The nephew of a Dutch Jewish dance teacher sent to Auschwitz gradually uncovers her tale of survival and triumph.
Glaser’s name appears solely on the title page of this work, though he has taken his aunt Rosie’s wartime diary and fleshed it out for publication, adding numerous photographs and letters for an overall sense of the consummate spirit of his aunt. Having lived in Germany during her earliest years, when her father worked in a German factory, Rosie was fluent in German; the nonreligious Jewish family eventually moved to the Netherlands, where Rosie became infatuated with dancing. After her first love, a pilot, was killed on a flight in 1936, Rosie used her dance skills to make a new life for herself and ensure her self-preservation throughout the years to come. She became the wife of a dance instructor, helping him to run his thriving studio until the Nazi invaders made it increasingly difficult for Jews to work or even move around the cities. A flirtation with another man turned disastrous: Both men, the first out of jealousy, the other from venality, betrayed her to the occupiers. Yet every step of the way, from deportation to imprisonment in Auschwitz, Rosie managed to sway fate her way—or, as she states: “I quickly assessed the situation and tried to regain some semblance of control over my life.” Alternating with her first-person narrative is the journey the Catholic-raised author took toward grasping his Jewish heritage and confronting the various skittish relatives for the truth, including the aged Rosie herself.
A readable, personable study and a scathing indictment of Dutch passivity in the face of occupation, though without being able to read the actual diary, readers may wonder about the liberties taken by the nephew.