One night in January 1943, Rosie’s husband Moritz, a member of the French Resistance, is hauled away by the Gestapo in Marseilles, never to be seen again. Rosie is left alone, highly pregnant, with their two sons, Erwin, age 8, and Jacky, age 6. Unable to locate her husband, who later will die in Auschwitz, Rosie decides to escape from Nazi-occupied France to Switzerland, determined to save her boys and herself. They board a train to Saint-Claude, on the Swiss border, carrying false French documents and, in Rosie’s bag, diamonds embedded in a bar of laundry soap. The journey begins, and all the danger comes into play. The first obstacle is language because Rosie, a native of Hungary, speaks no French. So she pretends to be mute and clever Erwin speaks instead of her. In a world where all the fundamentals of human brotherhood have crumbled, they meet evil people, but also some who are good, who show compassion and help her. After an exhausting trek through the snow, the three sneak across the border into Switzerland, but their difficulties are not over. Rosie is taken to an internment camp and separated from her children. They are reunited only a year later.
This remarkable, moving tale of courage is written years later by Erwin, who is none other than the author. But it is told in Rosie’s voice and from her perspective. With boundless sensitivity and tenderness, Mayer gets right inside his mother’s mind to recount this amazing journey of survival.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
Read this book
and tell others about it: it is a quality book.
In the crowded genre of Second World War memoirs, former Israeli ambassador Yitzchak Mayer has managed to create the unexpected – a lyrical, eloquent account of his family’s escape from Europe that’s written as historical fiction.
The narrative merges facts, dreams, and memories into a suspenseful tale that is beautiful despite the horrors that the family encounter...There are many Holocaust memoirs in print today, but this one stands out because of its presentation.
Jewish Book Council
This is the
essence of the Holocaust, and perhaps, as the human condition taken to an
extreme, this is life itself, replete with contradictions and painful to the
point of horror, or absurdity… This is a book written by a person who loves
people, yet who has every reason to hate them.
mature literary work, praiseworthy … The author’s impulse is to tell the story
the way that it happened, and to memorialize a remarkable mother ... But
through her, [the book] also illuminates the uniqueness of the author … [The
narrative] has a breathtaking flow … A genuine artistic endeavor.
Prof. Hillel Weiss, Makor Rishon
recommended. Rosie Mayer will be branded into your memory.
A book like
this has never been written … unique. This is an almost breathless stream of
consciousness, in which facts, memories, dream fragments and thoughts are woven
together into a single delicate, sensitive tapestry, with latent suspense … The
author recreates a conflicted and intense feminine awareness…in a marvelous
manner ... Thrilling and out of the ordinary.
Mayer’s story is not only more important, but also better than many others.
More important because he presents us … with a reality that this and coming
generations are incapable of even imagining … Not only important, but also a
good book … that penetrates the heroine’s inner world … A great love story … [and]
an appealing read … with an element of a detective novel.
The memories of
Yitzchak Mayer, a man gifted with a discerning eye, eloquence and courage, a
compassionate heart, restraint, responsibility and deep wisdom. His clever and
inspired writing … brightly illuminates the dark in which unseen chapters of
Jewish existence occurred in the modern world, before the State of Israel was
established. This superb storyteller creates a whole world and skillfully
relates the painful chronicle of his family from a totally surprising
perspective … Unreservedly recommended to anyone interested in the endless
complexity of the Jewish family, and in engrossing documentation of the days of
the Second World War.