Rescued from the Reich

How One of Hitler’s Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Bryan Mark Rigg; Foreword by Paula E. Hyman

View Inside Price: $40.00


October 11, 2004
304 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
50 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300104486
Cloth

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When Hitler invaded Warsaw in the fall of 1939, hundreds of thousands of civilians—many of them Jewish—were trapped in the besieged city. The Rebbe Joseph Schneersohn, the leader of the ultra-orthodox Lubavitcher Jews, was among them. Followers throughout the world were filled with anguish, unable to confirm whether he was alive or dead. Working with officials in the United States government, a group of American Jews initiated what would ultimately become one of the strangest—and most miraculous—rescues of World War II.

The escape of Rebbe Schneersohn from Warsaw has been the subject of speculation for decades. Historian Bryan Mark Rigg has now uncovered the true story of the rescue, which was propelled by a secret collaboration between American officials and leaders of German military intelligence. Amid the fog of war, a small group of dedicated German soldiers located the Rebbe and protected him from suspicious Nazis as they fled the city together. During the course of the mission, the Rebbe learned the shocking truth about the leader of the rescue operation, the decorated Wehrmacht soldier Ernst Bloch: he was himself half-Jewish, and a victim of the rising tide of German antisemitism.

A harrowing story about identity and moral responsibility, Rescued from the Reich is also a riveting narrative history of one of the most extraordinary rescue missions of World War II.

Bryan Mark Rigg teaches history at American Military University and Southern Methodist University. His previous book, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military won the prestigious Colby Award from the William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium. His work has been featured on programs including NBC Dateline and Fox News. Rigg served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army and as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps, and he currently lives in Dallas, Texas.

Visit the author's website at http://www.bryanrigg.com target="_blank">bryanrigg.com.

"Rescued from the Reich is a first-rate piece of detective work. Bryan Rigg recounts in vivid detail the moral complexity of Rebbe Schneersohn’s rescue from the Nazis. An excellent book."—Alexander B. Rossino, author of Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and Atrocity        

“Rigg tells an astonishing story, one filled with drama, surprise, and human interest at every turn. Early in World War II, one of Hitler’s 'Jewish' soldiers, secretly acting under the direction of head of the German Military Secret Service, sought and won the trust of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in hiding in German occupied Poland. Under the noses of the Gestapo, the soldier spirited the Jewish sect’s 'Pope' and his large party through Poland and Germany onto Latvia where they would fly to Sweden to board a ship that would carry him and his large party to safety of the United States. An extraordinary story and a great read!”—Colonel James L. Abrahamson, United States Army War College

“A penetrating account of an unknown, fascinating tale of intrigue—the near impossible rescue of a great spiritual leader from Nazi-controlled Poland. Rescued from the Reich is suspenseful, authoritative and well written.”—David Kranzler, emeritus professor of history at the City University of New York and author of Thy Brother’s Blood: The Orthodox Jewish Response During the Holocaust

"Rigg shows how political lobbying, bureaucratic opportunism, and the vagaries of Nazi administrative and racial policies enabled the Rebbe’s rescue from wartime Poland. A bizarre story, well told."—Donald L. Niewyk, Southern Methodist University       

“I had the privilege to read Bryan Mark Rigg’s manuscript on the rescue of the Rabbi of Lubavitch. Familiarizing himself with a tradition to which he is a stranger and to sift through a literature which is esoteric and presents conflicting accounts was not an easy task. Professor Rigg, however, succeeded in presenting an honest, thoroughly researched and readable account. It is a fascinating book which not only sheds light on a chapter of Lubavitch Hasidism but also adds to our knowledge of the tragic period of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Professor Rigg proved again that he is an excellent historian and a skillful writer.”—Dr. Bernard Klein, Professor and Chairman Department of History, Community Comunity College, City University of New York

"In Rescued from the Reich, Professor Rigg explains the miraculous rescue of one of the world’s most dynamic and influential rabbis. Combining historical analysis and investigative journalism, Rigg explores the mechanics of the German, Russian and American political intrigue during World War II. The extent of diplomacy, political machinations and cooperation between warring nations during one of the most calamitous periods of history—in order to save the life of a rabbi—is astounding."—Dr. M. Avrum Ehrlich of Clare Hall, Cambridge University

"Very well researched. Without Bryan Rigg’s unfailing perseverance the entire story would have been lost."—Dr. Martin Bloch (son of Ernst Bloch)

"A fascinating, well-researched book involving Hasidic history and the Holocaust. Bryan Rigg brings to life an important episode of Jewish survival and rescue that has too long remained obscure."—Edward Hoffman, Ph.D, author The Hebrew Alphabet: A Mystical Journey

“This intriguing study explains how in 1939-40 a small group of Jewish-Americans joined US diplomats, politicians, and judicial officials to persuade officers of the German Abwehr to spirit the Hassidic Rabbi Joseph Schneersohn out of Nazi-occupied Poland. Rigg’s innovative research reveals astonishing inconsistencies in the conduct of American foreign policy, deepens the mysteries surrounding the incongruous behavior of Hitler’s spymaster, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and raises troubling questions about the subsequent reluctance of Jewish organizations, most notably Schneersohn and his Lubavitchers, to agitate for the rescue of their coreligionists in Hitler’s Europe.”—Evan Bukey, University of Arkansas

“Bryan Rigg offers us an exciting and intriguing episode of WWII Jewish history. The story of the rescue of the Lubavitch library challenges us to probe deeply-held values and beliefs. His book is fascinating and engrossing—a wonderful addition to the literature."—Kenneth D. Roseman, Ph.D., Rabbi, Temple Beth El, Corpus Christi, TX,and formerly, Adjunct member of the history department and lecturer in Jewish history and religion at Southern Methodist University

“The pious will surely see in the Lubabitcher Rebbe’s rescue the hand of God, and view the German emissaries who rescued him, led by a man of mixed Jewish ancestry, as angels masquerading as devils. But historian Bryan Rigg has a very different story to tell—part detective story, part mystery. It is a story of diplomacy and intelligence work, suspicions and mortal danger, soldiers and civilians mobilized to rescue one prominent Jew and his family from the heart of German-occupied Warsaw in the midst of the Holocaust.”—Michael Berenbaum, Professor of Theology The University of Judaism

“Rigg is a master story teller and he is able to convey seamlessly the complexities involved in snatching the Rebbe from the jaws of the Nazis. The most impressive aspect of this assiduously researched book is the author’s obvious commitment to documenting the true facts of the rescue mission."—Milton Kramer, President of Chabad’s National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education

"Bryan Mark Rigg’s book is well-researched, unfailingly interesting, and lucidly written. It is remarkable that someone from outside Chabad has been able to write an inside story of Lubavitch—and to do it so well."—Professor Henry L. Feingold, author of The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945

"For many years, the rescue of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was shrouded in mystery. Bryan Mark Rigg has uncovered the truth of this miracle and revealed to us who the mysterious savior of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was. He has provided us with a fascinating account of events; we are indebted to Bryan Mark Rigg for this historic achievement."—Rabbi Chaskel O. Besser, Chairman for Poland and Ukraine of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation

"A thrilling tale of the rescue of the Lubavitcher Rebbe as told by a master historian, after many years of great research. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Bryan Rigg for his masterful telling of the rescue of the Lubavitcher Rebbe from Poland in World War II."—Rabbi Dovid Edelman, Dean of Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy

"This volume represents the culmination of painstaking research into previously unexplored source material regarding the rescue of Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson of Lubavitch, who was trapped in Nazi-occupied Warsaw in 1939. It presents the incredible confluence of event and unlikely characters that brought about his escape."—Rabbi Moshe Kolodny, Director of the Agudath Israel Archives of America

“Rigg’s meticulously researched account of the wartime rescue of a Hassidic rabbi by German officers, working secretly with U.S. intelligence, is a revealing look at the intricacies of diplomatic maneuverings and the complex, sometimes contradictory motivations of human actors. He treats American Jewry’s failure to save more of their European brethren with the same care he uses to outline the cracks in the Nazi military machine that permitted men of conscience to act righteously, albeit at great personal risk.”—Sue Fishkoff, author of The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch

“[A] riveting book. . . . Rescued from the Reich is one fascinating read. It is a valuable contribution to Holocaust and Chabad-Lubavitcher history. Recommended for all adult Jewish libraries.”—Hallie Cantor, Association of Jewish Libraries

“This true story of escape from the Nazis has all the elements of modern fiction.”—Harriet P. Gross, Dallas Morning News

Rescued from the Reich reads like a spy/suspense novel, but it is actual history, the amazing story of how the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his court were rescued from Nazi Germany.”—Micah D. Halpern, Jewish Book World

"[Rigg] draws on newly uncovered German sources to reconstruct the astounding escape of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, from wartorn Europe... the details he has provided are riveting."---Miriam Shaviv, Jewish Chronicle

“Recommended for all libraries.”—Library Journal

“This is great material—the stuff of Hollywood films—and historian Rigg makes the most of it. Writing in a clean, dramatic voice but with strict historical accuracy and nuanced analysis. . . . This is a well-written and vital addition to the literature of Holocaust survivor studies.”—Publishers Weekly

"Rigg has uncovered the true story of the rescue and of the secret collaboration between American officials and German military intelligence that made it possible. Rigg. . .makes vivid the treacherous journey to safety and the heroism and moral weaknesses of the participants. . ."—Queens Gazette

"Rigg has uncovered the true story of the rescue and of the secret collaboration between American officials and German military intelligence that made it possible."—Queens Tribune

“Reads like an investigative piece—but it’s an academic work. . . . Rescued from the Reich reads like a fast-paced mystery, not like a dry history.”—Susan Braden, Shore Line Times

“Rigg definitely accomplishes the feat of capturing the audience from the beginning and keeping them intrigued through this well written and researched book. . . . This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone interested in Jewish Nazis, Holocaust history, or even just looking for an intriguing and spell-bounding story.”—Levi Margolin, Southeastern Virginia Jewish News

“Just when you thought the Second World War had no more secrets, along comes a book that blows a crater in the ramparts of received opinion.”—Norman Lebrecht, The Evening Standard

“[Rigg’s book] is the stuff that immortal plays are made of.”—The Evening Standard

“Rigg is not only a truly great historian, but a storyteller of truly engrossing proportions. He deploys a fluid narrative that is both fascinating and illuminating. His work captures not only the drama and tenor of those dangerous times, but the essential meanings behind the events as they unfurled. . . . It is truly an inspiring work of art.”—The Jewish Press

“This is an extraordinary tale of an extraordinary rescue mission.”—The Jewish Tribune

“An Astonishing Rescue.”—Washington Post

"After a half century of conjecture, this book clarifies the events, personalities, and motives that led to the rescue of the Lubavitch rebbe Joseph Schneersohn from Poland during the early months of World War II." —Joseph W. Bendersky, Journal of American History

"Mark Rigg has written a remarkable saga about the rescue of Joseph Isaac Scheneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. . . . More than 40 pages of notes, an extensive bibliography, and a lengthy list of interviews document Rigg's diligence in gathering data for his book. Moreover, he writes well so that he has produced a very readable account of what was a suspense-laden tale that often teetered on the brink of an unhappy ending. The saving of Lubavitcher Rebbe has all the necessary ingredients for a powerful movie that would undoubtedly grip a large audience."—Morton I. Teicher, Broward Jewish Journal