The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz, and a Village Caught In Between by Michael Dobbs
In 1938, on the eve of World War II, the American journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote that “a piece of paper with a stamp on it” was “the difference between life and death.” The Unwanted is the intimate account of a small village on the edge of the Black Forest whose Jewish families desperately pursued American visas to flee the Nazis. Battling formidable bureaucratic obstacles, some make it to the United States while others are unable to obtain the necessary documents. Some are murdered in Auschwitz, their applications for American visas still “pending.”
Drawing on previously unpublished letters, diaries, interviews, and visa records, Michael Dobbs provides an illuminating account of America’s response to the refugee crisis of the 1930s and 1940s. He describes the deportation of German Jews to France in October 1940, along with their continuing quest for American visas. And he re-creates the heated debates among U.S. officials over whether or not to admit refugees amid growing concerns about “fifth columnists,” at a time when the American public was deeply isolationist, xenophobic, and antisemitic.
A Holocaust story that is both German and American, The Unwanted vividly captures the experiences of a small community struggling to survive amid tumultuous world events.
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