One Step Ahead of Hitler is a flight not remembered by the author, who was only three when he experienced it. Because of his talent in interviewing members of his family, researching, and writing, it is an adventure you will not soon forget. Although Gross knew much about the Holocaust because of his family history, he didn’t know precisely what his immediate family, including himself, had experienced. Two decades ago, he tried to query his mother, asking her to tell him the story of the family’s flight from Belgium as the Nazis invaded. He learned a bit, but his stiff-necked mother was uncommunicative, and not until he began to query his older brothers did he learn about what had happened. Then, he too, began to remember some incidents. He remembered his cold, non-demonstrative mother pressing her body over his to protect him, as they tried to escape the strafing by German planes of the refugees streaming toward the coast. Most of the family’s flight took place in occupied France, where the French police helped the Nazis round up more than 75,000 Jews for deportation to the death camps. How was this canny family, interred in the Gurs camp, the way station to Auschwitz, able to free itself? It was through the cleverness and courage of father and son. Read how they ran from place to place, believing that they had found safety in the south of France, only to have the Nazis come there, as well. The brothers and father used their ingenuity, fortitude, courage, and the help of Righteous Christians along the way who risked their own lives on behalf of these desperate refugees as they made their way through France. What makes the book come alive are the many conversations, colorful descriptions, and narrative talent. It could be a novel, but is true. This is a tale worth telling, and here it is told particularly well.
Additional books featured in this review:
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.