Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe Since 1945, by Bernard Wasserstein; (Penguin, £7.99 in UK)


In 1939 there were nearly 10 million Jews in Europe, while the most recent count puts the present number at less than a fifth of that.

The Holocaust is all too obviously the main factor in this, but the steady decline of today has other factors, one of the most notable being a low birth rate for Jewish families. As with other world religions, secularism and "absorption" have nibbled away at Judaism, at least in Europe - Israel is plainly another matter. Bernard Wasserstein looks at the postwar situation in Germany, and in the East European countries, where the fall of Communism has not led to a Judaic revival. It is interesting to note that according to a table included in the preface, the number of Jews in the Irish Republic has fallen from 5,000, in 1937 to 1,200. (Predictably, the most spectacular decrease was in Poland - from 3,250,000 in 1937 to 5,000.)