In this deeply sensitive, beautifully crafted and moving account, Gören Rosenberg imagines the dark experiences of his father David’s road to Auschwitz that begins in the Lodz ghetto, “a world of gradual degradation and destruction, a world of even more unrealistic hopes, kept alive by increasingly implausible euphemisms, but it’s a world that still has a past and a future.”
Auschwitz was the last journey for many Jews, but not for David. As the war drew to a close in late 1944, a growing system of slave labor camps meant to feed the German war machine opened up roads out of Auschwitz. Thousands of skeletal figures from Auschwitz and other camps are put to work and to this Rosenberg’s father owes his life.
Through various twists and turns, or as Gören Rosenberg, an accomplished Swedish journalist and author, writes, “luck, chance and freak are the stones with which every road from Auschwitz are paved.” Life after Auschwitz is improbable, unpredictable, and capricious and David, in his twenties after liberation, finds himself on a train to Sweden whose government has decided to give refuge to thousands of survivors. He settles in a town near Stockholm where he tries and hopes to rebuild his life, what he calls “the project” — a home, a job, a family, symbols of post-war normality. But the transition from surviving to living is just too difficult. When does the Holocaust end for David, for countless other survivors? Clearly what the Nazis have done to him cannot be left behind and “the project” unravels through the 1950s, with frustration, and depression creeping into his life.
With precision, insight and heart-rendering prose, A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz is one of the most powerful accounts of the other death — the death after the camps caused by the scars of the past that left some survivors unable to build new homes and lives. From its lyrical and poetic opening pages to its disturbing and tragic conclusion, this is an unforgettable book about grief, memory and the inspiring filial compassion of a son who tries to relive and describe his father’s life without sentimentality and prejudice.