Reviewer Michelle Kaye Malsbury:
Michelle was born in Champaign, IL. Currently, she resides in Asheville, NC
and is in her second year of doctoral studies at Nova Southeastern
University in Ft. Lauderdale with specialization/concentration in
conflict resolution and peace studies. She has over six hundred
articles published on the web and one book published thus far with
many more in the wings. Hobbies include; reading, writing, music, and
playing with her Australian Cattle Dog, Abu.
On page 2 (2015) Martin states “…my grandfather Alex Goldschmidt, and his younger brother, my uncle Klaus Helmut Goldschmidt, were two of the more than nine hundred Jewish refugees who attempted to flee Nazi Germany in May 1939 on board the ocean liner called the St. Louis.” This one sentence sets the tone and direction for this enthralling book. Numerous family members of Martin were killed at Auschwitz and those who made it out of Germany were brave to embark on the unknown especially aboard an oceanliner. Martin speaks about the guilt and despair that his parents seemingly never passed along to he and his siblings because they tried to keep that portion of their lives hidden. As a matter of fact they went so far as to never speak about being Jews. Martin was well into his teens before he began to seek out his religious heritage.
In Martin’s 40’s he dug into his parent’s lives in Germany so he could learn about the family he lost. He he says “I’ve come to feel a deep need to connect with that vanished generation, with those members of my family who were murdered a decade before I was born.” (2015, p.5) His father had Alzheimers and Martin went to the state to obtain guardianship. In 2009 he died. “Eleven months later…I received the …news that my brother had died. “ (p.8) “…quickly felled by a heart attack. He was sixty.”
Martin decided to trace his families last steps before they landed in America so he could understand the horror that they endured. He began his trip in Switzerland and then Germany. He outlines details of the castles he visited and the opulence of those structures before visiting the place where his family called home. “In 1841, the Goldschmidt family’s assets were modest: two fruit trees and a single goat.” (2015, p.20) However, that meager beginning paved the road for far more. “By the end of the decade…the Goldschmidt family fortune had soared; Levi had become a Pferdehandler, a dealer of horses.” (p.21)
Martin finds the dates of his lineage and who married whom, who had which children and more. When things heated up in Germany Martin’s family was given the opportunity to leave or get arrested. That was 1938. They spoke to the Cuban Consulate regarding emigration to Cuba because Cuba was one of the few countries that would take Jews post Pogrom. They were then able to buy tickets aboard the St. Louis and prepare for a new beginning. As it turns out this plan was foiled, but if you want to learn more you’ve got to read this book yourself because I am not going to spoil it for you!
Warmly recommended with caution.