More than seventy years after the Holocaust, the number of survivors is fading. The youngest of them, who were children at the end of World War II, are approaching the century-old mark.
Max Glauben is one of these survivors. His story is told in the 2021 book, The Upstander: How Surviving the Holocaust Sparked Max Glauben’s Mission to Dismantle Hate. Written by Jori Epstein with a foreword by Michael Berenbaum, they tell Glauben’s story in startling detail. Born to a middle-class Jewish family in Warsaw, his life was upended by the slow noose that was being pulled around Europe’s Jews.
Forced into the Warsaw Ghetto with his family, he was one of the few people who was able to slip in and out of the ghetto without being noticed. When the war finally ended in 1945, Max had lost his parents, his brother, and other relations. Relocating to the United States, he married and had his own family, but never spoke of his experiences during the war.
After decades of being silent, Max reached a crossroads. He could either stay on the path he was on. Or, he could tell his story, release his pain, and speak for the millions who were murdered.
This book is very good. The character arc from an ordinary young man to a boy who had to grow up quickly and finally to an adult with a past he could not speak of was the narrative hook I needed.
The question that the reader is asked is what they can do. In doing so, Max’s story becomes ours. Though we who are reading the book were not there with him, we bear witness to his experience. By doing so, we remember those who were killed and ensure that the generations coming up will continue to tell their stories.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
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