By: Nate Nylander
This spellbinding, fast-paced book reads like a spy thriller. Lichter, a Miami architect, speaks for a group not often heard from: the ultra-orthodox Polish Jews. Lichter grew up in Lvov; son of an old Hasidic family, in the traditional belief that whatever happens is the will of God. In August 1942, the Lichter family faced sure extermination by the Nazis. Their only hope was to escape from Poland. After placing his youngest sister with friends, 19-year-old Uri escaped to the Ukraine and returned with forged papers for his father and two brothers. Mrs. Lichter and another sister were unable to be saved; he lost his mother and older sister in the Holocaust. By posing as gentiles and falsifying their documents, and with the help of kind Polish Christians, Uri, his sister, father, and his brothers all survived. To their credit it must be said that they remained religious even as they became prosperous in their new homeland, America. This story is an important addition to Holocaust testimonies because it affords a glimpse of the rich Hasidic life in pre-war Poland that has been so completely destroyed. Recounted conversations and detailed portraits of friends and foes give the tale another interesting quality.
Uri also does a great job with giving pictures of the falsified documents that made him a Pole. In addition to that he has detailed maps of his families’ route of travel. Uri even has samples of travel passes and work permits, along with a Russian army newspaper article of the liberation. Uri also charts the chronological order of Hitler’s Calendar along with a map that outlines the path he crossed. Nevertheless, the fear, tension, and sorrow of the masquerading Lichters, focuses readers' consciousness on the realities of the horrors of the Holocaust. However, there is some happiness in that the story of the Lichters survival, by pretending to be Polish Aryans, is marked with courage, guile, and good luck. Overall, this book would be a good teaching tool. It is very easy to read, and has some great maps that are easy to understand. I would recommend this book at the junior high and high school levels.
Uri was from a rich family, but he goes into great detail of how daily life in the city was and what was going on the day it was bombed. In addition to that, he discusses what the Nazi terror in Lvov was like in the city and how the Germans could see the “Jewish eyes.” I think this would be beneficial to our project on Nina and understanding even more the terror she went through. The only thing this book doesn’t contain are the description of the camps since Uri was a fake polish Aryan, but for a detailed look into Lvov this is a great book.