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The Kindness of the Hangman

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About the Author

In 1933 Henry Oster was just 5 years old, a carefree kindergartner in Cologne, Germany, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seized power. For the next 12 years Henry struggled to keep on breathing while his family, his friends and the Jews of Europe were overwhelmed by the Holocaust. Henry hid his mother from the SS in an attic in the Lodz, Poland Ghetto. He escaped a firing squad in Auschwitz. Endured a death march through the Polish winter. Formed a life-long friendship in the nightmare barracks of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Saw his friends killed by a British fighter-bomber. And came within hours of starving to death before his liberation by General Patton's 3rd Army. Henry rebuilt his life from nothing, coming of age as a free young man in Paris. He arrived in the U.S. with no English, no money and no education. And from the ashes of a ruined past built a life full of love, joy and compassion. Now, complete with chilling documents liberated from the Nazi concentration camps themselves, his heartbreaking, triumphant story can finally be told. Dexter Ford is a Contributing Writer to The New York Times and other major publications on history, politics, the Holocaust, World War ll, architecture, transportation technology and the auto, aviation, motorcycle industries. He also writes extensively on adventure travel: he has flown upside-down with the Blue Angels, ridden a motorcycle through China, Russia, and the Andes, and swum alone, at night, with airplane-sized Manta Rays. Mr. Ford lives in Manhattan Beach, California and Higgins Bay, New York.


"A raw memoir beyond imagination: one man's account of a child's bewildering, unbelievable true story. Is there a message? I do not know. Is there a time for contemplation, for silent reflection? Undoubtedly. Is there a time for confronting those fools who deny the Holocaust? Now, always. And forever." Stuart Kuttner Managing Editor News International "Henry Oster is more than a survivor. His recounting of coming back from feeling as if he "had died in many ways" is inspiring in its tone of rebirth, fealty to a loving family, honor to his heritage, and a victorious path in regaining control over his life in order to provide hope for a just world in the future." Linda Rader Overman, PhD Professor of English; author of Letters Between Us It's not possible to imagine the horror of a Nazi death camp unless you were there, seeing it, breathing it, smelling it, shivering in the cold, making oneself invisible when the hand of death reaches out. But 16-year-old Jewish Henry Oster was there; condemned to four years of hell in Lodz, Birkenau, Auschwitz and Buchenwald. With author Dexter Ford he gives chilling firsthand descriptions, of the systematic slaughter of inmates when they could no longer perform useful work, and how he, with determination, brains and luck somehow survived. "The Kindness of The Hangman" had a particularly strong impact on me. I visited the Auschwitz Museum in 1962. I took the tour through the primitive barracks and the showers with the coat hangers on the walls. I saw the tubes down which they dropped the Zyklon B gas, the huge steel door upon which corpses got stacked high while the dying tried to escape. I saw the carts outside on which Sonderkommandos (prison workers) piled corpses, pulled out gold teeth and shoved remains into the ovens. I saw the bins of clothing, prostheses, and human hair saved for the Nazi war effort. "The Kindness of The Hangman" brought it all back. I got goose bumps. But it also inspired me, knowing that a skinny Jewish kid could escape this hell to become a highly respected professor in my home town of Los Angeles. This is not just another Holocaust book. This is the real item that can change your life. Stan Mott Author, The Absolute Alliance

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