A survivor’s memoir of the Shoah.
Rosenblat’s family, like the other Polish Jews, had tried to flee during the late 1930s, but they did not manage to escape the tightening circles of Nazi oppression. His father died of typhus in May 1942. Five months later, all the Jews in their ghetto were ordered to report for deportation in the middle of the night. Thirteen-year-old Herman claimed to be 16 and was selected for slave labor with his three older brothers. Their mother was sent directly to the death camp at Treblinka. She pushed Herman away when he begged to go with her, pretending to be angry so he would join his brothers. Only later, when he marched away and saw tears streaming down her face, did he realize what she had done. The Rosenblat brothers endured at Buchenwald and Theresienstadt. Remembered six decades later, their story is still vibrant and vivid. The author recalls his sleeping dreams and the waking nightmare of real life in a concentration camp. Though there are many astonishing twists in his narrative, there is none more remarkable than the tale of Rosenblat’s first two encounters with the young woman who became his wife—after they went on a blind date nine years later in Coney Island. (The young survivor had made his way to New York after being transported to England.) The author’s personal history attests to his recovery from a scarifying confrontation with systematic evil and murder on a cosmic scale. He leaves it to the reader to decide what his wartime experiences meant, then and now.
Simple, unpretentious prose makes Rosenblat’s memoir all the more potent.