James Parkes and the Holocaust

  • Tony Kushner


In june 1977 Franklin Littell wrote to James Parkes: ‘You’ll be interested to know that we have just gotten approval for the first PhD program in Holocaust Studies in the USA.’ Parkes was intrigued by this development and wrote back that he would be particularly interested ‘if there were any way in which I could keep in touch with what your researchers define as “the psychological situation which made the holocaust possible”. That seems to me the key from a practical point of view.’ Subsequently Parkes was invited to be an advisor to Littell’s newly formed National Institute on the Holocaust in Philadelphia which aimed to encourage the ‘study and discussion of the Holocaust and the lessons to be learned from it at all levels and in all sectors of public life’.2


Jewish Population Jewish People Jewish History Protestant Church Death Camp 
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  1. 3.
    See, for example, Edward Linenthal, Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum (New York: Viking, 1977);Google Scholar
  2. Tony Kushner, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), chapter 7;Google Scholar
  3. Peter Novick, The Holocaust and Collective Memory (London: Bloomsbury, 2000), chapters 10 and 11.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Parkes to Littell, 2 August 1977 in SUA MS 60/31/30; James Parkes, Voyage of Discoveries (London: Gollancz, 1969), p. 180.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    This is partly explained by his own personality. Parkes was willing to risk a permanent outsider status in the Christian world for his views on Jewish issues but he never promoted himself as personality above his life work. He was, as Colin Richmond suggests, ‘too well mannered’, almost too ‘English’, in spite of his Guernsey background, to engage in self-publicity, an approach that I might add others in areas he pioneered could take note of. Voyage of Discoveries is ‘so unassuming it reveals virtually nothing’. See Colin Richmond, ‘Parkes, Prejudice and the Middle Ages’, in Sian Jones, Tony Kushner and Sarah Pearce (eds), Cultures of Ambivalence and Contempt: Studies in Jewish-Non-Jewish Relations (London: Vallentine, Mitchell, 1998), pp.212, 241.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Victor Gollancz, Let My People Go (London: Gollancz, 1942);Google Scholar
  7. Ruth Dudley Edwards, Victor Oollancz: A Biography (London: Gollancz, 1987), p.375.Google Scholar
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    David Cesarani, Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind (London: William Heinemann, 1998), pp.189, 202–3;Google Scholar
  10. E.T. Wood and S.M. Jankowski, Karski: How one man tried to stop the Holocaust (New York, J. Wiley, 1994).Google Scholar
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    Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    See Yehuda Bauer, Jews for Sale: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933–1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), chapter 10, esp. p. 188 for the Morrison quote;Google Scholar
  13. Louise London, Whitehall and the Jews 1933–1948: British Immigration Policy and the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), chapter 8; Parkes, Voyage of Discoveries, p. 175.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    See, for example, James Parkes, The Jew and his Neighbour: a study of the causes of anti-Semitism (London: Student Christian Movement Press, 1930).Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    See, for example, Gotz Aly, The Final Solution: Nazi population policy and the murder of European Jews (London: Arnold, 1999).Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    James Parkes, ‘The Jewish world since 1939’, International Affairs vol. 21 no. 1 (January 1945), pp. 87–99 and Simpson response, pp.100–105. See also SUA MS 60/11/1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 24.
    Parkes, ‘The Jewish World Since 1939’, p.90; Dan Stone, ‘The Domestication of Violence: Forging a Collective Memory of the Holocaust in Britain, 1945–6’, Patterns of Prejudice 33/2 (April 1999), p.21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 25.
    James Parkes, ‘The German Treatment of the Jews’ in Arnold and Veronica Toynbee (eds), Survey of International Affairs 1939–1946, vol. 4 Hitler’s Europe (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), pp. 153–64.Google Scholar
  19. 27.
    James Parkes, Antisemitism (London: Vallentine, Mitchell, 1963), p.158.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    James Parkes, ‘The Mentality of Persecutor and Persecuted’, The Scotsman, 24 May 1961; Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperPerennial, 1993).Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    James Parkes, Judaism and Christianity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), chapter 7. This book was based on the Charles William Eliot Lectures at the Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, given by Parkes in 1946 and 1947.Google Scholar
  22. 34.
    Lionel Steiman, Paths to Genocide: Antisemitism in Western History (London: Macmillan, 1998), pp.1, 242; Stone, ‘The Domestication of Violence’, p.22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 36.
    James Parkes, Christianity, Jewish History and Antisemitism (Southampton: The Parkes Library, 1976), p.7.Google Scholar
  24. 37.
    Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (London: Little, Brown and Company, 1996), p.52; Parkes, Antisemitism, p.60.Google Scholar
  25. 38.
    Parkes, Judaism and Christianity, p.137; Robert Everett, Christianity Without Antisemitism: James Parkes and the Jewish—Christian Encounter (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1993), pp.240–41.Google Scholar
  26. 39.
    Parkes review of Hilberg, November 1961, in SUA MS 60/10/2; Zymunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust (Oxford: Polity Press, 1989); Richmond, ‘Parkes, Prejudice and the Middle Ages’, pp.219–20, 223–7 for Parkes, Modernism and the Holocaust. See also Everett, Christianity Without Antisemitism, passim for a sensitive reading of Parkes in this respect.Google Scholar
  27. 54.
    Richard Gutteridge, ‘The Churches and the Jews in England, 1933–1945’, in Otto Dov Kulka and Paul Mendes Flohr (eds), Judaism and Christianity Under the Impact of National Socialism (Jerusalem: Historical Society of Israel, 1987), p.353. For a summary of the existing historiography on British Christianity and the Jews under Nazi control.Google Scholar
  28. see Chana Kotzin, ‘Christian Responses in Britain to Jewish Refugees from Europe, 1933–1939’ (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Southampton, 2000), Introduction.Google Scholar
  29. 63.
    James Parkes, The Foundations of Judaism and Christianity (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 1960), p.x.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Tony Kushner

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