The Upstander: How Surviving the Holocaust Sparked Max Glauben’s Mission to Dismantle Hate Book Review

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.

Thoughts On the 77th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

During war, especially when one is forced to live under the thumb of an enemy invading army, its easy to give in and give up.

Its difficult, dangerous and potentially life threatening to fight against this enemy invading army. But for some, it is the only thing they can do.

In 1943, as the Nazis were getting ready to “liquidate” the surviving Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Their destination was the death camps and concentration camps. Yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

For nearly a month, Jewish fighters held out against their captors using whatever tools they had at their disposal. Though few survived the battle and even fewer survived the war, their legacy lives on. They knew that they had no chance of winning, but even the smallest dent in the fight for life and freedom was worth the cost.

77 years later, we remember the martyrs. We remember their bravery and their courage in the face of unspeakable horrors.

Tomorrow is Yom Hashoah. We remember the millions of lives lost and honor those who survived. Though we are facing a worldwide pandemic via Covid-19, the lessons from the Holocaust are as relevant today as they were nearly 80 years ago.

May their memories forever be a blessing. Z”l.

A Train To Warsaw Book Review: An Intense And Powerful Look At The Holocaust

The Holocaust is such a powerful and overwhelming subject that sometimes, it seems almost impossible to make it human and real.

Gwen Edelman’s new book, The Train To Warsaw, starts 40 years after the end of World War II. Jascha and Lilka met and fell in love in the Warsaw Ghetto.  Escaping the ghetto separately, they reunite in London. Four decades after the war, Jascha has become a celebrated novelist. He has been invited back to Warsaw to give a reading of his book.  While Lilka is eager to go and wants to relive her childhood, Jascha refuses, for he sees no reason to return.

Lilka wins and they travel in the middle of bitterly cold December back to Warsaw. Intertwined in their intimate conversations are the memories of their lives before and during the war, the family, friends and neighbors whose lives were taken and the Poles who were eager to work with the Nazis in reaching their goals. A secret is revealed towards the end of the novel, causing the characters to wonder if they can still trust each other.

I’ve read many Holocaust books, but this book is different. It is intimate and human. Instead of dealing the very daunting subject of the Holocaust as a whole, Ms. Edelman focuses on her two main characters who have different memories of their lives in Warsaw.  Lilka and Jascha’s relationship feels normal and loving, despite the hardships they have endured.

I recommend this book.

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