A first-hand account that gives special attention to the author's experience among pre-dominantly non-Jewish partisans in Soviet Russia, where he confronted anti-Semitism while facing a common enemy. In this candid memoir, Harold Zissman examines Jewish existence in prewar and wartime Poland. Born into an observant family, he begins by recalling his youth in the Polish town of Ostrow-Mazowieck, near the German border. It is the 1930s, a time of childhood nostalgia darkened by ominous anti-Semitic uprisings and government indifference. In lean and concise prose, Zissman relives the German invasion of Poland and his own incarceration in a forced labor camp. He recalls life in the Derechin ghetto, where every day brought brutal Nazi persecution and the constant threat of slaughter. Finally, he tells of escape to Russia, where he fought alongside Soviet partisans - only to face prejudice from his comrades. In the tradition of Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi, Zissman probes the Nazi impact on Jewish notions of identity and community during and after the Holocaust. Few books offer such detailed insights into the complexity, peril, and volatility of life as a Jew among non-Jewish Soviet partisans, even while battling a common enemy.
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