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An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides…
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An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust

by Bernat Rosner

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    Parallel Journeys by Eleanor H. Ayer (KarenElissa)
    KarenElissa: A children's book along the same lines, telling the story of a German Jew and a Hitler Youth.
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An Uncommon Friendship is an uncommon book: the dual memoirs of a German youth who experienced the war in a small village with his Nazi-obsessed but largely absent father, being raised by his strong anti-Nazi stepmother, and a Hungarian Jew about the same age (12-14) who lost his mother, father and brother in Auschwitz and then survived trials on other camps and forced marches. The former went on to become a professor of German literature at Berkley; the latter retired as chief counsel of the Safeway company. They met through their wives, became friends because of their shared European backgrounds and love of literature and music, and then slowly, tentatively, began to explore their parallel lives separated by the "fateful divide".

Tubach's story is one of wartime deprivations, the fear of the Nazi regime, the pervasive and self-protective silences in the face of wrongdoing, the pressures to conform (his stepmother would not let him join the Hitler Youth), and, post-war, the independence of thought and action that took him to America to begin a new life. Rosner's story is another world: a small, almost forgotten village, and Orthodox family, religious studies, and then the world collapses when the Jews are rounded up and packed into the trains to Auschwitz; Rosner never saw his mother or father after again the turmoil of the disembarkation from the trains. He survived because of a mixture of luck, timing, mental toughness, ability to roll with events and always having an eye for the smallest advantage that could be the dividing line between life and death. Post-war, his life almost became a fairy tale given the swing of extremes: he was befriended by Charles Merrill, son of the founder of the Merrill investment firm, brought to the USA, and taken into a family of great wealth and status. Rosner embraced his new life with gusto and with intelligence and hard work he rose high in the corporate world. Both men, in a sense, remade their lives, but each was fleeing from something quite different, with Rosner wanting more completely to forget and to look only forward.

The book is well written, it is warm; the basic decency of the two men comes through very clearly. And in the end, they attribute their friendship and their mutual exploration of the past to nothing more than their belief in the universal concept of a common humanity. This book reaffirms that humanity.
  John | Aug 13, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520225317, Hardcover)

Two men, who meet and become good friends after enjoying successful adult lives in California, have experienced childhoods so tragically opposed that the two men must decide whether to talk about them or not. In 1944, 13-year-old Fritz was almost old enough to join the Hitler Youth in his German village of Kleinheubach. That same year in Tab, Hungary, 12-year-old Bernie was loaded onto a train with the rest of the village's Jewish inhabitants and taken to Auschwitz, where his whole family was murdered. How to bridge the deadly gulf that separated them in their youth, how not to allow the power of the past to separate them even now, as it separates many others, become the focus of their friendship, and together they begin the project of remembering.
The separate stories of their youth are told in one voice, at Bernat Rosner's request. He is able to retrace his journey into hell, slowly, over many sessions, describing for his friend the "other life" he has resolutely put away until now. Frederic Tubach, who must confront his own years in Nazi Germany as the story unfolds, becomes the narrator of their double memoir. Their decision to open their friendship to the past brings a poignancy to stories that are horrifyingly familiar. Adding a further and fascinating dimension is the counterpoint of their similar village childhoods before the Holocaust and their very different paths to personal rebirth and creative adulthood in America after the war.
Seldom has a memoir been so much about the present, as we see the authors proving what goodwill and intelligence can accomplish in the cause of reconciliation. This intimate story of two boys trapped in evil and destructive times, who become men with the freedom to construct their own future, has much to tell us about building bridges in our public as well as our personal lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:24 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In 1944, 13-year-old Fritz Tubach was almost old enough to join the Hitler Youth in his German village of Kleinheubach. That same year in Tab, Hungary, 12-year-old Bernie Rosner was loaded onto a train with the rest of the village's Jewish inhabitants and taken to Auschwitz, where his whole family was murdered. Many years later, after enjoying successful lives in California, they met, became friends, and decided to share their intimate story--that of two boys trapped in evil and destructive times, who became men with the freedom to construct their own future, with each other and the world. In a.… (more)

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