Based on a decade of work by Father Patrick Desbois and his team at Yahad–In Unum that has culminated to date in interviews with more than 5,700 neighbors to the murdered Jews and visits to more than 2,700 extermination sites, many of them unmarked.
One key finding: Mass murder does not happen without the neighbors. The neighbors are instrumental to the crime.
In his National Jewish Book Award–winning book The Holocaust by Bullets, Father Patrick Desbois documented for the first time the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during World War II. Nearly a decade of further work by his team, drawing on interviews with neighbors of the Jews, wartime records, and the application of modern forensic practices to long-hidden grave sites. has resulted in stunning new findings about the extent and nature of the genocide.
In Broad Daylight documents mass killings in seven countries formerly part of the Soviet Union that were invaded by Nazi Germany. It shows how these murders followed a template, or script, which included a timetable that was duplicated from place to place. Far from being kept secret, the killings were done in broad daylight, before witnesses. Often, they were treated as public spectacle. The Nazis deliberately involved the local inhabitants in the mechanics of death—whether it was to cook for the killers, to dig or cover the graves, to witness their Jewish neighbors being marched off, or to take part in the slaughter. They availed themselves of local people and the structures of Soviet life in order to make the Eastern Holocaust happen.
Narrating in lucid, powerful prose that has the immediacy of a crime report, Father Desbois assembles a chilling account of how, concretely, these events took place in village after village, from the selection of the date to the twenty-four-hour period in which the mass murders unfolded. Today, such groups as ISIS put into practice the Nazis’ lessons on making genocide efficient.
The book includes an historical introduction by Andrej Umansky, research fellow at the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, University of Cologne, Germany, and historical and legal advisor to Yahad-In Unum.
SubtitleThe Secret Procedures behind the Holocaust by Bullets
AuthorBy Father Patrick Desbois, Introduction by Andrej Umansky
Published23 January 2018
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
Illustrations25 B & W Photos.
About the author
Father Patrick Desbois is president of Yahad in Unum, founded with Cardinal Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, and Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress, and holds an endowed professorship at Georgetown University. He is the author of The Holocaust by Bullets, winner of the 2008 National Jewish Book Award, and has received numerous honors for his groundbreaking work on the Holocaust, including the Humanitarian Award from the US Holocaust Museum. He travels extensively for speaking engagements and has appeared twice on 60 Minutes. He resides in Washington, DC, and Paris, France.
"When asked why his work matters, he responds, “Because it still happens. It’s not the past, unfortunately. It seems to be part of the future.”—aish.com
“Bluster can grab attention, but it is details that shake the conscience. Father Patrick Desbois has done the heroic work of documenting, literally down to the bullet, how genocide was perpetrated by the Nazis, and how it was tolerated, even facilitated, by civilians. By doing so, he has not only given us insight into what happened, but what will continue to happen if we, as civilians, are not vigilant. This book should be required reading.”—Jonathan Safran Foer, bestselling and award-winning author of Everything Is Illuminated and member of the US Holocaust Commission
“Were it not for Father Desbois and his team, most of us would still think the Holocaust was carried out in secret, behind the walls of the concentration camps. We would not have to consider the mothers and fathers who brought their children to watch the mass murder of innocent Jews. Or confront the fact that so many helped willingly and many more watched. Genocide, we learn from Desbois, ‘does not happen without the neighbors.’ It is not happening today ‘without the neighbors.’ And the reality for us all is that we are ‘the neighbors.’ Anyone who cares about humanity will not want to miss this book.”—Lara Logan, 60 Minutes
"The late Congressman Tom Lantos warned that ‘The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.’ Fr. Desbois's chilling new book shows us a world stripped of its veneer of civilization, decency, and humanity. After reading his account, we cannot sleep well—Fr. Desbois doesn't intend us to."—Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President, Lantos Foundation
“Father Patrick Desbois expands on his earlier study of the Holocaust by Bullets with a deeply disturbing and penetrating account of the mass shooting process as a two-day event that started with a German official's calculation—the dimensions of the mass grave based on the size of the local Jewish population—and ended with Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, and other locals wearing the clothing of their murdered Jewish neighbors. Desbois's unusual book is a hybrid read—a lyrical memoir of rural life, a graphic crime report that jolts your sensibilities and senses, and an exhortation to investigate genocidaires both past and present. This is among the most detailed and precise accounts of the intense timing and routine methods employed by the Nazis and their collaborators in their torture, murder, and theft of 2.2 million Jews in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.” —Wendy Lower, John K. Roth Professor of History at Claremont Mckenna College, director of the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, and author of the National Book Award finalist Hitler’s Furies
"Father Desbois is a generation too late to save lives. Instead, he has saved memory and history." —Wall Street Journal
"[Desbois] is a human bridge between the modern Jewish world and the Catholic Church and a major conduit through which the Holocaust will be remembered." —Christian Science Monitor