As 1930s Europe moved toward the catastrophe of World War II, much of the greater part of the continent was – for Jews – being turned into a giant concentration camp. Bernard Wasserstein’s On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War, captures the sorrows and glories of European Jewry in the decades leading up the Nazi genocide.

From the shtetls of Lithuania to the salons of Vienna, Jewish culture was on the road to extinction. Wasserstein’s book proves that, contrary to received wisdom, there was a growing awareness that Jews were approaching what the writer Joseph Roth once called “a great catastrophe.”

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