In 2002, Alex Gross shared his horrific story of surviving the Holocaust in Yankele: A Holocaust Survivor’s Bittersweet Memoir. Now, the story is retold in A Life Reborn and Renewed, a book edited by Ty G. Busch, who was allowed by Gross to reprise his life story again.
Gross lived with his family in the Carpathian Mountains of Czechoslovakia. When the Germans invaded during World War II, he and his family, including his five brothers and sister, were first sent to live in a Jewish ghetto and then to Auschwitz. While he and his siblings survived, his parents and extended family all perished.
A teen when all this occurred, Gross tells of being treated worse than cattle — starved, beaten, and forced to slave away in the bitter cold with little clothing to keep him warm. But what disturbed him the most was how his fellow man could stand by and do nothing while Jews suffered. “I shall never be able to comprehend the uncaring inaction of the German civilians, as well as the Austrian, Polish, Ukrainian, and hundreds of other people, especially the women and young people that saw us pleading, as we were near death, for food or water,” Gross writes. “Some of them even laughed…”
Hard to read for its disturbing subject matter, Gross’ story is made even more difficult by the lack of actual editing by Busch. The writing is repetitive, and the manuscript is littered with typos and prose that doesn’t always make sense. A rambling personal afterword from Busch that ends with a note saying he hopes he can wait to file for bankruptcy also makes no sense and casts yet another cloud over Gross’ turbulent story.
While Gross’ story of the Holocaust is worthy of being told again and again, Busch does him and readers a disservice by not cleaning up the writing. Readers interested in a Holocaust survivor’s memoir should opt for a better-edited account.
Also available as an ebook.