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The Bugs are Burning

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The Bugs are Burning

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The Bugs are Burning
The Role of Eastern Europeans in the Exploitation, Subjugation and Murder of Their Jewish Neighbors During the Holocaust
By Dr. Sheldon Hersh and Dr. Robert Wolf
Devora Publishing (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-934-440-39-1

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - October 12, 2009

The history of the Holocaust is the story of calumny, inhumanity, and homicidal fury. It is also a story about courage, hope, and faith. Drs. Sheldon Hersh and Robert Wolf's new book, The Bugs are Burning focuses on one of the more sinister chapters in this chilling history. As such, this book provides a look at the role that many Eastern Europeans played in the destruction of their Jewish neighbors, and serves as a solid introduction of contemptible actions of far too many non-German Eastern Europeans during and after the Holocaust.

The support and collusion of these Eastern Europeans greatly aided Hitler's efforts to exterminate Eastern Europe's Jews. As the book shows, some of these Eastern Europeans helped the Nazis because they believed in the Nazi philosophy, and many more assisted in a bid to gain Jews' property and wealth or to simply 'rid' themselves of competitors or neighbors they did not like. Their assistance was also fueled by long ingrained antisemitism that has, and still does, permeate much of Eastern Europe. This is not to say that all Eastern Europeans aided the Nazis, in fact many risked their lives to save countless Jews and many fought bravely in the resistance and worked hard to repulse the Nazi invasion of their homelands. These efforts have been recorded in many fine books. However, what has been largely ignored is the history of those that aided the Nazis in the exploitation and murder of their Jewish neighbors. The Bugs are Burning sets the record straight.

Within the pages of The Bugs are Burning, the authors delineate why so many Eastern Europeans colluded with the Nazis to eliminate their Jewish neighbors and how their actions were perceived by their comrades who were not actively supporting the Nazis. After providing a general overview of the atmosphere in Eastern Europe at the time the Nazis invaded, the authors then proceed onto a nation by nation analysis of the how the 'locals' acted when given free reign by the Nazis to terrorize their Jewish neighbors, and detailing some of the many atrocities that occurred. The countries covered are, Lithuania, Latvia, the Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia, and Poland.

From these sordid overviews, the authors tackle some of the more repugnant, but largely ignored aspects of the Eastern European Holocaust, such as the popular pastime of Jew Hunting, and how even after the war ended, Eastern Europeans' continued persecuting Jews, including many survivors who were slaughtered upon returning home by their 'neighbors' who did not want to return properly that they had stolen from Jews during the war. The authors also look at how historians have slanted the truth in order to paint various regions and their peoples in a positive light, ignoring the atrocities that had been committed during the Holocaust. The book concludes with several charts detailing the 'numbers' associated with the slaughter of millions of Eastern European Jews.

Filled with graphic and heart-wrenching photographs, this is a hard book to not only read, but to simply look through. However, it is an important addition to the body of work on the History of the Holocaust and it should be read by all, both Jews and non-Jews alike who want to learn about this under-documented aspect of the Holocaust. Building upon the foundation laid in The Bugs are Burning, interested individuals will find the book's bibliography will guide them on their quest to learn more about this tragic chapter in Jewish history.

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