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Pub Date: March 7th, 1986
Publisher: Salem House--dist. by Merrimack

A remarkable account of the author's survival of five years in 11 different Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Occupied Poland. Elio Romano was 15-years-old, a member of an Orthodox Jewish family living in the quiet Polish town of Oswiecim, or Auschwitz, when the German blitzkrieg poured across the border. After making a courageous attempt to escape to the Middle East, he was captured and dragged back to Poland, forced to help build the camp which soon became Auschwitz-Birkenau. He took his father's place on a transport and for the next two years worked on an SS labor farm called Parzmiechy, where he managed to get a job as a surveyor and live a relatively easy life, although during this time he learned that his father, mother, sister, and brother had perished at Auschwitz. As the war went against the Germans and the Russians closed in, however, Elio and his friends were forced on a series of desperate transfers to other concentration camps, including Annaberg, where he survived Allied air raids on the Oderberg Chemical Works, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, only a stone's throw from his home, where he was tattooed with the number B-10942, but escaped death because of his youth and health. He was finally transferred to the Kaufering camps in eastern Germany, where he came down with typhoid and miraculously survived, even after being placed in a quarantined camp full of the walking dead. He was liberated by the Americans in April of 1945, one of only 36 survivors of a last-minute German massacre. It's difficult to know why Romano has chosen to label his book a novel, since it seems a straightforward memoir, but whatever its genre, it's another sorrowful addition to the swelling body of Holocaust literature.