David Cesarani

David Cesarani OBE (13 November 1956 – 25 October 2015) was an English historian who specialised in Jewish history, especially the Holocaust.[1] He also wrote several biographies, including Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind (1998).[1]

David Cesarani
Born13 November 1956
Died25 October 2015 (aged 58)
AwardsOrder of the British Empire
Academic background
EducationLatymer Upper School
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Columbia University
University of Oxford
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Leeds
Queen Mary University of London
Wiener Library
Main interestsJewish history

Early life and education

Cesarani was born in London to Henry, a hairdresser, and Sylvia (née Packman). An only child, he won a scholarship to Latymer Upper School in west London and went to Queens' College, Cambridge, in 1976, where he gained a first in history. A master’s degree in Jewish history at Columbia University, New York, working with the scholar of Judaism Arthur Hertzberg, shaped the rest of his career. His doctorate at St Antony's College, Oxford, looked into aspects of the history of the interwar Anglo-Jewish community.

Before he started his degree at Cambridge, Cesarani spent a gap year in Israel which involved working at a kibbutz. His involvement in Zionism was to be accompanied by nagging doubts that arose from this period, where he noted local Arabs were not accorded respect. He recalled the shock he felt on discovering that the kibbutzniks had not been forthcoming about the history of the fields where he worked, near Qaqun.[2] "We were always told that the pile of rubble at the top of the hill was a Crusader castle. It was only much later that I discovered it was an Arab village that had been ruined in the Six-Day war."[3][4][5][6]

Academic career

Cesarani held positions at the University of Leeds, Queen Mary University of London and at the Wiener Library in London, where he was director for two periods in the 1990s. He was Professor of Modern Jewish history at the University of Southampton from 2000 to 2004, and Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, from 2004 until his death.[7] Here he helped establish and direct the Holocaust Research Centre.

The Arendt affair

In 2005, he published a biography of SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann; titled Eichmann: His Life and Crimes, it featured hitherto unused primary source material. The book has been noted in particular for its evaluation of Hannah Arendt's account of Eichmann's arrest, trial and sentence.[5] In a review for the Daily Telegraph, British historian Ian Kershaw wrote that "a central purpose of Cesarani's penetrating and compelling study is to show how wrong Arendt's influential interpretation of Eichmann was, and how misleading the phrase 'banality of evil' has proved." A key charge of Cesarani was that Arendt's account of Eichmann's trial was hindered by prejudice towards the Eastern European Jewish background of the prosecutor, Gideon Hausner.

Kershaw commended Cesarani's "expert guidance through the web of lies, deceit, and contradictions built into Eichmann's various tendentious accounts of his life and career. He hammers home the message that, far from being merely an industrious underling dispassionately implementing orders, Eichmann was a convinced anti-Semitic ideologue in a key position where he himself could initiate action and make things happen." He described Cesarani's "revision of Arendt's interpretation" of Eichmann as "an unideological bureaucrat diligently doing his job, the archetypal middle-manager on the lookout for career advancement, but otherwise without motive – 'the classic desk-killer who mechanically and thoughtlessly arranged for millions to die as the culmination of a routinised and sanitised process or destruction'" as "surely correct".[8]

Criticising an influential and much-admired writer as Hannah Arendt raised controversy. An editor of The New York Times Book Review, Barry Gewen, while praising the "factual density" in Cesarani's book, dismissed what he described as Cesarani's "hostility" to Arendt and even suggested that Cesarani needed to "tear Arendt down to make space for himself." He further said that "Cesarani believes his details add up to a portrait at odds with Arendt's banal bureaucrat, but what is striking is how far his research goes to reinforce her fundamental arguments." He characterised Cesarani's statement, "She had much in common with Eichmann. There were two people in the courtroom who looked up to the German-born judges as the best of Germany and looked down on the prosecutor as a miserable Ostjude: one was Eichmann and the other was Hannah Arendt," as a "slur" which "reveals a writer in control neither of his material nor of himself."[9]

Public activism

Holocaust consciousness

Cesarani was a member of the Home Office' Holocaust Memorial Day Strategic Group and was once Director of the AHRC Parkes Centre, part of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations. He was co-editor of the journal Patterns of Prejudice and the Parkes-Wiener Series of books on Jewish Studies (published by Vallentine-Mitchell). In February 2005, Cesarani was awarded an OBE for "services to Holocaust Education and advising the government with regard to the establishment of Holocaust Memorial Day".[10]

Cesarani campaigned against Holocaust deniers such as David Irving and Fredrick Töben, alongside fellow academic Peter Longerich. With regards to Holocaust denial, he wrote that "the fractional loss of liberty entailed in penalising the expression of neo-Nazi views or Holocaust denial seems a small price to pay compared to what can follow if the far right is shielded all the way into power".[11] Journalist David Guttenplan described Cesarani's position in the wake of the Irving v Lipstadt trial as "more dangerous than anything David Irving has ever said or written."[12]

Israeli–Arab conflict and Zionism

Cesarani believed that Israel's right to exist is unquestionable, and that "[d]enying the right of Israel to exist begs some serious questions."[3] He was strongly critical of academic and business boycotts against Israel in the United Kingdom. However he was also critical of Israeli government policy, conduct and expansionist sentiments.

He was an advisory editor of Engage, a web-based campaign that emerged from opposition to the AUT boycott. In his words Engage was "careful to stress that criticism of Israel's Government or Israeli society is not a priori anti-Semitic. What Engage objects to is the demonisation of Israel, the application of double standards intended to criminalise one state and those who support it, and the unique denial to the Jews of any right to nationhood." Cesarani decried anti-Semitic incidents and expressions in relation to the boycotts in British universities as well as the "apathy" of student bodies such as the National Union of Students. Cesarani concluded "It should not be like this. It is possible to support the Palestinian struggle against the occupation and for a viable state without endorsing the murder of innocents or conspiracy theories about Jews. British universities are a meeting place of different nationalities and ethnic and faith groups. The boycott campaign, anti-Israel motions, double standards and violent rhetoric poison this precious environment."[13]

Cesarani rejected suggestions that incidents such as the attack on a Kosher shop in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015 were a sign of universal anti-Semitism. He wrote that "The current hysteria about the 'rise of anti-semitism' and the flight of Jews from Europe is deeply regrettable. There is no 'wave' of anti-semitism." The basis of his argument was that Jews were not socially or legally isolated "as they were in the 1930s and 1940s, but find themselves enjoying unprecedented solidarity." He further emphasised that Jewish communities "on both sides of the English Channel rallied and continued to thrive" following targeted attacks by Palestinian Arab terrorists in the 1970s and 1980s and wrote that the "current press hyperbole shows not only ignorance about what the situation was like 70–80 years ago, but what it was like just 20–30 years before now."[14] He also attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for "fear mongering" and asserted that Jews, non-Jews and Muslims were standing "shoulder to shoulder" against a common terrorist threat.[15]

He saw the controversy over the Israeli West Bank barrier as being unimportant, and that it is used as a photo opportunity for the world's media. Of the wall itself "it's a concern if land is misappropriated from the Palestinians, or if Palestinian lives become intolerable, but its true significance is in the total disintegration of trust between Jews and Palestinians", though he also believed some reactions to the barrier have been under-reported, for example that "some Arab towns, especially in southern Galilee, have welcomed the wall as a means of preventing Palestinians entering Israeli towns and adding to the unemployment and instability."[3]


David Cesarani died on 26 October 2015, after he had had surgery the previous month to remove a cancerous spinal tumour. He had been diagnosed with the cancer in July 2015. He spent the week before his operation checking the footnotes for his final book at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and was still writing ten days before his death. He had completed two works: Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933–1949 and Disraeli: The Novel Politician which were both scheduled to be published in 2016.[16]


As author

  • Justice Delayed: How Britain Became a Refuge for Nazi War Criminals (Heinemann, 1992) Reissued by Phoenix Press in 2001. ISBN 1-84212-126-X
  • The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry 1841–1991 (Cambridge University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-521-43434-3
  • Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind. (Heinemann, 1998) Reissued by the Free Press. ISBN 0-684-86720-6
  • Eichmann: His Life and Crimes, which was published in the USA under the title: Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" (Da Capo Press, 2006) ISBN 0-306-81476-5
  • Major Farran's Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State (Da Capo Press, 2009) ISBN 978-0-306-81845-5
  • Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933–1949 (Macmillan, 2016) ISBN 978-0-230-75456-0
  • Disraeli: The Novel Politician (Jewish Lives, Yale University Press, 2016) ISBN 978-0-300-13751-4

As editor

  • The Making of Modern Anglo-Jewry (1990)
  • The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation (1994)
  • Genocide and Rescue: The Holocaust in Hungary, 1944 (1997)
  • Port Jews: Jewish Communities in Cosmopolitan Maritime Trading Centuries, 1550–1950 (2002)
  • "Bystanders" to the Holocaust: A Re-evaluation (2002)
  • Citizenship, Nationality and Migration in Europe (with Mary Fulbrook 2003, first ed. 1996)
  • Holocaust. Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. 6 vols. (2004)


  1. ^ a b "Prominent British Holocaust Historian David Cesarani Dies at 58". Haaretz. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  2. ^ David Cesarani, 'Autobiographical Reflections on Writing History, the Holocaust and Hairdressing,' in Michael R. Marrus, Milton Shain, Christopher R. Browning, Susannah Heschel (eds.),Holocaust Scholarship: Personal Trajectories and Professional Interpretations, Palgrave Macmillan 2015 pp.67–83 p.73.
  3. ^ a b c Crace, John (12 October 2004). "David Cesarani: The making of a defiant moderate". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  4. ^ "David Cesarani, historian – obituary". The Telegraph. 2015-10-29.
  5. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (2015-10-30). "David Cesarani, Holocaust Historian and Eichmann Biographer, Dies at 58". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-02.
  6. ^ "Obituaries – David Cesarani – Leading British scholar and expert on Jewish history who helped to shape Holocaust education". The Times. 2015-10-27.
  7. ^ The Guardian, Obituary, published 26 October 2015
  8. ^ Kershaw, Ian (25 July 2004). "Nothing banal about his evil". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  9. ^ Gewen, Barry (14 May 2006). "The Everyman of Genocide". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Professor David Cesarani". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  11. ^ "David Cesarani: The limits of free speech". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  12. ^ Guttenplan, David (2002). The Holocaust on Trial: History, Justice and the David Irving Libel Case (2nd Edition). London: Granta. p. 298. ISBN 1-86207-486-0.
  13. ^ Cesarani, David (2 June 2006). "The Left's 'anti-Semitism' can't go unchallenged". The Times. Archived from the original on 15 June 2007. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  14. ^ Cesarani, David (26 January 2015). "There Is No 'Wave' of Anti-Semitism". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  15. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KXlpvKTzSw
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)


Stone, Dan (2019) British Jewry, antisemitism and the Holocaust: the work and legacy of David Cesarani: an introduction, Patterns of Prejudice, 53:1, 2-8, DOI:10.1080/0031322X.2018.1557962

External links

1960 in Israel

Events in the year 1960 in Israel.

Aliens Act 1905

The Aliens Act 1905 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Act for the first time introduced immigration controls and registration, and gave the Home Secretary overall responsibility for immigration and nationality matters.While the Act was ostensibly designed to prevent paupers or criminals from entering the country and set up a mechanism to deport those who slipped through, one of its main objectives was to control Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe saw a significant increase after 1880 which served as some basis for the creation of the Aliens Act 1905. Although it remained in force, the 1905 Act was effectively subsumed by the Aliens Restriction Act 1914, which introduced far more restrictive provisions. It was eventually repealed by the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919.

Antisemitism (authors)

This is a list of authors in the field of antisemitism in alphabetical order.


Cesarani is the name of:

David Cesarani (1956–2015), English historian who specialised in Jewish history

Sal Cesarani (1939–), American fashion designer

Deborah Oppenheimer

Deborah Oppenheimer is an American film and television producer. She won an Academy Award in 2001 for best documentary feature for producing Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000). The film was written and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris, released by Warner Bros., and made with the cooperation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Judi Dench narrated.

In 2014, Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation for all time in the National Film Registry.

Oppenheimer co-wrote the teacher’s study guide and co-authored with Harris the film’s companion book of the same name by Bloomsbury Publishing (2000). It has a preface by Richard Attenborough and an introduction by historian David Cesarani. The book was republished by Bloomsbury in 2017.

Oppenheimer’s most recent documentary, FOSTER, presented by Participant Media and Emerson Collective, will appear on HBO in 2019. Reunited with writer/director Harris and several of the production team from Into the Arms of Strangers, the film is a revealing first-hand look at the complex foster care system as seen through the eyes of those who know it best.

Oppenheimer conceived and led U.S. strategies and was production consultant to the Carnival Films television series, Downton Abbey, executive produced by Gareth Neame and written by Julian Fellowes. Downton Abbey is the most nominated non-U.S. show in history and the highest rated PBS drama ever.

As Executive Vice President of Carnival Films, Oppenheimer developed and executive produced Christopher Guest’s Family Tree for HBO and BBC1, starring Chris O'Dowd.

As President of Bruce Helford’s Mohawk Productions at Warner Bros., Oppenheimer executive produced television shows starring Drew Carey, George Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Norm Macdonald, and Bernie Mac.

Oppenheimer was associate producer for the Cable ACE Award-winning production of the Showtime / PBS drama, Master Harold...and the Boys, written by Athol Fugard, produced by Michael Brandman, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and starring Tony-award winning actors John Kani, Matthew Broderick, and Zakes Mokae.

Engage (organisation)

Engage is a British website, and briefly an online journal (from 2006–7), that aims to help people counter the boycott Israel campaign. Engage describes its mission as to "challenge left and liberal antisemitism in the labour movement, in our universities and in public life."

Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye

The Fareynikte Partizaner Organizatsye (Yiddish: פֿאַראײניקטע פּאַרטיזאַנער אָרגאַניזאַציע‎; "United Partisan Organization"; referred to as FPO by its Yiddish initials) was a Jewish resistance organization based in the Vilna Ghetto that organized armed resistance against the Nazis during World War II. The clandestine organisation was established by Zionist as well as Communist partisans. Their leaders were writer Abba Kovner and Yitzhak Wittenberg.

Final Solution

The Final Solution (German: Endlösung) or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question (German: die Endlösung der Judenfrage, pronounced [diː ˈɛntˌløːzʊŋ deːɐ̯ ˈjuːdn̩ˌfʁaːɡə]) was a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geo-political terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the killing of 90% of Polish Jews, and two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.The nature and timing of the decisions that led to the Final Solution is an intensely researched and debated aspect of the Holocaust. The program evolved during the first 25 months of war leading to the attempt at "murdering every last Jew in the German grasp". Most historians agree, wrote Christopher Browning, that the Final Solution cannot be attributed to a single decision made at one particular point in time. "It is generally accepted the decision-making process was prolonged and incremental." In 1940, following the Fall of France, Adolf Eichmann devised the Madagascar Plan to move Europe's Jewish population to the French colony, but the plan was abandoned for logistical reasons, mainly a naval blockade. There were also preliminary plans to deport Jews to Palestine and Siberia. In 1941, wrote Raul Hilberg, in the first phase of the mass murder of Jews, the mobile killing units began to pursue their victims across occupied eastern territories; in the second phase, stretching across all of German-occupied Europe, the Jewish victims were sent on death trains to centralized extermination camps built for the purpose of systematic implementation of the Final Solution.

Final Solution (disambiguation)

Final Solution primarily refers to the Nazi plan to kill all the Jews in Europe which culminated in the Holocaust.

Final Solution(s) or The Final Solution may also refer to:

The Final Solution (band)

The Final Solution, a book written in 1953 by Gerald Reitlinger

Final Solution (2001 film), a South African drama

Final Solution (2003 film), an Indian documentary about the 2002 Gujarat Riots

Final Solution (professional wrestler), a ring name of Robert "Jeep" Swenson

The Final Solution (novel), a 2004 novel by Michael Chabon

Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933–1949, a 2016 book by David Cesarani

Final Solutions, a 1993 play by Mahesh Dattani

"Final Solution", a song by Black Label Society from The Blessed Hellride

"Final Solution", a song by Rocket from the Tombs/Pere Ubu

"The Final Solution", a song by Sabaton from Coat of Arms

Final Solution of the Czech Question, a Nazi Germany plan for a complete Germanization of Czech Lands

"Final solution to the Isaaq problem", a euphemism used during the Isaaq genocide in the late 1980s

Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution


Génocidaires (French pronunciation: ​[ʒenɔsidɛʁ], "those who commit genocide") are those guilty of the mass killings of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, in which close to a million Rwandans, primarily Tutsis, were murdered by their Hutu neighbors. In the aftermath of the genocide, those guilty of organizing and leading the genocide were put on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Those guilty of lesser crimes—participation, profiting through seizing Tutsi property, etc.—were put on trial in gacaca courts.

The term is also used more broadly to refer to any perpetrator of genocide.


Hamshahri (Persian: همشهری‎, "Fellow citizen"; Persian pronunciation: [hæmʃæhˈɾi]) is a major national Iranian Persian-language newspaper.

Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS

Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS ("Command Staff Reichsführer-SS") was a paramilitary organisation within the SS of Nazi Germany under the personal control of Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. Established in 1941, prior to the German invasion of Soviet Union, it consisted of the Waffen-SS security forces deployed in the occupied territories.

Maurycy Orzech

Maurycy Orzech (Polish pronunciation: [mauˈrɨt͡sɨ ˈɔʐɛx]; nom de guerre: Janczyn; 1891 – August 1943, Warsaw) was a Polish-Jewish economist, journalist, politician and a leader of the Jewish Bund in interwar Poland. He was one of the commanders of the Bund during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Peter Longerich

Peter Longerich (born 1955) is a German professor of history. He is regarded by fellow historians, including Ian Kershaw, Richard Evans, Timothy Snyder, Mark Roseman and Richard Overy, as one of the leading German authorities on the Holocaust.

Peter Mandler

Peter Mandler, FBA (born 1958) is a British historian and academic specialising in 19th and 20th century British history, particularly cultural history and the history of the social sciences. He is Professor in Modern Cultural History at the University of Cambridge and Bailey fellow in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Rollkommando Hamann

Rollkommando Hamann (Lithuanian: skrajojantis būrys) was a small mobile unit that committed mass murders of Lithuanian Jews in the countryside in July–October 1941, with a death toll of at least 60,000 Jews. The unit was also responsible for a large number of murders in Latvia from July through August, 1941. At the end of 1941 the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry was effectively accomplished by the Rollkommando in the countryside, by the Ypatingasis būrys in the Ponary massacre, and by the Tautinio Darbo Apsaugos Batalionas in the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. In about six months an estimated 80% of all Lithuanian Jews were killed. The remaining few were spared for use as a labor force and concentrated in urban ghettos, mainly the Vilna and Kaunas Ghettos.

The Gladiators (novel)

The Gladiators (1939) is the first novel by the author Arthur Koestler; it portrays the effects of the Spartacus revolt in the Roman Republic. Published in 1939, it was later reprinted in other editions.

The book is the first of a trilogy, including Darkness at Noon (1940), and Arrival and Departure (1943), which address idealism going wrong. This is a common theme in Koestler's work and life. Koestler uses his portrayal of the original slave revolt to examine the experience of the 20th-century political left in Europe following the rise of a Communist government in the Soviet Union. He published it on the brink of World War II. Originally written in German, the novel was translated into English for other audiences and was published in 1939. In the UK it was translated by the German-born, British writer and artist Edith Simon. The manuscript of the German version, for which no publisher had been found, was lost during Koestler's flight at the Fall of France; the German edition finally published after the war had to be re-translated from English.

In 1998 the British critic Geoffrey Wheatcroft wrote of the novel:

"In The Gladiators, Koestler used Spartacus's revolt around 65BC to explore the search for the just city, the inevitable compromises of revolution, the conflict of ends and means, the question of whether and when it is justifiable to sacrifice lives for an abstract ideal."

The Holocaust in Lithuania

The Holocaust in German occupied Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian (Litvaks) and Polish Jews, living in Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland within the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian SSR. Out of approximately 208,000–210,000 Jews, an estimated 190,000–195,000 were murdered before the end of World War II (wider estimates are sometimes published), most between June and December 1941. More than 95% of Lithuania's Jewish population was massacred over the three-year German occupation — a more complete destruction than befell any other country affected by the Holocaust. Historians attribute this to the massive collaboration in the genocide by the non-Jewish local paramilitaries, though the reasons for this collaboration are still debated. The Holocaust resulted in the largest-ever loss of life in so short a period of time in the history of Lithuania.The events that took place in the western regions of the USSR occupied by Nazi Germany in the first weeks after the German invasion, including Lithuania, marked the sharp intensification of the Holocaust.An important component to the Holocaust in Lithuania was that the occupying Nazi German administration fanned antisemitism by blaming the Soviet regime's recent annexation of Lithuania, a year earlier, on the Jewish community. Another significant factor was the large extent to which the Nazis' design drew upon the physical organization, preparation and execution of their orders by local Lithuanian auxiliaries of the Nazi occupation regime.

The Jewish Chronicle

The Jewish Chronicle (The JC) is a London-based Jewish weekly newspaper. Founded in 1841, it is the oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the world.The newspaper is published every Friday (except on days which are Jewish holidays, when it appears earlier in the week) providing news, views, social, cultural and sports reports, as well as editorials and a spectrum of readers' opinions on the letter page. The news section of its website is updated several times a day.

It is owned by the Kessler Foundation (UK), a charitable trust in the United Kingdom which has overall control of the newspaper and its assets.

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