This article argues that Albert Friedlander's edited book, Out of the Whirlwind (1968), should be recognised as pathbreaking. Among the first to articulate the idea of ‘Holocaust literature’, it established a body of texts and contextualised these as a way to integrate literature – as well as historical writing, music, art and poetry – as critical to an understanding of the Holocaust. This article also situates Out of the Whirlwind through the personal history of Friedlander and his wife Evelyn, who was a co-creator of the book, his colleagues from Hebrew Union College, and the illustrator, Jacob Landau. It explores the work's connection to the expansive, humanistic development of progressive Judaism in the United States, Britain and continental Europe. It also underscores Friedlander's study of Leo Baeck as a means to understand the importance of mutual accountability, not only between Jews, but in Jews’ engagement with the wider world.