How does David Korda, a lone Jewish labor camp prisoner, a man utterly without resources, dare to take on officials in the Nazi war against Jews?
One at a time. One Gestapo art thief at a time. One brutal SS officer at a time. And one Nazi informer at a time. With courage. And with his wits.
After his expulsion from medical school, David is forced into building roads, mining salt, and harvesting grain. On occasion he’s compelled to make his medical skills available to his SS captors; in so doing, he’s brought into their professional and private lives where they use him to safeguard their positions in the Nazi pecking order.
Herman, a Rabbi and fellow labor camp prisoner, before his death, bequeaths his talis to David, not for Jewish ritual but to keep himself warm in the harsh Austrian winter. Later, the prayer shawl becomes an instrument for David’s deliverance.
What drew G. Gruen to this story world? Like his protagonist, David Korda, Gruen’s father, on the verge of his medical school graduation, was forced out and turned into a ragged labor camp worker. More than occasionally, he slept in a zoo. Taking his father’s experience and superimposing the danger of an escape plan dialed up the drama’s intensity and stakes.
The risk in The Uniform involves David’s discovery of a murdered Gestapo officer’s body. Repairing the dead man’s gashed and bloodied tunic puts David inside a caper tale where he can fashion a disguise and carry out an escape plan. In so doing, he discovers a uniquely Jewish story of deliverance.