Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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23
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
self-sacrificing vigor of the Jewish settlers. What Koestler has
chiefly set out to do is to probe and to dramatize the emotional
tension of the sensitive, highly civilized Jewish intellectual who
finds himself fighting for a Jewish state in Palestine while the
memories of recent Jewish experiences in European lands are still
bitterly fresh in his mind, and in so doing, he brings home the
plight of the Jews more effectively than can any newspaper and
magazine article. The torrid arguments about Palestine in a score
of books do not in total carry anything like the sense of living
land and people conveyed in his
Thieves in the night.
Like many
another of Koestler’s writings it is an unforgettable document on
the desperate sickness of our time.
The aggravated relations between the British and the Jews,
bordering on a state of war today, has focused attention on Pales-
tine and on the plight of Europe’s homeless Jews. In this frame-
work a number of volumes which appeared during the year assume
special significance. The role played by such a book as Koestler’s
Thieves in the night
in clarifying the problem can hardly be over-
estimated. But the extent of endurance of untold trials and
tribulations homeless European Jews have gone through in order
to find their way to the Jewish homeland are described in works
of a different kind — books by men whose first hand contact with
the desperate efforts Jewish victims of persecution are making in
order to gain an opportunity for the carrying on of life with a
measure of dignity and self-respect. The exciting story of heroic
and dangerous efforts in this direction — often successful, some-
times ending in tragedy — to spirit refugees out of the Balkan
countries during the war and secure their admission into Palestine
is told in
Lifeline to a promised land
by Ira A. Hirschmann (New
York, Vanguard, 1946), the special War Refugee Board repre-
sentative who directed this undertaking. Hirschmann was sent
to the Near East by President Roosevelt to negotiate a “deal”
with two Hungarian agents — a trade of Jewish lives for American
trucks. •His account presents a remarkably clear and readable
picture of the stumbling steps to rescue H itler’s victims despite
conferences, blind alleys and horse and buggy diplomacy in the
atomic age.
Underground to Palestine
by Isidor F. Stone (New
York, Boni and Gaer, 1946) is a record of the au thor’s trip to
Palestine arranged by the Jewish underground movement as a
par t of the so-called “ illegal immigration” of Jews from Europe.
I t is the story of adventure — one of the most exciting of our
time — a tale of the greatest mass migration in the history of a
wandering people, and gives a vivid description of experiences on
the underground railroad tha t leads Jewish D P ’s to Palestine.
Mr. Stone “ travelled with all kinds of folk, young and old, simple