“The author follows ‘the life of a single individual…from his childhood in a rural Hessian town prior to World War I to his death in Auschwitz in 1944... [This work] gives the reader a clear insight into how the Nazi persecution of the Jews grew out of German social conditions of earlier decades. The life story of ‘Sigmund Stein’ also poignantly illustrates the Jewish ambivalence between national and ethnic loyalties. Dickinson is exceptionally well-informed about the historical background, while his narration of ‘Stein’s’ tragic life is written with the skill of a fine novelist. Highly recommend.”
‘Sigmund Stein’ (whose real identity is revealed for the first time in this edition) was a prominent lawyer in the town of ‘Hochburg’ (Marburg) – a Jew, yes, but a German with deep roots in rural Germany. When fellow Jews urged Stein to leave Germany in the 1930s and after, he refused, arguing that he could best serve his people by acting as a buffer between the Jewish community and the Nazis. From 1933 to 1944 he was methodically stripped of his rights as a citizen and of his dignity as a human being. The torment of his Jewish heritage and his proud German upbringing the loyalties of a lifetime was finally resolved in Auschwitz.
“An extraordinary and original book...This is the compelling biography of a man who lived during an incredibly complex period of history – a typical ‘little man’ who happened to be Jewish, always trying to take the easy way out, who walked to his doom small step by small step. This is the first biographical account of a fairly assimilated German Jew who lived in Germany up to the very end, that is, up to 1942.”
— Bruno Bettelheim
“[This story] shows the effectiveness of the biographical approach to history … German & Jew is tragic, but no more morbid than [Anne Frank’s] Diary of a Young Girl…. Mr. Dickinson can only speculate about Sigmund Stein’s thoughts and feelings. However his  interviews of Mr. Stein’s acquaintances and surviving relatives and his prodigious reading of published and unpublished material enabled him to write such a coherent and well-written description of Hessian life before and during the Nazi period that one is tempted to call the book a nonfiction novel.”
— Library Journal
“Dickinson restores on a minute scale the grand tragedy that preoccupies Bruno Bettelheim, Hannah Arendt, and a few other heroes….Sigmund Stein is Man, magnificently memorialized.”
— Milton Mayer, author of They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945
“When [this extraordinary biography] first appeared in …1967, it was one of a kind….[The book] is and will always be unique.”
— from the new introduction by Raul Hilberg
John K. Dickinson became interested in Sigmund Stein in 1951, when he was in Germany helping Milton Mayer with research for They Thought They Were Free. He returned twice more to Germany before completing this unique biography. Most of the facts for his re-creation of Sigmund Stein’s life come from his interviews with nearly two hundred persons who had some contact with Stein while he lived. For many years Mr. Dickinson taught sociology at Springfield College in Massachusetts, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife.