In Hillel’s Steps

"In Hillel's Steps," Commentary, February 1947.  (A review of In Darkest Germany by Victor Gollancz.)


In the eyes of the British public, Victor Gollancz is probably one of the outstanding Jewish laymen in the country. When one considers the fact that he is neither especially active in Jewish affairs, nor is the recipient of the notoriety which goes with a slanderous anti-Semitic attack, this appears rather odd. He has, after all, never held a government post, nor appeared on the screen, nor written a best seller, nor made any celebrated contribution to the arts or sciences. He heads one of the smaller publishing houses, which specializes in moderately priced books on current affairs, mainly from the Socialist point of view. His self-imposed task has been to prod the British conscience into a recognition of the hideous burden of error and oppression under which men, no matter where, are convulsed—a thankless pursuit at best. Yet somehow, in his long and vociferous battle in defense of human rights, he has managed to convey the sense of a deep personal union between the fact of his being a Jew and that of his being a humanist. He is often explicit about it when he feels it relevant to be so; but when it is not explicit, it is ineradicably implicit.

Commentary Magazine