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April 25, 2003 - Image 80

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-25

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s & Entertainment

Yom HaShoah

On The Bookshelf

A sampling of recent books with Holocaust-related themes.


Special to the Jewish News


n the night of
Kristallnacht, Nov. 9,
1938, when Gestapo agents
came to arrest Dr.
Seligmann Baer Bamberger at his
Hamburg home, he wasn't
there. As the uniformed
men barged into his apart-
ment and searched
throughout for the teacher
and Jewish community
leader, he was on his way
to the Bornplatz
Synagogue. Having been
warned about the impend-
ing destruction, he set out
to rescue the Torah scrolls.
His effort ultimately saved
his life.
For several days after Kristallnacht,
Dr. Seligmann managed to hide out
and avoid arrest. The family left
Germany in 1940 — carrying one of
the saved Torah scrolls with them —

through the efforts of Dr. Seligmann's
friend Edgar Frank, who had left for
America shortly before Kristallnacht.
Dr. Seligmann's son Joseph, who
was 10 on Kristallnacht and still
recalls the sound of the loud rap on
his family's front door that night, mar-
ried Frank's daughter Dorothy. Now a

(Bullfinch Press; $40), with a preface by
David G. Marwell, director of the muse-
um, and text by Allan Appel.
The book, illustrated with 140 color
and black-and-white photographs
from the museum's collection, tells the

resident of Manhattan's Upper East
Side, he donated the Torah scroll to
New York City's Museum of Jewish
Heritage — A Living Memorial to the
The Bambergers' story is recorded in

textured stories behind 36 artifacts
donated to the museum.
Along with the Torah scroll, fea-
tured are a pair of skis used by a
young woman who had worked for
the Resistance in Oslo, Norway, and

Holocaust, stands apart because it also
becomes a poignant coming-of-age
saga. Salton is 11 when he first con-
fronts Nazi terrorism and 16 when
finally liberated. During the years
when school and sports are
usually foremost in a young
boy's thoughts, he struggles to
survive. His childhood is lost
Growing up in a small
Polish town, Salton, then
known as Luzek Saltzman,
enjoys a comfortable life as
the son of a prominent lawyer
and a musically talented
mother. His older half-broth-
er, Manek, is his idol. The
German invasion of Poland
ends this idyllic time.
During the first years of
Occupation, the family stockpiles food,
digs a bomb shelter, buries a weapon in
the back yard. No one anticipates relo-
cation into the Rzeszow Ghetto. For
Salton, it is the first of 10 forced labor

and death camps he will occupy, only
two with love and support from family.
Boys were usually not selected for
camp work parties, but Salton, at age
14 and claiming he is older, manages
to stay with Manek. During the
Occupation, the young boy had
acquired some skill as a locksmith; this
mechanical skill will
save his life.
At first, Manek's
presence in the ghetto
offers some security,
but when the broth-
ers are separated,
Salton confronts a
stark and painful
Predictably there is
hunger and depriva-
tion, but it is the cru-
elty of Salton's cap-
tors that evokes dis-
belief. At one point a
sadistic guard orders Salton to remove
his cap and sloshes yellow paint over
Salton's newly shaved head. It will not
wash off; he is nearly blinded.
Worse abuse follows. A Ukrainian

'The 23rd Psalm'


ust when you think you've read
every book about the Holocaust
you ever want to read, another
one comes along that cannot be
ignored. George Salton's The 23rd
Psalm (University of Wisconsin Press;
$24.95) is that story. Not since Elie
Wiesel's Night has there been a more
compelling memoir.
Salton's book, assuredly, relates
information about the Holocaust that
is all too familiar. Conditions in the
camps — the transports, the suffering
—have all been well documented by
survivors who, in recent years, have
sensed they must tell their tales before
it is too late.
Prompted by his three grown chil-
dren, Salton, a physicist and engineer,
began recording his experiences after
he retired from an impressive 28-year-
long career at the Pentagon. For years
he had avoided their questions, deter-
mined, he says, to shield them from
the cruel world of his youth.
His book, while set in the




the first book published by the museum,

To Lift' 36 Stories of Memory and Hope

had to quickly escape to Sweden in
1941; a patchwork dress worn in hid-
ing in Biecz, Poland, from 1942 to
1945; and a set of handmade playing
cards used by a pair of young sisters
hidden in a chicken coop in
Sosnowiec, Poland, from 1942 to
1943, as well as photographs and doc-
Among the many new Holocaust-
related titles published this season are
memoirs, histories, never-before-told
stories and reference works. Another
beautifully illustrated book, Who Will

Say Kaddish? A Search for Jewish
Identity in Contemporary Poland
(Syracuse; $39.95), with
text by Larry N. Mayer
and photographs by Gary
Gelb, looks at contempo-
rary repercussions of the
Holocaust in Poland. In
their wanderings and
interviews, Mayer and
Gelb find a resurgence of
Jewish life, albeit a fragile
Gelb's robust black-and-
white photographs can be
bittersweet or joyous, or poignantly sad.
Included are scenes of a Yiddish theater
company in Warsaw where most of the
actors are not Jewish, a Jewish summer
camp for teenagers, the caricature-like
sculptures of Jewish faces on sale in the

guard, seeing Salton has a talent for
drawing, demands pornographic pic-
tures. Still young, Salton has no idea -
how to depict sex. It is one more har-
rowing episode.
Without Manek, Salton begins an
endless odyssey from camp to camp.
Each time he is shoved into another
transport, it seems his life will end.
In May 1945, Salton is finally res-
cued. Holocaust stories typically end
with liberation. But what reader does-
n't want to know what follows? Salton
offers a small epilogue.
Today, the author lives with his wife,
Ruth, in an affluent Palm Beach
Gardens, Fla., community, where,
together they work tirelessly to raise
funds "to teach the lessons of the
Holocaust in Florida schools."
Salton writes he had promised his
mother he would, above .all, be a
mentsh. He lives his life without bitter-
ness; he drives a German car.
And until Sept. 11, he had been
successful in raising children in a land
where they would know no fear.

— Edith Broida

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