The Last Million: David Nasaw with Atina Grossmann

Tue. Dec 15, 2020 8:00pm - 9:00pm EST
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The bestselling author and historian presents a sweeping new history that tracks the fates of the 1 million refugees left behind in Germany after WWII.

"The violence of war did not end with the signing of ceasefires, truces, or peace treaties," writes David Nasaw in his new book. Millions of concentration camp survivors, POWs, slave laborers, political prisoners, and Nazi collaborators in flight overwhelmed a ruined Germany. After exhaustive efforts to repatriate the malnourished and desperate refugees, there remained more than a million displaced persons left behind in Germany: Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, and other Eastern Europeans who refused to go home or had no homes to return to. No countries were willing to accept the 200,000250,000 Jewish people who remained trapped in Germany—including the United States, which severely limited the entry of Jews on suspicions of their being Communists. It took the controversial partition of Palestine and Israel's declaration of independence to find home for the Jews who remained in displaced persons camps in Germany.

Join David Nasaw as he discusses The Last Million and the until now largely hidden story of postwar displacement and statelessness, a story whose contemporary resonance shows us that it is our history as well. Nasaw speaks with Atina Grossmann, Professor of History at The Cooper Union.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

David Nasaw
is the author of The Patriarch, selected by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year and a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography; Andrew Carnegie, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recipient of the New York Historical Society's American History Book Prize, and a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography; and The Chief, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize for History and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for Nonfiction. He is a past president of the Society of American Historians, and until 2019 he served as the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center.

 Atina Grossmann is Professor History at The Cooper Union in New York City. Relevant publications include Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany; Wege in der Fremde: Deutsch-jüdische Begegnungsgeschichte zwischen New York, Berlin, and Teheran (2012); and co-editor, Shelter from the Holocaust: Rethinking Jewish Survival in the Soviet Union (with M. Edele and S. Fitzpatrick, 2017), The JDC at 100: A Century of Humanitarianism (with A. Patt, L. Levi, M. Mandel, 2019), and Our Courage/Unser Mut: Jews in Europe after 1945 (with K. Bohus, 2020). She has held fellowships from the Davis Center at Princeton University, Mandel Center of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, American Academy Berlin, German Marshall Fund, ACLS, and NEH as well as guest professorships at Humboldt University Berlin, Friedrich Schillar University Jena, and University of Haifa. Her current research focuses on Trauma, Privilege, and Adventure: German Refugees in the "Orient" as well as the entanglements of family memoir and historical scholarship.


If you have a NYPL library card—or live in New York state and want to apply for one now—you can borrow The Last Million for free with our e-reader app SimplyE, available for iOS and Android devices. The title is available in accessible formats for community members who do not use standard print. Find out more at: You can also request this book, and more, for pickup at one of our Grab & Go locations.

Readers everywhere who wish to purchase copies of The Last Million can do so at The New York Public Library Shop. Proceeds benefit The New York Public Library. Plus, receive a 125th Anniversary tote bag with your purchase!

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David Nasaw © Alex Irklievski

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