In October 1940 Nazis forced all the Jews in the Polish city of Warsaw to live in the cramped squalor of a small ghetto. Despite the starvation and disease that claimed 50,000 lives per year, the Jews were not dying swiftly enough to suit Heinrich Himmler, who ordered in 1942 that the Warsaw Ghetto be dismantled and the 450,000 inhabitants be deported to the gas chambers at Treblinka. On April 19, 1943, the first day of Passover, two thousand German troops, singing confidently, marched into the ghetto to round up the remnant of remaining Jews. Suddenly, a fifteen-year-old girl tossed a grenade in their midst. Within minutes the German army had been routed. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising had begin.This is the first full-scale, step-by-step account of the climatic twenty-eight-day struggle of the poorly armed Jews against their Nazi exterminators. The Bravest Battle took more than two years to write and involved interviewing more than 500 people, including most of the surviving fighters. This moving history cannot be matched for its authenticity and drama. The Bravest Battle is a testament to the Warsaw Jews, who fought for survival with dignity and courage.
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US Kirkus Review »
By the spring of 1943, the ghettoized Jewish population was less than a tenth of its size before the Nazi occupation, and 1500 fighters finally prepared for battle. One group, the ZOB, was composed of leftists and left-wing Zionists, while the more conservative ZZW had ties, including weapons supply lines, to the Polish Home Army. Events are reconstructed through the eyes of participants (Kurzman conducted 500 interviews and reproduces conversational detail extensively). The closeups include not only Jewish leaders but the commander of the Nazi butchers, SS General Jurgen Stroop, and Walther Tobbens, a German industrialist who hated to see his slave-labor supply disappear, as well as Polish Home Army captain Iwanski, who gave crucial help to the Jews. The book focuses so closely on the day-to-day, bunker-by-bunker sequence of the four-week uprising, however, that the shape of events remains rather elusive. The War Against the Jews (1975) by Lucy Dawidowicz and the extensively documented Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto (1975) by Ber Mark both stressed political and sociological cleavages within the ghetto struggle. By contrast, the fight is seen here as purgative violence, "the beginning of an iron militancy rooted in the will to survive" which "symbolically ended 2000 years of submission" and bridged the way to the creation of the State of Israel. Within this controversial framework, the bravery of the insurgents and the horror of the extermination are commemorated in existential detail. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Dan Kurzman
Dan Kurzman, former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, is the award-winning author of sixteen highly acclaimed books, including Fatal Voyage and Bravest Battle. He lives in New Jersey.