This is not an easy book to read. It is the memoir of the ordeal of Aaron Herskowitz, a young Czechoslovakian who was caught up in the deadly cauldron of Nazi occupied Europe, who somehow survived and with the help of his son, the author of this work, shares his harrowing experiences with the reader. As Aaron discloses in the beginning of the book: “I am…beloved son, father, brother, husband; a…patriotic son of Czechoslovakia, soldier, lover of God; slave laborer, hater of God, Russian partisan, persecutor, killer, survivor.” He shares his story honestly, without apology and with no effort to smooth over the jagged edges of the experience. The memoir is often raw and disturbing, true to the times and the personalities it depicts. Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the book is the “blood rage” it depicts, the retribution that Aaron and his colleagues took against Nazis and their collaborators. These scenes are brutal and disturbing and raise questions about standards of appropriate behavior under extreme circumstances. Aaron urges the reader to “…hear my testimony before rendering judgment, and ask yourself: what would you have done in my place?”
The book is well-written and often gripping and provides a perspective rarely found in Holocaust memoirs. It is recommended for mature readers who have the perspective and background to engage the material and the ethical issues it raises.