The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath

The Liberation of the Camps Book Cover The Liberation of the Camps
Dan Stone
History
Yale University Press
2015-04-21
288

Seventy years have passed since the tortured inmates of Hitler’s concentration and extermination camps were liberated. When the horror of the atrocities came fully to light, it was easy for others to imagine the joyful relief of freed prisoners. Yet for those who had survived the unimaginable, the experience of liberation was a slow, grueling journey back to life. In this unprecedented inquiry into the days, months, and years following the arrival of Allied forces at the Nazi camps, a foremost historian of the Holocaust draws on archival sources and especially on eyewitness testimonies to reveal the complex challenges liberated victims faced and the daunting tasks their liberators undertook to help them reclaim their shattered lives.

Historian Dan Stone focuses on the survivors—their feelings of guilt, exhaustion, fear, shame for having survived, and devastating grief for lost family members; their immense medical problems; and their later demands to be released from Displaced Persons camps and resettled in countries of their own choosing. Stone also tracks the efforts of British, American, Canadian, and Russian liberators as they contended with survivors’ immediate needs, then grappled with longer-term issues that shaped the postwar world and ushered in the first chill of the Cold War years ahead.

 

Review:

“The Liberation of the Camps” is a book that manages to make itself unique in a history genre that can feel a bit crowded at times.

What sets the book apart is the liberal use of primary sources from a variety of different situations that occurred after liberation.  Many of them, including the fact that many Survivors were kept in the camp for a long period after the actual liberation, are unknown to many people.  It’s a very comprehensive resource for those with an interest in Holocaust history.

The one major flaw is that it can be dry at times.  It’s definitely by an academic and meant for those with a scholarly interest in the Holocaust, but even by those standards it can be dry.  I have a degree in history, so feel like I have seen both sides of the “dry history” spectrum.  This one is not awful, simply dry in the medium range on the spectrum.  Not enough to be boring, but not something to be consumed in large doses.

Overall, the content and primary sources make “The Liberation of the Camps” worth the time for those with an academic interest in the Holocaust.  However, for anyone else it would probably be a bit of a bore.  Four stars are given for the wealth of information provided, not the writing itself.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

As this is an adult and non-fiction title, there are no content warnings.

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