Leo Bretholz survived the Holocaust by a series of audacious escapes in an effort to stay one step ahead of the Nazis and their Final Solution. He leaped from trains, ran from police, hid in attics, and assumed aliases during his almost seven year ordeal criss-crossing war-torn Europe. This is his story.Leo Bretholz survived the Holocaust by a series of audacious escapes in an effort to stay one step ahead of the Nazis and their Final Solution. He leaped from trains, ran from police, hid in attics, and assumed aliases during his almost seven year ordeal criss-crossing war-torn Europe. This is his story.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 1998-10-12 Bretholz was 17 when, in 1938, the Germans took over his native Austria. His mother, more realistic than other relatives, saw disaster and insisted that he escape, which is what he did for the next seven years, traveling not only through Germany and Luxembourg but to Belgium, France and, briefly, Switzerland, to jails and numerous internment camps. Bretholz relied often on his youthful agility and daring to save himself from much worse; he escaped from a train headed for Auschwitz in 1942. He spent the last years of the war working for the French Resistance, emigrating in 1947 to Baltimore, where he ran a bookstore (frequented by coauthor and Baltimore Sun columnist Olesker). Whether telling of running or hiding, every paragraph in his memoir is harrowing. In one wrenching story, he tells of a young female friend who is menaced by a gendarme while he is forced to stay hidden, "crouched on the floor, helpless, emasculated, sickened." Bretholz is also smartly observant of the Austrians ("`First victims,' they will call themselves when the world loses its memory."); opportunistic Swiss; and the French, so many of whom claimed to be Resistance. In the midst of many improbable escapes, there is also a sense of almost exhilarating determinationĉ"I was now a miraculous athlete, a professional escape artist, a young man in perpetual flight. I was indomitable. Also, I was too terrified not to run for my life." For a man who assumed many false identities, the supreme irony came when Bretholz learned his true identity just six years agoĉan event that provides a fitting climax to this inspiring and moving book. 40 b&w illustrations. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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