LOST IN A LABYRINTH OF RED TAPE by Armin Schmid

LOST IN A LABYRINTH OF RED TAPE

The Story of an Immigration that Failed
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A unique Holocaust biography focused on the bureaucratic nightmares of a family fighting to leave Nazi Germany. Armin and Renate Schmid are German journalists who pieced together the FrÅhauf family's wartime ordeal, based largely on a paper trail of tears. While most of this Jewish family perishes in the death camps, the villains here are not infamous camp commandants but the bureaucrats who consigned them to Hitler's killing field. These faceless and merciless pencil pushers include American immigration officials, Belgian relief workers, Spanish shipping clerks, Swiss consuls, and a dozen German bureaucrats of organizations ranging from Lufthansa to the Gestapo. Because Hilde FrÅhauf was born in the US, the best way out of post-Kristallnacht Germany seemed to be through the family's American ties. Reams of desperate red tape, all documented here, do not help the doomed family get past the evil of bureaucratic banality that conspires to destroy them. After exploring expensive and complicated escape options involving China, Cuba, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and various South and Central American states, the family's matriarch hangs herself in exasperation as German legislation chokes off the FrÅhaufs' ability to survive. Over time, all but one family member are shipped off to labor or death camps. The lucky one, Helga, is young and pretty enough to slip into Belgium with the help of various men--but we never learn what she has to compromise to survive. Where emotion or drama is called for, all the authors can provide us with are flat lines like: ``Felix had to turn to the Swiss legation and beg `most humbly' for an extension of the Cuban visa. Once again it had all been in vain.'' Because we don't get to know the principal subjects well enough, the appeal of this book, though not its historical significance, gets lost in the labyrinth of red tape.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8101-1185-3
Page count: 150pp
Publisher: Northwestern Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996