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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining for Lives in the Holocaust [Hardcover] » User review

The Hungarian Jews piece of the Holocaust Puzzle

  • Jul 9, 2010

As with all Holocaust historical non-fiction, this was a heart-wrenching story of one jewish man's struggle to help save jewish lives that was frustrating at times and nearly brought me to tears.  This story, set from 1940 to the end of the war, explained the Zionist movement to form the Israeli state better to me than any history course I have taken.  However unpatriotic this statement is, Emissary of the Doomed showed how complicit the Allies were during the plight of the jews.  The story surrounding Joel Brand, the supposed hungarian jewish emissary to the Allied Forces, is quite tragic.  He faces a dead line set by Adolf Eichmann in which Brand has to get the Allied forces to trade thousands of military trucks for 50,000 jewish lives.  Brand crosses many borders with so much sincerity only to be set aside by the British for weeks past the dead line.  Emissary of the Doomed has many historical parallels that are told, such as how the truth of the concentration camps was spread through Europe after two men had escaped Auschwitz.  If you were moved by Schindler's List, this is a book to read.  It is not the warmest story to read, I was disgusted by Brand's naivete at times, but it is a great exposition of the unheroic efforts of the Allies.

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Robbie ()
Ranked #1775
I'm an avid reader. I prefer to read classical literature, science non-fiction, and philosophical literature.
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About this book


In a taut, detailed narrative, historian Florence (A Blood Libel) relates Joel Brand's efforts to save Hungary's Jews from the Holocaust. In April 1944, Brand, a disheveled Jewish businessman was living in Budapest, working with fellow Zionists on a secret rescue committee. He met with notorious SS officer Adolf Eichmann (responsible for shipping Eastern European Jews to the death camps), who offered to sell Brand the freedom of almost a million Hungarian Jews for 10,000 heavy-duty military trucks. With this offer, Brand contacted the Allies and the Jewish Agency in Palestine. The Jewish Agency's Moshe Shertok, though incredulous, presented the proposal to the British high commissioner in Palestine, who asserted Eichmann's proposal was another Nazi intrigue and Brand a Nazi agent. Brand was eventually jailed in Cairo by the British. Some questioned Brand's competence, but Brand himself always believed his mission had been betrayed by Jewish Agency officials who couldn't grasp the reality of the Final Solution. Although Brand's story is known—particularly through his testimony in two postwar trials (including Eichmann's in 1961), Florence (Lawrence and Aaronsohn) paints a colorful but dispiriting tale of mankind's gross inhumanity.(Jan.)
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