The details Josef Katz records can often be overwhelming: the death of friends and comrades by murder, hunger, exhaustion, beatings, disease, terror and the perversion of most of the German guards and soldiers. Readers are witness to the progressive dehumanization that Katz and others were subjected to and must marvel that anyone survived. It began for Katz in Lubeck, a small German city, and progressed over the next four years from Riga, Latvia, to the Bikerniek Forest and the Rumbula Forest where 27,000 were murdered, both Jews and Russian prisoners of war. Over the next four years, Katz would experience the worst that Nazis could design in four concentration camps and a death march. Still, there were occasional instances of help and goodwill, even from one Nazi guard. This memoir reached the public after being stored in a drawer for 25 years. An important testimony to the fact of the Holocaust and the amazing resilience of the human spirit.
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.