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Spotlight on John A.S. Grenville

In September, Routledge had the great privilege of publishing the late John A.S. Grenville's book, The Jews and Germans of Hamburg: The Destruction of a Civilization 1790-1945. Read our tribute to him and find out more about his book here...

'The general conclusion I have reached after decades of research is that civilization is too easily taken for granted when we enjoy its benefits. It is in reality fragile, not just as it was in Germany during the 1930s, but anywhere at any time.’ – John A.S. Grenville

The Jews and Germans of Hamburg is an extraordinary account of the history of the Jewish and German-Jewish community of Hamburg by one of the leading historians of the twentieth century.

Berlin-born and himself a victim of the Nazi persecution – his mother perished in a concentration camp and he was one of the 10,000 Jewish children that fled into Britain via the Kindertransport in 1938-39 – John A.S. Grenville made significant contributions to the developments of modern European and Jewish history throughout his long academic career.

His last work is clearly his magnum opus; based on more than thirty years of archival research, and, published posthumously, the book looks at the history of the Holocaust as completely integrated into the full history of the Jewish community in Hamburg from the late eighteenth century onwards. Here Grenville reveals how smilingly conventional traditions were shattered and a long and well-established German-Jewish community became, within the space of a generation, victim of the Nazi Holocaust. As well as looking at the micro-history of Hamburg, the author also tells the tale of those whose lives were forever changed by the Nazi persecution; drawing from archival sources, he intersperses the book with personal stories giving to his narrative a more personal and human dimension.

He extends the discussion to present Hamburg as a case study in the wider world and ultimately shows how any society can easily lapse into barbarism.

John A.S. Grenville died on 7th March 2011, aged 83. He was Professor of Modern History, Emeritus at the University of Birmingham, UK. He was also the author of a number of books, including Europe Reshaped, 1848-1878 and The History of the World from the 20th to 21st Centuries, and he was co-editor of The Major International Treaties of the Twentieth Century: A History and Guide with Texts.

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  1. The Jews and Germans of Hamburg

    The Destruction of a Civilization 1790-1945

    By J A S Grenville

    Based on more than thirty years archival research, this history of the Jewish and German-Jewish community of Hamburg is a unique and vivid piece of work by one of the leading historians of the twentieth century. The history of the Holocaust here is fully integrated into the full history of the...

    Published September 1st 2011 by Routledge