SOARING UNDERGROUND: A Yong Fugitive's Life in Nazi Berlin by Larry & Vivien Orbach Smith Orbach
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SOARING UNDERGROUND: A Yong Fugitive's Life in Nazi Berlin

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An exciting and unusual mixture of Holocaust journal, coming-of-age story, and memoir of life on the seedy underside of Berlin during WW II. Lothar (now Larry) Orbach was born in 1924 to a family of assimilated, patriotic Jews who could trace their German lineage back to the 15th century. Their patriotism contributed to their downfall: While Lothar's two elder brothers escaped to America, he and his parents remained in Germany. ""If I ever leave the Fatherland, it will be on the very last train,"" declared Lothar's father, on whose emigration affidavit Lothar, still a minor, was included. Mr. Orbach never did leave; he was taken from his home and killed. Then on Christmas eve 1942, the Gestapo came for Lothar's mother, too. But with false papers identifying them as Gerhard and Ida Peters, a bottle of peroxide, and the help of a sympathetic neighbor, Lothar and his mother disappeared. For ""Ida"" it was easier; middle-aged women alone in Berlin were common. ""Gerhard,"" on the other hand, was all too conspicuously out of uniform. He managed to remain at large until August 1944--long after Berlin was declared Judenrein, or free of Jews. Lothar determined to live what time he might have to the fullest. While underground, he lost his virginity with the lonely wife of an SS officer, made a living by hustling pool and cheating in poker, stole, lied, and fought, literally, to stay alive. Some of his experiences are surrealistic: being hosted by an admiring German naval commander or spending his vacation in a Nazi's home--which had once belonged to a prominent Jew. Ultimately, he was betrayed and sent to Auschwitz, where he just barely survived the war. Written with the help of Orbach's daughter, this is totally compelling, and one of the rarer stories of the Holocaust.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Compass Press--dist. by Paul & Co.