not the party of President Trump). If the author, or readers of this book, believe that the promise of “Never Again” must be pursued; then they should be actively opposing the actions of this political party now. Some might say that “it is not that bad”, or “it would never happen here”; but no doubt that is what many of the German “Mitlaufer” said at the start too.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul Miller

    The average German in WWII didn’t know anything about what was happening to Jews in Europe, right? I recall discussions on this topic when I worked at IBM in the late 80’s and it was discovered that the Holocaust was managed w/ IBM computers. It’s been slowly revealed over the years how NOT secret and hidden the “Final Solution” really was. This book puts a very human face on it. In this memoir, the author shares her discoveries of her French and German grandparents' experiences during that time The average German in WWII didn’t know anything about what was happening to Jews in Europe, right? I recall discussions on this topic when I worked at IBM in the late 80’s and it was discovered that the Holocaust was managed w/ IBM computers. It’s been slowly revealed over the years how NOT secret and hidden the “Final Solution” really was. This book puts a very human face on it. In this memoir, the author shares her discoveries of her French and German grandparents' experiences during that time. While not openly anti-Semitic, they purchase a Jewish owned business for cheap as the owner is forced to sell; they procure furniture and artwork for a song from a Jewish family selling everything they have before being deported… on and on. The book recounts how Hitler kept pushing the envelope - how far would the people allow him to go? They pushed back when he was eliminating the disabled so he stopped! There was no similar resistance for the Jews. The author chronicles how Germany practiced ‘purposeful amnesia’ for many decades. Well worth a read as it will heighten your sensitivity for how things can progress when a citizenry practices small capitulations towards political power - tolerating looting and criminal behavior, practicing censorship, blacklisting opponents…. the story doesn’t end well.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    This book is partly a story about the author’s German grandparents who were “neither heroes nor villains; they were merely Mitlaufer.” I found the book very enjoyable while she stayed on topic of her ancestors living in Germany – before, during and after World War II. The gain and loss of small petroleum products business made a large impact on her family. The background on the lives of both sides of her family, German and French, was fascinating. But that is where it stopped… For me, I found th This book is partly a story about the author’s German grandparents who were “neither heroes nor villains; they were merely Mitlaufer.” I found the book very enjoyable while she stayed on topic of her ancestors living in Germany – before, during and after World War II. The gain and loss of small petroleum products business made a large impact on her family. The background on the lives of both sides of her family, German and French, was fascinating. But that is where it stopped… For me, I found the book tedious when she deviated from this topic. The book has so many rabbit trails above and beyond World War II, such as, the history of Germany, Britain, France, and numerous other countries. Actually, the book extends to current day politics including the United States. If I had known she would get into the recent U.S. political climate, I would have totally passed on this book. The title is very misleading since it seemed most of the book is NOT about her family’s story in Nazi Europe, which I found most interesting. It is weighed down with so much of the author’s opinion and world history that I really did not enjoy the book since the title of the book set different expectations. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lara Lillibridge

    “If conceiving of Auschwitz was difficult, it was still impossible to have 'seen nothing, heard nothing,' and for some, 'done nothing,' as my grandparents’ generation claimed until their deaths. This book is both heavily researched and personal as the writer examines the culpability of former Nazi sympathizers not only in her own family but in the region. At times it was hard to read and be reminded of just how the world turned its back on the Jews and the subsequent denial or "amnesia" that fol “If conceiving of Auschwitz was difficult, it was still impossible to have 'seen nothing, heard nothing,' and for some, 'done nothing,' as my grandparents’ generation claimed until their deaths. This book is both heavily researched and personal as the writer examines the culpability of former Nazi sympathizers not only in her own family but in the region. At times it was hard to read and be reminded of just how the world turned its back on the Jews and the subsequent denial or "amnesia" that followed WWII, but this is an important book told from an angle I've not previously read. Schwarz traces xenophobia past the fall of the Berlin wall and immigration in present times. Yet she writes, "how I love Berlin." Schwarz reminds us that, "On the ashes of dictatorships, people built democracy, liberty, and peace through their own hard work." Schwarz tackles colonialism and draws connections to the horrific crimes against Indigenous people in the US as well as slavery and the US's historical treatment of people of color. It is a call to awaken our "collective awareness" of our monstrous pasts. The final chapter has a thoughtful analysis on Trump in terms of Fascism that is exceedingly timely and nuanced.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Cobb Sabatini

    I won a copy of Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe - A Memoir, A History, A Warning by Geraldine Schwarz from Goodreads. A sobering and eye opening page turner, Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe - A Memoir, A History, A Warning, by Geraldine Schwarz, brings to a personal level the atrocities of the Nazi Regime and the aftermath. Schwarz shares with readers the history of her own parents as children in Vichy, France, and of her husband's parents as children in Nazi I won a copy of Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe - A Memoir, A History, A Warning by Geraldine Schwarz from Goodreads. A sobering and eye opening page turner, Those Who Forget: My Family's Story in Nazi Europe - A Memoir, A History, A Warning, by Geraldine Schwarz, brings to a personal level the atrocities of the Nazi Regime and the aftermath. Schwarz shares with readers the history of her own parents as children in Vichy, France, and of her husband's parents as children in Nazi Germany. Using her own interviews and research, the author also includes the personal stories of relatives and high profile victims to chronicle the horrific incidents. Told with compassion, insight, and an unflinching facing of the truth, Schwarz reminds readers of how easily ordinary people are caught up in world events. This important book serves as a warning for the world concerning the rise of nationalism, the dangers it poses, and all the harm that has already resulted. The author's own wide words, printed on page 303, say it best: "The most dangerous monster is not a megalomaniacal and violent leader, but us, the people who make him possible, who give him the power to lead."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Meredith D

    This lovely work-in-translation by French-German journalist & documentarian Géraldine Schwarz brands itself partly as a memoir, & it is, but it reads much more like a reference text in it’s clear conveyance of fact & analysis regarding the “Mitläufer” - the “middle people” who bear responsibility for the atrocities of the Second World War & Holocaust, no matter how passive their involvement, & perhaps because of it. Where the memoir bit comes in is through Schwarz’s exploration of this via the l This lovely work-in-translation by French-German journalist & documentarian Géraldine Schwarz brands itself partly as a memoir, & it is, but it reads much more like a reference text in it’s clear conveyance of fact & analysis regarding the “Mitläufer” - the “middle people” who bear responsibility for the atrocities of the Second World War & Holocaust, no matter how passive their involvement, & perhaps because of it. Where the memoir bit comes in is through Schwarz’s exploration of this via the lense of her own grandparents, who, while not explicitly fanatical German Nazis, certainly aligned themselves with Nazism either out of naïveté, fear, opportunism, or a combination of these. This book really surprised me - I was hooked about 30 pages in & read it cover to cover in under 24 hours. I was captivated by the personal family history represented in here, but too, in the clear parallels Schwarz’s study draws to both the American history and the American present - politically & sociologically. Schwarz examines the Mitläufer of both past and present, including members of her own family, with a frankness & objectivity that lends the story further credibility, and presents with depth & clarity a warning of the dangers of the passivity of the majority of people who fall somewhere in the middle ground between hero and villain - those who may witness crimes against humanity, & turn away in shame. I was left with a prescient urging to ensure care in examining what our economic systems are justifying by way of human atrocities & violations of life, a testimony to the power of the masses - for better or for worse, & perhaps most impressively, a hope for the balm that responsible & conscious memory work can provide for a society, provided we are diligent about taking it on & passing it on to future generations. Would highly recommend to anyone seeking answers in the face of rising populist & nationalist movements worldwide, or to anyone interested in a more dynamic & fresh take on WWII & Holocaust History.

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