The time setting of 1940, Neugeboren’s new novel, enables him to carry his intriguing narrative from a relatively tranquil era turning stormy, into a projected future of calamitous upheaval for humanity. 1940 is a momentous year in the long range plans that Adolf Hitler, who has recently annexed Austria to form a united Germany, is implementing for his world takeover, while making his Deutschland Judenrein. The novel’s main focus is the romantic attachment formed in December, 1940 between an Austrian physician, Dr. Eduard Bloch, an emigré now living in the Bronx, and a divorcée, Elisabeth Rofman, a gifted illustrator of human anatomy, clearly destined for success. Her (and therefore her new beau’s) problem is her institutionalized son, Daniel, a victim of an out of the ordinary situation. But a major irony underlies the story’s plot. This concerns Dr. Bloch’s early life in Vienna. He had been the young Adolf Hitler’s personal physician, and had served the boy’s critically ill mother as well. As a result, Bloch alone among the vast number of Jews seeking to escape was officially permitted to leave the unified Germany after the “adult” Hitler closed the gates on them. Thus Bloch may incur new problems. This well written, “double vision” novel merits a wide, appreciative audience.
Samuel I. Bellman is professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University of Pomona. He has been writing on Jewish American writers since 1959.