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Wednesday Weekly

Country of Ash: A Jewish Doctor in Poland 1939-1945

By Edward Reicher


I purchased this book for my Kindle. It was released on April 16, 2013 by Bellevue Literary Press. This is another incredible story about the Holocaust and how one Jewish doctor survived. I have read many holocaust novels, but I am always surprised that each story brings something unique to light.

Country of Ash is the starkly compelling, original chronicle of a Jewish doctor who miraculously survived near-certain death, first inside the Lodz and Warsaw ghettos, where he was forced to treat the Gestapo, then on the Aryan side of Warsaw, where he hid under numerous disguises. He clandestinely recorded the terrible events he witnessed, but his manuscript disappeared during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After the war, reunited with his wife and young daughter, he rewrote his story.

Peopled with historical figures like the controversial Chaim Rumkowski, who fancied himself a king of the Jews, to infamous Nazi commanders and dozens of Jews and non-Jews who played cat and mouse with death throughout the war, Reicher’s memoir is about a community faced with extinction and the chance decisions and strokes of luck that kept a few stunned souls alive ( synopsis from Goodreads).

I found that this memoir was compelling. This doctor escapes many times due to incredible coincidences. He was also fortunate in the amount of money and resources that he had. If he had not had these resources he would not have made it. He was also a quick thinker and very smart.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was a true story not something that was made up. It must have been absolutely terrifying to watch your friends, neighbors and relatives constantly vanishing never to return. I was also surprised that they hid their daughter in a convent. I had not heard of anyone hiding out there before, that was an excellent idea. When you are threatened with the loss of your life there are no limits to the extreme measures that you will endure.

This book had just enough politics to understand the events of the time. It was not bogged down with facts. It was fast paced and kept me interested. I felt that it was well done. Edward Reicher is another voice that has lived to be heard. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.


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