The “unknown and fascinating story of the unsung angels who strove to foil the Final Solution” from the New York Times–bestselling author (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
On November 25, 1944, the crematoria and gas chambers at Auschwitz—part of the largest killing machine in human history—came crashing down. However, the Final Solution’s most efficient murder apparatus had not been felled by Jewish inmates in an act of sabotage, but rather by the ruthless architect of mass genocide, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. It was an edict that has puzzled historians for more than six decades.
Holocaust historian Max Wallace—a veteran interviewer for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation—draws on an explosive cache of recently declassified documents and an account from the only living eyewitness to unravel the mystery. He uncovers an astounding story involving the secret negotiations of an unlikely trio—a former fascist president of Switzerland, a courageous Orthodox Jewish woman, and Himmler’s Finnish osteopath—to end the Holocaust, aided by clandestine Swedish and American intelligence efforts. He documents their efforts to deceive Himmler, who, as Germany’s defeat loomed, sought to enter an alliance with the West against the Soviet Union. By exploiting that fantasy and persuading Himmler to betray Hitler’s orders, the group helped to prevent the extermination of tens of thousands of Jews during the last months of the Second World War, and thwarted Hitler’s plan to take “every last Jew” down with the Reich.
Shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, “this fascinating, largely untold account shows how an unlikely confluence of people and events saved the lives of a remnant of surviving European Jews” (Booklist).