Books in Brief: Recalling and Reimagining the Holocaust
Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 400 pp. $26 cloth, Mariner $15.95 paper)
The hunt for Adolf Eichmann, who oversaw the Final Solution, took 15 years. The persistent search for the escapee from two American POW camps in Europe to living with his family in Argentina has the intrigue and thrill of great fiction. Among the “true” characters are Simon Wiesenthal, a West German prosecutor, an Argentinean Jew and the newly created Israeli spy agency, Mossad. This is a must-read book.
The Polski Affair by Leon H. Gildin. (Diamond River Books, 204 pp. $16.95)
Gildin’s fictional account takes into account the historical Hotel Polski in Poland, where Jews were able to buy passports to neutral countries. It is the story of Rosa, a Jewish partisan, who infiltrates the hotel and becomes the companion of its Nazi commandant. After she has settled in Israel, she is asked to go to Germany to bear witness against the officer, who is being charged with war crimes.
Annexed: A Novel by Sharon Dogar (Houghton Mifflin, 341 pp. $17)
This young adult novel is written from the viewpoint of Peter Van Pels, the young boy who was part of the group hiding in the annex with Anne Frank and her family. It flows with the chronology of Anne Frank’s diary, except it is written as Peter’s later reflections as he lay ill in Mauthausen concentration camp in May 1945. He recalls life in the attic, what it was like being with the contradictory Anne, how the other occupants of the annex behaved.
A Child al Confino: The True Story of a Jewish Boy and His Mother in Mussolini’s Italy by Eric Lamet. (Adams Media, 384 pp. $21.95)
Eric Lamet was only 7 years old when the Nazis invaded Vienna; soon Eric and his parents flee for their lives. His father goes back to his native Poland—and never comes back. His mother runs with Eric from place to place, taking her son deeper and deeper into the mountains to avoid capture. Eventually, they are sent with other Jews into internal exile in Fascist Italy.
Lamet re-creates the Italy he knew from the perspective of the scared and lonely child he once was. We not only see the hardships and terrors faced by foreign Jews, but also the friends they make. The author imbues his recollections with humor, humanity, and wit.
Saving What Remains: A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey Home to Reclaim Her Ancestry by Livia Bitton-Jackson. (Lyons Press, 208 pp. $21.95)
Anyone who has read the author’s four previous memoirs about life in Hungary, surviving Auschwitz and coming to America will want to read the latest amazing episode in Livia Bitton-Jackson’s life. In 1980, she returned to Samorin, Czechoslovakia, the town from which she and her family had been deported. Why? To disinter the bodies of her grandparents from the cemetery that would soon be flooded because of a new dam being built, and to rebury them in Israel. At the time in Communist hands, Bitton-Jackson had to use all her wits to honor her mother’s request.