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Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-49

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  44 reviews
The Holocaust has never been so widely commemorated, but our understanding of the accepted narrative has rarely, if ever, been questioned. David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenges accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany and the inevitability of the 'Final Solution'.

The persecution of the Jews was not always the Nazis' central preoccupati
Hardcover, 800 pages
Published September 10th 2015 by Macmillan (first published September 1st 2015)
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Pramod Negi If you would like to build your understanding and create curiosity about anti-semitism. It created a lot of curiosity for me at least, and I read and …moreIf you would like to build your understanding and create curiosity about anti-semitism. It created a lot of curiosity for me at least, and I read and watched more about it.(less)
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Many books are badged as the definitive, the standard or the must read on a subject. I'd not want to suggest David Cesarani's is the definitive book on the Final Solution as research and archives will over time change or add new information to develop our understanding. But, I would wholeheartedly suggest that if you read just one book on this terrible subject you would not go far wrong with this.

It is mammoth and packed with information and a list of sources, notes and index that is itself the
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exhaustive, and exhausting, history of the Holocaust. David Cesarani presents the progress of the Holocaust as uncoordinated and muddled, its progress shaped by Germany’s fortunes in the war. Although undoubtedly comprehensive, and a monumental piece of work, at times I found the sheer amount of detail overwhelmed both me and the story of the Jews.
Tim Pendry

I have an extensive library on the Holocaust or the Shoah or whatever you wish to call one of the most unpleasant and cruel episodes in human history. It has fascinated me ever since I was almost physically sick at the age of 12 when I came across the story of Nazi medical experimentation.

But my interest has never been ghoulish nor, at the other extreme, a search for meaning where there is none. Nor am I Jewish where identity itself makes objectivity difficult, almost inhuman. To be an objective
Angela Tiu
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me approximately 3 weeks to finish this massive tome. The subject matter is one I've always been weirdly fascinated by. I went on a 3-week (hey, look at that) tour around Europe in 2013 and two of the stops in our itinerary included Amsterdam and Berlin. A visit to the Anne Frank museum in Prinsengracht got me to finally buy and read her diary which started this whole fascination with all things related to the Holocaust. A visit to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin and the Sachsenhausen c ...more
Lee Osborne
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those rare books I'm awarding 5 stars, because of the profound impact it had on me.

As you can see, this book took me some time to read, both because it was long but mainly because the content is extremely distressing. It traces Nazi persecution of Jews from its ideological roots in the aftermath of the First World War, right through to the late 1940s, as the few survivors of the Holocaust attempted to rebuild their lives.

We all know the basics of what happened, but the level of sheer bru
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A staggering and detailed chronicle of the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis. Cesarani's examination of the Holocaust is depressing, frightening and essential and a major work of scholarship from the late historian. Let it stand as a warning to all of us, as well as an appropriate memorial to its author. ...more
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am starting a sabbatical next month, during which I hope to finish writing a play about one specific event during the Shoah. That said, this has been a lifelong interest. As a theatre director, I have done multiple plays dealing with the events that engulfed first Germany and then the world: Good, A Shayna Maidel, The Diary of Anne Frank, I Never Saw Another Butterfly and others. You might call these microcosmic views of the event.

Cesarani has written an almost unbearable macrocosmic treatment
Chris Jaffe
This is very informative and exhaustive (at times exhausting) account of the Holocaust from the rise of the Nazis until the post-war situation with DPs (Displaced Persons) had been worked out.

Cesarani argues that the Holocaust was not simply a case of anti-Semitism, though clearly that was a huge factor. It also stemmed from the war itself. Hitler and the Nazis were always heavily anti-Semitic but they rarely had clear long-range plans, and created policies on what was often an ad hoc, seemingly
Natalie Wood
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The late Anglo-Jewish historian David Cesarani not only led the development of modern ‘Holocaust consciousness’, he fairly overturned the study of the period in several ways.

These included a revision of the history of Bergen -Belsen concentration camp “showing how it had … only become involved with the Final Solution in the late stages of the war”.

More startling yet, said Cesarani’s friend and colleague Professor Dan Stone, delivering the introductory paper at a memorial conference he convened i
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkably well written book about the fate of the jews between 1933 and 1949. Also about as complete as can be expected.

At about a third in the book almost becomes unbearable, and that is before operation Barbarossa has even started, after which things become much worse. It is not an easy read.

The book follows, by design, eyewitnesses from the time and not all survive. This makes it somewhat different from eyewitness accounts created by survivors afterwards as this also shows attitudes at the
Justin Sarginson
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The definitive account of the suspicion, violation and murder of the Jews by many parties during the 1930s & 40s. David Cesarani's account pulls no punches as it shines the light of the truth on who and why so many innocent people were murdered. To David's credit, he breaks boundaries by detailing how the Jews fought, denounced and betrayed themselves, which tells it's own tale of misery. This account should be read by everyone and the story should never be stopped being told. Heartbreaking. ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't really add more than what the critics have written other than to say it was a very compelling, articulate and complete history of the beginning to the conclusion of the assault and extermination of our people in Nazi Germany and the countries under its control.

There are similarities about the rise of authoritarianism to our current political situation. Hitler was elected too.
Christian Ohlsson
So necessary to read in these days. So well written and interesting. So very sad and heartbreaking to read about the process that lead to the worst genocide we hopefully ever will see. This may never be forgotten. Never.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As harrowing and exhausting a read as I've ever experienced. We should all read this. ...more
David Railton
Meticulous detail undoubtedly, but this, for me, gets in the way of the human tragedy. The individual stories and the sheer scale of the atrocities are harrowing, but lost somewhat in the detail.
In this exhaustive (and exhausting) deep, deep dive into the Shoah, the late David Cesarani covers everything you can imagine, and much that you can't, about the preparation for, execution of, and aftermath of the murder of at least six million people.

I learned some important things about my reading preferences in the considerable amount of time it took me to read Final Solution. I'm clearly much more able to gather references for further study when it's relayed to me in the narrative of person
Paul C. Stalder
A moving tome that focuses primarily on first hand accounts of those who suffered under the Nazi regime. This focus provides Cesarani with fascinating insights into the true horror of Jewish murder and persecution during the Second World War. There was much I learned while reading this book; and some that was unlearned. You cannot approach any conversation about WWII the same after reading this book. While it is a lengthy, and at points tasking, read, it is worth it.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harrowing and humbling. I think this is a magnificent achievement - the best single-volume history of the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews that I have read.

Obviously this is not easy to read: the appalling death toll and cruelty was hard to bear, even though I have read about it many times before. What Cesarini does so well, I think, is maintain a series of multiple focuses: on policy-making; on the structures of implementation; on the effects on the victims, and on their individual experiences; o
Billy Gunn
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Massive book on a massive subject. Quite political, this is NOT another Holocaust Survivor point of view volume. David Cesarani in my view is on of THE world leading experts on the subject of Hitler, Nazism and the Holocaust.

If you're looking to see how the Genocide of the Jews and to some extent of the German people themselves came to being then this might be a very good book to read.

Here you will not see with graphic depictions the life within the Concentration Camps and Death Camps, there are
Dez Sellin-Mcwatters
My motivation for reading this book came after visiting the former Saschenhausen concentration camp late last year. We did a walking tour with a local Jewish German man who was very descriptive and knowledgeable of the holocaust/fate of the Jews.

This book provides a readable recollection of events between 1933 and 1949. The book is quite difficult to put down as it engages the reader wholeheartedly into the events in which unfolded. I still cannot come to grips with the fact that this mass genoc
Varapanyo Bhikkhu
Jan 30, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Panagiotis Heliotis:

The reader may have noticed that words like Holocaust, extermination or destruction do not appear in the book’s title or even the chapters. This is supposed to be an all-encompassing work, including the Holocaust but not focusing too much on it. For Cesarani, even the word itself is out of date. In his own words “the term is arguably well past its sell-by date” (p. xxix). Revisionists would add “and not only that”.

So, from the revisionist viewpoint, Professor Cesarani proves
Hannah Scott-Ravikumar
A tour de force. I was lucky enough to hear David Cesarani lecture, and several points he brought up in those lectures surfaced in this book (albeit in much more detail). Compassionately written. This book challenges several pre-conceived notions about the Holocaust/Shoah, and argues that the Shoah is inseparable from World War II, and that the Shoah was shaped by the war. David Cesarani doesn't miss anything. This is, I believe (and I don't use these words lightly) THE definitive history of the ...more
Excellent book. The in depth look into what the Jewish population went through should be read by everyone. Yes, it is a sad, sad, book filled with death on almost every page, but that has got to be remembered throughout history. Do wish there was more on how the Allies handled the problem. That was the only part that seemed short.
Dw Duke
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was excellent though it was quite detailed. It is quite a bit of information to absorb in just one reading. Yet, it contains very important information about the nature of circumstances leading up to the Holocaust and during the Holocaust. One can see anti-Semitism rising over the 30's and the reaction to the response around the world. ...more
Dead John Williams
David Cesarani was a historian, he died just after this book was published.

It is now late January and I have only just finished this book. I started it in mid November. It is over 1000 pages, you cannot call this a quick and easy read. It is not quick and definitely not easy.

As per the title, this book details what happened to the Jews from 1933 to 1949. I think one of the main characteristics of this book would be that the writing is devoid of emotion. I read someone else describing this book a
David Sherwin
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read. Obviously, extremely grim in parts, but that was to be expected. In terms of a very detailed version of events, this book provides that. One of the major themes that I picked up from the book was just how many countries had blood on their hands (especially Eastern Europe - Poland, Lithuania etc - they were every bit as terrible to the Jews as the Germans). And the fact that many countries were very anti-Semitic from way back, especially after the end of WW1.

Also how many of t
Mr Rhodri Hughes

Harrowing account of the persecution and murder of European Jews. Meticulous in his research and copious references, the author takes us on a journey from the birth of the Nazis twisted ideology to its culmination in the murder of so many. The precise enumeration of the countless massacres makes for difficult but obligatory reading. The narrative is all the more shocking for the fact that no country or leader emerges as a defender of the Jews, even after the war has ended, justice is
Dr. Andrew Higgins
One of the most moving and incredibly researched books I have ever read. Read it in prep for Imperial War Museums groundbreaking new Second World War II and Holocaust Galleries opening at IWM London in 2021. It is not an easy read but it is a must read. Highly recommend.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brutal book to get through. Well written, detailed and fill of horror that makes one wish this was fiction - but it's all too horribly true. ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most harrowing and shocking books you will ever read on the Nazis inhumanity against its fellow men, women and children.
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David Cesarani OBE was an English historian who specialised in Jewish history, especially the Holocaust.

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