As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his "final solution" to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob Weisz must rely on his wits and a God he's not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi's atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe.
“Evil unchecked is the prelude to genocide” is the opening sentence. Jean Luc Leclerc, an assistant protestant pastor in Sedan, France knew that the Nazis were coming. He was only twenty-eight years old had blonde hair and blue eyes. He went to his niece’s birthday party with the purpose of persuading his sister and brother-in-law that the Nazis would soon cross the border into France and they needed to get out. As little Jacqueline blew out the candles, boom! Pieces of glass and wood were everywhere. The Nazis asked which people are Jews. They beat a lot of people to death and loaded their cattle cars. Families were desperate to escape. They gathered at Luc’s brother-in-laws house. Before long they has 20 some people eating and sleeping and making plans for escape. Luc knew that they could not do enough, he worked to have the whole town Why not get the whole town to help?
Jacob Weiss was only seventeen years old in Siegen Germany in 1930. He was Jewish but he was not religious. Since the Brownshirts came into power, Jews had lost their citizenship, his father lost his teaching job at the university, big piles of books burned, synagogues burned and of course Jews were not allowed to have any firearms. Just in their little town 30,000 Jewish men were arrested. Jacob discovered his own sister beaten to death. When he was upstairs in his bedroom, not able to sleep he heard noises. His father was shot. His mother yelled at the top of her voice for him to run then she was shot. He climbed out of his bedroom window and began the journey of his life.
Later Jacob Weiss and Luc Leclerc meet in Auschwitz. Witness to unspeakable horrors, they must escape to tell the world what is happening and prevent the finishing of the genocide. This book is riveting, filled with starvation, sickness, sorrow and love. At times I had to escape temporarily from the reading about the horrible acts that the Nazis committed but once there was hope of breaking out of Auschwitz, I could not lay this book down.
Please, please read this book, learn from it and encourage others to read it.
I received this book as a win from FirstReads and that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in my review.
But as Hitler consolidates power over Germany and then starts annexing the nations around, life changes dramatically. Soon, under Uncle Avi's influence, Jacob finds himself part of the Jewish Resistance movement. And then the unthinkable happens.
The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg takes place in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Rosenberg not only paints scenes of these places in shades of hopeless black and grey, but we taste the slop soup and mouldy bread, feel the cold through thin clothes, the pain of bruised and blistered feet, and smell of smoke from those hellish ovens. That last is a constant reminder of what's really happening here.
Rosenberg digs deep into Jacob, making us feel his disbelief, abhorrence, fear, despair and hope that surely help will come once the world knows what's going on here.
The Auschwitz Escape is a compelling, sobering story that takes us back to World War II and then asks us to examine current world events in the light of what we can and should do despite how inconvenient and unpopular it might be.
The Auschwitz Escape is part of my own Kindle collection.
Epic in scope, Joel Rosenberg’s “The Auschwitz Escape” is a work of historical fiction that is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. Young and naïve Jacob Wiesz, guided by his beloved Uncle Avi, joins the Resistance movement in
With “The Auschwitz Escape,” Rosenberg crafts an incredible thriller that readers will not be able to put down. Despite its sordid subject matter, Rosenberg handles the story with grace and clean language, drawing upon true accounts and several historical figures. The narrative focuses mostly on Jacob and his experiences, and despite the plethora of Holocaust books already published, this one is unique in its focus and approach. It teaches that even in the darkest hours, there is hope and a place for miracles. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, Holocaust and WWII literature, and heart-pounding suspense will find “The Auschwitz Escape” a must-read.
It was very easy to get wrapped up in the action of this book, and to also wonder about the historical events upon which it as based. I had to stop and look up some of them to check the facts against the events portrayed in the book, which it was basically true to (some of the timelines were altered just a bit, as the author explains in an appendix at the end of the novel). I enjoyed the learning more about history in this way. You could also see how Jacob's experiences changed him throughout the book which made following his journey more interesting and believable I'd definitely recommend this to fans of historical fiction, it brings out yet another aspect of World War II history that not everyone knows about.
Research was also well done. The reader gets a real feel for the horrors of Auschwitz and the intensity of life under Nazi rule, both in Germany and Belgium. The author took the time to get the details right and really transport his readers. There are a few instances of historical inaccuracy, but for the most part, the author explains why he did what he did in the author’s notes. They are mostly for the ease of storytelling and aren't that glaring.
However, there are other aspects of the book that aren’t as well done or handled. Characterization is at the top of the pile. Characters are very three-dimensional, with many facts of each person explored. Yet, they seem to fall to either end of the spectrum, with nothing in between.
Luc seems too perfect, with no foibles to balance his rescuer characterization. And don’t get me started on Jacob! He’s a whiny, prejudiced brat who changes his mind on a whim, depending on who he just got done talking to. I don’t know if the author was trying to show the goodness of the Christians who did help in the Holocaust against the starkness of Auschwitz with Luc or if he was trying to make Jacob very human along with the courage to escape and tell the world of the Holocaust. But both of these leads to go the extreme end of the characterization spectrum and seem too good and too prat-ish to be real.
Then there are the Christian elements. Thankfully, they’re not of the preachy variety, which given the subject matter and setting is a God send (forgive the pun). But they are very definitely THERE, sometimes to the point of being in your face. Abundant uses of philosophical discussion, mutual Bible readings, and soul searching almost seems to take over the story at times, to the detriment of the intense escape/survival story.
With an intense story and great research, this book can stand as a good one in the WWII genre with which to while away an afternoon. Yet in-your-face Christian elements and characterization that makes you grit your teeth keep it from being a stellar work. Recommended for lovers of WWII fiction or Christian fiction, but be prepared for some irritation as well.