Book: The Escape Artist
Author: Johnathan Freeland
This is my 76th read of the year
This is a non-fiction story about Rudolf Vrba (whose original name was Walter Rosenberg). He was the first person to escape Auschwitz - and he was only 19 years old when he did it. He wanted to reveal what was happening in the camp and stop the further movement of Jews into these camps. It was hard to convince people on the outside that what he was saying was true. It seemed so unbelievable as he unfolded what was happening in the camps and few headed his warning. In the end he did save 200,000 Jewish lives but he believed to the end of his life that if people would have believed him it could have been so many more. Once outside of the camp, he had a hard time adjusting to the outside world. He remained vigilant from his time in captivity, and had a hard time with his temper and outside relationships based on what happened to him. But he never stopped talking about what happened in the camp and to the Jewish people.
This was a great read. I did not know the story of Rudolf Vrba, and what he did to save the lives he could was beyond brave. This was a troubled man, though. When he got out of the camp, he was forever changed and had a terrible time with personal relationships. He was brilliant and testified in many trials - able to recount innumerable details. My guess is a lot of it had to do with the camp, yes, but also the guilt that he was not able to convince the higher ups outside the camps of what was really happening. While he was recounting his time in the camp and his idea to bomb the railway to stop the trains from carrying more Jews - 600,000 more Jewish people went to their deaths.
I was blown away by the fact that all through his life as he explained what happened in Auschwitz and the Jewish camps was not believed. People could not understand how Jews willingly got on trains to go to these camps. They were supposed to be resettlement camps after all - not death camps. His entire life he came across people who just could not believe that millions lost their lives this way. It is hard for us - who have instant access to any information - to understand what it would be like to truly be "out of sight out of mind" for so many and how frustrating that must have been for Rudolf and those like him,
Great book - check it out.