Reviewer Steve Moore: Steve is a full-time writer and ex-scientist. Besides his many technical publications, he has written six sci-fi thrillers (one a novel for young adults), many short stories, and frequent comments on writing and the digital revolution in publishing. His interests also include physics, mathematics, genetics, robotics, forensics, and scientific ethics. Follow Here for his WEBSITE.
Although some books aboutWorld War Two are depressing, whether historical fiction on non-fiction, they offer up history’s lessons about courage, duplicity, murdering fanatics, and genocide that we should never forget. This book contains all those lessons, but it’s not depressing in the long run. Mr. Goldman’s mother escaped the Nazis “final solution”; few European Jews did. With the world’s current turn toward fascism yet again, and too many genocides in the old Yugoslavia, Africa (too many to count), with the Rohingya, and others, it seems we have not learned those lessons at all. Anti-Semitism is also making a comeback in Europe and the U.S., two more places to watch in the future.
This is the story of Malka Repstein, a Polish Jew, who became Molly Goldman, the author’s mother. It is basically in two parts titled “Malka’s War” and “The Jew Who Met Himmler.” (There is a third part dealing with the aftermath and the consequences for Molly and Stanley that are generalized to other survivors and their children—for some reason that’s not included in the Table of Contents.)
The first part follows Malka from the time when she was captured and her two children were led off to be murdered, through concentration camps and slave labor at Krupp’s armaments factory, and finally to Ravensbrück at the end of the war where she was scheduled to be gassed and cremated.
The second part is about Norbert Mazur, the unsung hero who manages to convince the monstrous Himmler to release one thousand Jewish women at Ravensbrück. Himmler was the architect of the final solution who implemented Hitler’s policy. This was “the bargain that broke Adolf Hitler and saved my [Stanley’s] mother.” How Mazur managed this incredible feat when Hitler had ordered all POWs killed is an amazing story, nearly as amazing as Malka’s survival on the way to that last concentration camp.
This is a well-written page-turner for any reader wanting a different perspective on Nazi atrocities. The author effortlessly moves from the general to the particular and back as he puts his mother’s plight in context. There are forty-four pages of references and bibliography. I learned why the title taken from Shakespeare’s Henry VII was chosen, for example. All that might make a prospective reader think that this book Is an academic work. Yes, it is well-documented history, but it’s more than that. I can understand why Mr. Goldman felt he had to tell his mother’s story. It is a compelling one, and every reader who pretends to understand this dark era in human history should read it.