Page 229 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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“Like Van Loon, Mrs. Schechter invites the judgment of chil­
dren. She gives them journals, letters, and diaries which lend
immediacy to history. She shows them the necessity of weighing
evidence, sharpening perception, and leaning toward tolerance
and compassion. And yet, she eschews fictitious dialogue and
resists the temptation of retrospective mind-reading, she paints
powerful word-pictures.
“ ‘Bring in the prisoner,’ cries the presiding judge at Dreyfus’s
second trial, after this ‘shadowy, faceless symbol of treachery’
had served almost five years in solitary confinement on Devil’s
Island. A wizened old man enters, a man who has endured things
unendurable. ‘Dreyfus walked forward stiffly, saluted suddenly,
and sitting down heavily, removed his kepi, put it in his lap, and
folded his white-gloved hands on top of it.’ When he spoke, ‘it
was in loud, harsh tones that grated raspingly on the quiet air.’
‘Alfred Dreyfus, Captain of Artillery, 39 years old.’ Dry, hollow,
hoarse, Dreyfus’s voice seemed like that of a man who had died
and had been returned to life from the grave.’
“Behind the incredible drama, Mrs. Schechter unrolls a canvas
of modern Jewish history. The roots of anti-Semitism are laid
bare; the provinciality and cruelty beneath the veneer of fin-de-
siecle enlightenment, when man believed himself both improbable
and improving, are anatomized.
“ The Dreyfus Affair
deserves special commendation because
the fields of history and biography are being exploited today.
We are in danger of being inundated by a ‘title’ wave, and the
need to apply critical judgment becomes increasingly acute. In
an era of mass pressures and mass markets, Mrs. Schechter’s book,
which avoids the presumption of speaking up or the condescen­
sion of talking down, is a work of truth and a pearl of price.”
Zosa Szajkowski
In presenting the Leon Jolson Award for a Book on the Nazi
Holocaust, Dr. Abraham G. Duker, professor of history and social
institutions at Yeshiva University, said, in part:
“My presentation is a small award to an assiduous researcher
and prolific historian. A work such as
Analytical Franco-Jewish
Gazetteer, 1939-1945,
should have been a product of a research
team. But surprisingly and understandably to those who know
Szajkowski, the book is his own, privately published, of course,
with the aid of several foundations. The volume describes a most
significant chapter in the history of the Jews in France. There
the catastrophe began before Hitler’s victory, when foreign Jews
and Spanish refugees were interned in camps by the French
government after the outbreak of the war.