A Summer of Mass Murder
1941 Rehearsal for the Hungarian Holocaust
408 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 36 Illustrations
Most accounts of the Holocaust focus on trainloads of prisoners speeding toward Auschwitz, with its chimneys belching smoke and flames, in the summer of 1944. This book provides a hitherto untold chapter of the Holocaust by exploring a prequel to the gas chambers: the face-to-face mass murder of Jews in Galicia by bullets.
The summer of 1941 ushered in a chain of events that had no precedent in the rapidly unfolding history of World War II and the Holocaust. In six weeks, more than twenty thousand Hungarian Jews were forcefully deported to Galicia and summarily executed. In exploring the fate of these Hungarian Jews and their local coreligionists, A Summer of Mass Murder transcends conventional history by introducing a multitude of layers of politics, culture, and, above all, psychology—for both the victims and the executioners.
The narrative presents an uncharted territory in Holocaust scholarship with extensive archival research, interviews, and corresponding literature across countries and languages, incorporating many previously unexplored documents and testimonies. Eisen reflects upon the voices of the victims, the images of the perpetrators, whose motivation for murder remains inexplicable. In addition, the author incorporates the long-forgotten testimonies of bystander contemporaries, who unwittingly became part of the unfolding nightmare and recorded the horror in simple words.
This book also serves as a personal journey of discovery. Among the twenty thousand people killed was the tale of two brothers, the author’s uncles. In retracing their final fate and how they were swept up in the looming genocide, A Summer of Mass Murder also gives voice to their story.
The Main Characters: Survivors, Witnesses, Rescuers, Perpetrators
1. Prologue: A Primer to the Holocaust
2. The Ostjuden: The Galicianer in the Hungarian Imagination
3. Galicia: An Exile into the Unknown
4. Kamenets-Podolsk: The Anatomy of a Massacre
5. Galicia 1941 – 1942: The Delirium of Murder
6. Weapon of War: Rape and Sexual Violence
7. Return from the Abyss: Rescue and Survival
8. Opening Old Wounds: Responsibility and Consequences
9. Requiem for a Deportation: Unanswered Questions
Epilogue: Looking for Closure
"Eisen's book is important for understanding the Holocaust in its process and context, as well as for scientific exploration. The book features riveting, never-before-seen or published images Eisen collected from the period. These illustrations are so powerful in visualizing, presenting, and symbolizing the topic that alone for those the book is worth to look at. A Summer of Mass Murder also provides the human dimension of personal experiences in the face of genocide, which often is missing from major historical works." —Eastern European Holocaust Studies
"In his new book, A Summer of Mass Murder, George Eisen makes audible 'a silent history with many unheard voices.' His examination of what he argues is the rehearsal for the Hungarian Holocaust of 1944 is the story of the mass deportation of Jews from Hungary to the region of Galicia—to the town of Kamianets-Podilskyi in Podilia, just across the border from Galicia—and the murder of some 23,600 of them in the summer and fall of 1941. The deportation and murder was the initiative of Hungarians to rid their state at an opportune moment of undesired foreigners, stateless refugees, or 'alien' Jews, as well as Christian family members from mixed marriages and even a few 'troublesome' Ukrainians—approximately two-thirds of whom came from Transcarpathia and Northern Transylvania. This rehearsal set the stage for what we now refer to as the Holocaust. This history for Eisen is both a scholarly one and a personal one. Throughout this fascinating book he weaves in the stories of his own family members." —John C. Swanson, Guerry Professor of History, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
"This is much more than just the moving story of the deportation and mass murder of twenty thousand Hungarian Jews in the summer of 1941. George Eisen's research is an eye-opener, providing the reader with a key to understanding the intricate mechanism that made the Holocaust possible." —Moshe Zimmerman, Professor Emeritus, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
"American historian and political scientist George Eisen, a multi-lingual scholar, was able to draw on numerous archives in Hungary, Poland, the United States, Germany, and Israel for his research. Testimonies from witnesses and reports from survivors give a voice to the victims. The analysis of Hungarian secondary literature is also particularly valuable. Because many comprehensive accounts of the history of the Holocaust, including German ones, do not include the summer of mass murders in western Ukraine, which clearly served as a "rehearsal," a trial run for the genocide, it would be desirable for the book, which includes numerous remarkable photos, to be translated into many languages especially in German and help fill this gap in the German-speaking world." —Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft