A Bor­der Town in Poland: A 20th-Cen­tu­ry Memoir

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

Hirsch Bieler’s proud­ly Jew­ish first-per­son mem­oir of dis­place­ment, resilience, loss & hope in ser­i­al promised lands’ res­onates in a world again flood­ed by refugees. His dra­mat­ic life sto­ries, shared with his daugh­ter & son-in-law, became their 40-year quest to doc­u­ment the van­ished life & times’ of a fam­i­ly dias­po­ra from Poland to Ger­many, Chile, Eng­land, Den­mark, Mex­i­co, Pales­tine & Amer­i­ca. The book traces Hirsch’s odyssey from ear­ly life in the Pol­ish-Pruss­ian bor­der town Gra­je­wo, through star­va­tion on WWI’s East­ern Front, his adult adop­tion’ by a child­less Chris­t­ian cou­ple & entre­pre­neur­ial rise in Weimar Germany/Hitler’s Third Reich, to his flight with his young fam­i­ly from Leipzig to Tel Aviv & even­tu­al U.S cit­i­zen­ship. His expe­ri­ences — as teenage smug­gler, then fur trad­er, Sovi­et-Ger­man petro­le­um entre­pre­neur, solo busi­ness­man after 1933 Aryaniza­tion, & attempt­ed sav­ior of fam­i­ly trapped by Soviet/​Nazi inva­sions — cap­ture in vivid detail the tumul­tuous events when luck, tim­ing & prop­er doc­u­ments meant life or death. They include a rev­e­la­to­ry 1928 trip to Man­date Pales­tine that paved the way for his 1936 emi­gra­tion there.

Discussion Questions