On a winter's day in 1943, 21-year-old Latvian Mischka Danos chanced on a terrible sight - a pit filled with the bodies of Jews killed by the occupying Germans. In order to escape conscription to the Waffen-SS - the authors of such atrocities - Mischka volunteered to go on a student exchange to Germany. He did not then know that he was part Jewish. Whilst in Germany, he narrowly escaped death in the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden. Surviving Hitler's Reich, he became a displaced person in occupied Germany, where in 1951 he earned a PhD at the exceptional Heidelberg Physics Institute. In the 1950s Mischka was sponsored as an immigrant to the US by a Jewish survivor whom his mother, Olga, had saved during Riga's worst period of Jewish arrests. As refugee experiences go, Mischka was among the lucky ones - but even luck leaves scars. The author Sheila Fitzpatrick, who met and married Mischka forty years after these events, turns her skills as a historian and wry eye as a memoirist to telling the remarkable story of Mischka's odyssey and survival.
A Times/Sunday Times Book of the Year 'Powerful . . . there is rage in his ink. McKay's book grips by its passion and originality. Some 25,000 people perished in the firestorm that raged through the city. I have never seen it better described' Max Hastings, Sunday Times In February 1945 the Allies obliterated Dresden, the 'Florence of the Elbe'. Explosive bombs weighing over 1,000 lbs fell every seven and a half seconds and an estimated 25,000 people were killed. Was Dresden a legitimate military target or was the bombing a last act of atavistic mass murder in a war already won? From the history of the city to the attack itself, conveyed in a minute-by-minute account from the first of the flares to the flames reaching almost a mile high - the wind so searingly hot that the lungs of those in its path were instantly scorched - through the eerie period of reconstruction, bestselling author Sinclair McKay creates a vast canvas and brings it alive with touching human detail. Along the way we encounter, among many others across the city, a Jewish woman who thought the English bombs had been sent from heaven, novelist Kurt Vonnegut who wrote that the smouldering landscape was like walking on the surface of the moon, and 15-year-old Winfried Bielss, who, having spent the evening ushering refugees, wanted to get home to his stamp collection. He was not to know that there was not enough time. Impeccably researched and deeply moving, McKay uses never-before-seen sources to relate the untold stories of civilians and vividly conveys the texture of contemporary life. Dresden is invoked as a byword for the illimitable cruelties of war, but with the distance of time, it is now possible to approach this subject with a much clearer gaze, and with a keener interest in the sorts of lives that ordinary people lived and lost, or tried to rebuild. Writing with warmth and colour about morality in war, the instinct for survival, the gravity of mass destruction and the manipulation of memory, this is a master historian at work. 'Churchill said that if bombing cities was justified, it was always repugnant. Sinclair McKay has written a shrewd, humane and balanced account of this most controversial target of the Anglo-American strategic bombing campaign, the ferocious consequence of the scourge of Nazism' Allan Mallinson, author of Fight to the Finish 'Beautifully-crafted, elegiac, compelling - Dresden delivers with a dark intensity and incisive compassion rarely equalled. Authentic and authoritative, a masterpiece of its genre' Damien Lewis, author of Zero Six Bravo 'Compelling . . . Sinclair McKay brings a dark subject vividly to life' Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent 'This is a brilliantly clear, and fair, account of one of the most notorious and destructive raids in the history aerial warfare. From planning to execution, the story is told by crucial participants - and the victims who suffered so cruelly on the ground from the attack itself and its aftermath' Robert Fox, author of We Were There
Tracking the degeneration of the Russian Revolution Red Flag Wounded brings together essays covering the controversies and debates over the fraught history of the Soviet Union from the revolution to its disintegration. Those monumental years were marked not only by violence, mass killing, and the brutal overturning of a peasant society but also by the modernisation and industrialisation of the largest country in the world, the victory over fascism, and the slow recovery of society after the nightmare of Stalinism. Ronald Grigor Suny is one of the most prominent experts on the revolution, the fate of the non-Russian peoples of the Soviet empire, and the twists and turns of Western historiography of the Soviet experience. As a biographer of Stalin and a long-time commentator on Russian and Soviet affairs, he brings novel insights to a history that has been misunderstood and deliberately distorted in the public sphere. For a fresh look at a story that affects our world today, this is the place to begin.
Including contributions from leading scholars in the field from both Australia and North America, this collection explores diverse approaches to writing the lives of historians and ways of assessing the importance of doing so. Beginning with the writing of autobiographies by historians, the volume then turns to biographical studies, both of historians whose writings were in some sense nation-defining and those who may be regarded as having had a major influence on defining the discipline of history. The final section explores elements of collective biography, linking these to the formation of historical networks. A concluding essay by Barbara Caine offers a critical appraisal of the study of historians’ biographies and autobiographies to date, and maps out likely new directions for future work. Clio’s Lives is a very good scholarly collection that advances the study of autobiography and biography within the writing of history itself, taking theoretical questions in significant new directions. The contributors are well known and highly respected in the history profession and write with an insight and intellectual energy that will ensure the book has considerable impact. They examine cutting-edge issues about the writing of history at the personal level through autobiography and biography in diverse and innovative ways. Together the writers have provided reflective chapters that will be widely read for their impressive theoretical advances as well as being inspirational for new entrants to the disciplinary area. — Patricia Grimshaw, University of Melbourne Clio’s Lives brings together a most interesting and varied cast of contributors. Its chapters contain sophisticated and well-penned ruminations on the uses of biography and autobiography among historians. These are clearly connected with the general themes of the volume. This delightfully mixed bag makes very good reading and, as well, will serve as a substantial contribution to the study of the biography and autobiography. — Eric Richards, Flinders University
This book is a biographical study of the geographer/explorer and banker Francis Rodd, the second Lord Rennell of Rodd (1895-1978). Rodd’s life is interesting for the way it connected the worlds of geography, international finance, politics, espionage, and wartime military administration. He was famous in the 1920s for his journeys to the Sahara and his study of the Tuareg, People of the Veil (1926). A career in banking included a stint at the Bank of England, before he became a Partner in the merchant bank Morgan Grenfell—where remained for most of his working life (1933-1961). During the war he worked for the Ministry of Economic Warfare (1939=40), before getting closely involved in the sphere of military government (civil affairs). In 1942, he was War Office’s Chief Political Officer in East Africa. He was then appointed head of the first Allied Military Government in occupied Europe (Chief Civil Affairs Officer of AMGOT). In civil affairs, he was drawn to the principles of indirect rule. A generalist in an age of growing specialisation, he was also a mixture of traditionalist and moderniser. A product of Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, and elevated to the peerage in 1941, he was well-connected socially, and his life is a window onto British society at a time of great change.
Over 20,000 ethnic Russians migrated to Australia after World War II – yet we know very little about their experiences. Some came via China, others from refugee camps in Europe. Many preferred to keep a low profile in Australia, and some attempted to ‘pass’ as Polish, West Ukrainian or Yugoslavian. They had good reason to do so: to the Soviet Union, Australia’s resettling of Russians amounted to the theft of its citizens, and undercover agents were deployed to persuade them to repatriate. Australia regarded the newcomers with wary suspicion, even as it sought to build its population by opening its door to more immigrants. Making extensive use of newly discovered Russian-language archives and drawing on a lifetime’s study of Soviet history and politics, award-winning author Sheila Fitzpatrick examines the early years of a diverse and disunited Russian-Australian community and how Australian and Soviet intelligence agencies attempted to track and influence them. While anti-Communist ‘White’ Russians dreamed a war of liberation would overthrow the Soviet regime, a dissident minority admired its achievements and thought of returning home.
The transnationalism of ordinary lives threatens the stability of national identity and unsettles the framework of national histories and biography. This book takes mobility, not nation, as its frame, and captures a rich array of lives, from the elite to the subaltern, that have crossed national, racial and cartographic boundaries.
This book revisits Australian histories of refugee arrivals and settlement – with a particular focus on family and family life. It brings together new empirical research, and methodologies in memory and oral history, to offer multilayered histories of people seeking refuge in the 20th century. Engaging with histories of refugees and ‘family’, and how these histories intersect with aspects of memory studies — including oral history, public storytelling, family history, and museum exhibitions and objects — the book moves away from a focus on individual adults and towards multilayered and rich histories of groups with a variety of intersectional affiliations. The contributions consider the conflicting layers of meaning built up around racialised and de-racialised refugee groups throughout the 20th century, and their relationship to structural inequalities, their shifting socio-economic positions, and the changing racial and religious categories of inclusion and exclusion employed by dominant institutions. As the contributors to this book suggest, ‘family’ functions as a means to revisit or research histories of mobility and refuge. This focus on ‘family’ illuminates intimate aspects of a history and the emotions it contains and enables – complicating the passive victim stereotype often applied to refugees. As interest in refugee ‘integration’ continues to rise as a result of increasingly vociferous identity politics and rising right-wing rhetoric, this book offers readers new insights into the intersections between family and memory, and the potential avenues this might open up for considering refugee studies in a more intimate way. This book was originally published as a special issue of Immigrants & Minorities.
Betty O’Neill grew up knowing very little about her father, Antoni. She knew that he had fled Poland after World War Two, that he had disappeared overnight when she was just an infant, and that his brief reappearance when she was a young adult had been a harrowing, painful ordeal. Fifty-five years after he deserted her family, Betty is determined to find out more. What drove him to abandon them, twice? What was his story? Who was Antoni Jagielski? Her search for truth takes Betty to Poland, where she unexpectedly inherits a family apartment from the half sister she never knew – a time capsule of her father’s life. Sifting through photos and letters she begins to piece together a picture of her father as a Polish resistance fighter, a survivor of Auschwitz and Gusen concentration camps, an exile in post-war England, and a migrant to Australia. But the deeper she searches, the darker the revelations about her father become, as Betty is faced with disturbing truths buried within her family. Honest, compelling, and meticulously researched, The Other Side of Absence is an elegant debut memoir of resilience and strength, and of a daughter reconciling the damage that families inherit from war.
The Russian Revolution had a decisive impact on the history of the twentieth century. In the years following the collapse of the Soviet regime and the opening of its archives, it has become possible to step back and see the full picture. Starting with an overview of the roots of the revolution, Fitzpatrick takes the story from 1917, through Stalin's 'revolution from above', to the great purges of the 1930s. She tells a gripping story of a Marxist revolution that was intended to transform the world, visited enormous suffering on the Russian people, and, like the French Revolution before it, ended up by devouring its own children. This updated edition contains a fully revised bibliography and updated introduction to address the centenary, what does it all mean in retrospect.