Between Dignity and Despair, a book written by Marion A. Kaplan, published in 1998, gives us a portrait of Jewish life in Nazi Germany by the astounding memoirs, diaries, interviews with survivors, and letters of Jewish women and men. The book is written in chronological order of events, from the daily life of German Jewish families prior to when the Holocaust began to the days when rights were completely taken away; from the beginning of forced labor and exile to the repercussion of the war. Kaplan tries to include details from each significant event during the time of the Holocaust. Kaplan tells us the story of Jews in Germany not from the perception of the Holocaust, but by focusing on the persecutors from the confused and vague viewpoint of Jews trying to direct their lives on a day to day basis in a world that was becoming more and more insane. Kaplan shows us that the Holocaust was impossible to predict exactly because Nazi oppression occurred in random and impulsive steps until the massive violence of November 1938. Between Dignity and Despair focuses on the destiny of families and mostly women’s experience, taking the reader into neighborhoods, kitchens, shops, schools and it gives us form and consistency. It is giving us the exact impression of what life was like to be a Jew in Nazi Germany, except we are sitting behind the book taking it all in.
In the introduction, Kaplan explains how life was for German Jews before the start of the Nazi rule. She gives details about how most Jews adapted passionately to the social, political or cultural styles, in order to proclaim their German patriotism (12), later they began to ignore this when Nazi actions started taking place. Kaplan then talks about how Jews experienced ostracism through the examples of the boycott of Jewish possessions in April of 1933, which was a