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After Such Knowledge

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After Such Knowledge
Memory, History and the Legacy of the Holocaust. By Eva Hoffman. (Public Affairs Press, New York: 2005. Pg. xv, 301.) Paperback Edition ISBN: 1-58648-304-8.

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - May 23, 2005

The history of the Holocaust (Shoah) has been told in large part through the words of those that survived or witnessed this unprecedented example of barbarity. In fact many survivors, have commented that only those that endured the horrors of the Holocaust have the right and the authority to impart their version of the Holocaust. Yet as those that survived age and their numbers dwindle, how will the memory and morel lessons learned be transmitted to succeeding generations? In After Such Knowledge: Memory, History and the Legacy of the Holocaust, Eva Hoffman explores how the events of the Holocaust where transmitted to the children of the survivors, and the responsibility that they now have to ensure that the legacy of the Holocaust does not fade from the popular memory.

Born in Cracow, Poland and the child of Holocaust survivors, Hoffman is a respected Holocaust scholar and she brings both her personal and academic experiences to this work. After Such Knowledge is composed of series of related contemplative essays that explore the impact that the Holocaust had on the "second generation" and how they came to learn about the Holocaust. Most important, in these essyas Hoffman examines the role that the "second generation" will have in transmitting this information to future generations - and the duty they have to ensure this knowledge is preserved.

After Such Knowledge is more than 'just' a history book. This is a significant work that looks at the psychological aspects imposed by the Holocaust experiences, on both the survivors and their offspring. It is also an ethical treatise that examines the moral and social responsibility that these offspring have in insuring that future generations understand how the Holocaust came to transpire and what happened to those caught in its deadly grip. As important, this book delineates the lessons that mankind should have learned from these events, and should have used to prevent future genocidal actions. Tragically these lessons have yet to be mastered, making it all the more important that the "second generation" continues to keep the historical and political legacy of the Holocaust alive.

After Such Knowledge is accessible to both general readers and scholars and will profit anyone with an interest in the history of the Holocaust. It is also a ground breaking work that should be required reading in any course on the Holocaust or Jewish history. It will also serve well in any college course dealing with genocide and its aftermath. Written as a series of essays, this book can be read in parts or as a whole, making it convenient to assign readings that are tailored to a given syllabus. The text also includes a 'selected bibliography' that will provide general readers and scholars with ample direction for future study.


Related Reviews:

Auschwitz: A New History, by Laurence Rees.
A sweeping history Auschwitz, the notorious death camp. This account includes information garnered from more than a hundred interviews that Rees conducted with both camp survivors and Nazi perpetrators.

All Or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust, 1941-43, By Jonathan Steinberg.
An astute overview of how Nazi German and Fascist Italy differed in their treatment toward the Jews. Steinberg also examines what motivated some Italians to protect the Jews, while their German colleagues actively participated in the murders of the Jews.

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