Harry Gordon emigrated to the United States in 1949 and now lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Gordon's memoir of surviving the Holocaust in Lithuania is told from the perspective of a youth who grew up in a large, supportive family circle but learned how to endure through his own wit and by confronting the worst of human nature. The Red Army's initial occupation of Kovno was followed by the Nazi invasion and the deportation of the region's Jews to Slobodka ghetto, where massacres and transport to German concentration camps eventually followed. Few survived, but Gordon preserves the record for the many in detailing major events; the ambivalent behavior of Lithuanians toward Jews; and the community organization, work, and routine of ghetto life. When Gordon conveys that he preferred death to life without his family and hoped for survival through patient endurance, the reader better understands the mind of the Holocaust victim. A simple and direct account for Holocaust collections and larger libraries of Eastern European history. See also Art Spiegelman's Maus, a Survivor's Tale II: And Here My Troubles Began , reviewed in this issue, p. 160.-- Rena Fowler, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
"A powerful tribute to the human spirit and the will and determination of one human being to survive in a hell not of one's own making." - CCAR Journal: A Reform Jewish Quarterly "Gordon's memoir of surviving the Holocaust in Lithuania is told from the perspective of a youth who grew up in a large, supportive family circle but learned how to endure through his own wit and by confronting the worst of human nature." - Library Journal"
When Russia annexed Lithuania in 1940, Jews, if not Christian Lithuanians, greeted the Red Army with flowers, recalls Gordon. But the following year, when Germany declared war against Russia, the then-16-year-old author's security as member of a large, close-knit family of affluent Kovno Jews would be shattered. In a Holocaust memoir made unique by its rare depiction of Nazi-occupied Lithuania and by its condemnation of the local Jewish council, Gordon bears witness to the brutality of Lithuanians and conqueror alike as he reconstructs his corner of hell from the German invasion to his 1944 rescue as a Dachau escapee, his two-year hospitalization and emigration to the U.S. in 1949. Although crudely written--``To Lithuanians Jewish blood tasted better than the best wine''; the Jewish police lived ``like parasites on someone else's blood''--the book makes a tremendous impact as we read of starvation, grueling work parties, betrayals, executions, Auschwitz and Dachau, the deaths of virtually all members of Gordon's family. After arriving in the U.S. with his Polish wife (met in a displaced persons' camp), the author's life, unfortunately, did not markedly right itself: he quickly divorced, then, with little else available to him, became a ``Yiddish peddler'' in Wisconsin. (Jan.)