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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







Books of Interest

Hitler and the Holocaust
by Robert S Wistrich

Weidenfeld & Nicholson-London
322 pp Price: £12.99

The German mass murder of six million Jews during the Second World War was the most horrifying event of twentieth-century history. This illuminating book provides new answers to the “big question” of why Hitler’s Holocaust happened. The book explores the fateful interaction between Hitler’s salvationist based on racial myth, the long tradition of Christian and secular anti-Semitism, the social upheavals in German society and the technical advances of modernity.

In this vividly written account, Professor Wistrich analyses the apocalyptic nature of the Nazi German racial project, the pan-European scale of collaboration in mass murder and the indifference of the western allies, the Vatican and the Christian churches to the tragic plight of the Jews.

We believe it was more than indifference: Pius XII gave Hitler the green light for the final solution and the West welcomed the Holocaust to get rid of Central and East European Jewry for fear both of Zionism and of Communism and for diverting the German war effort.


Flowers in the Blood
by Gay Courter

Signet-Penguin USA
August 1991 633 pp Price: US$5.99

In October 1858, Leah Judah, a member of Calcutta’s tightly-knit, Arabic-speaking, Baghdadi Jewish community, was murdered by a jealous suitor. Heskel Shurbani and Nissim Gubbay were arrested for the murder. This best-selling novel is based on the memoir of Leah’s daughter that came to light after her death.

The book is interspersed with Judeo-Arabic words and expressions such as:

infaqsit ayn elraa (may the evil eye be destroyed)
Khull el Kaskeen yeksegh qerrabetu (strong vinegar breaks its jar)
Kilililileesh (ululation)
deqqaqa (drummer)
Taghqa (fright)
abdaluk (“beloved”)
Khadhba (applicartion of henna)
mashti (inspector of virginity on wedding night)
byadh-el-wetch (the honourable proof of it)

The book also abounds in familiar names: Musa Chachag, Nissim Sadqa, Hakham Shlomo Twena, Isaac Shuker, Shmuel Mussliyah.

Shalom Aaron Cohen, who came from Aleppo in 1798, is considered the founder of Calcutta’s Jewish community. Soon afterwards, the Sassoons and other Jewish settlers began to flood into India, mainly from Baghdad, fleeing from the harsh rule of Daud Pasha in the early 1800’s. David Sassoon managed to escape after he was arrested by Daud Pasha who supported his rival Ezra (Rahamim).

India, a land of many religions, welcomed the Jews. Here they could live in perfect freedom. To correct a trade imbalance with China, opium began to be exported in large quantities to the Chinese who used it as a cure for many ills. This “flower trade” brought about a boom and created immense riches as prices remained lucrative because Chinese rulers refused to legalise opium – the same situation that prevails nowadays in the West.

This well-researched novel depicts in rich detail the culture and customs of Baghdadi Jews living in Calcutta. It tells the sweeping tale of Dinah Sassoon’s extraordinary quest for love and justice.

Gay Courter is the author of three other best-selling novels: The Midwife, River of Dreams and Code: Ezra.

Taken from a previous issue: The Scribe, No. 52 – January 1992


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