In September, 1939, George Lucius Salton's boyhood in Tyczyn, Poland, was shattered by escalating violence and terror under German occupation. His father, a lawyer, was forbidden to work, but 11-year-old George dug potatoes, split wood, and resourcefully helped his family. They suffered hunger and deprivation, a forced march to the Rzeszow ghetto, then eternal separation when 14-year-old George and his brother were left behind to labor in work camps while their parents were deported in boxcars to die in Belzec. For the next three years, George slaved and barely survived in 10 concentration camps, including Rzeszow, Plaszow, Flossenburg, Colmar, Sachsenhausen, Braunschweig, Ravensbrck, and Wobbelin.
Cattle cars filled with skeletal men emptied into a train yard in Colmar, France. George and the other prisoners marched under the whips and fists of SS guards. But here, unlike the taunts and rocks from villagers in Poland and Germany, there was applause. "I could clearly hear the people calling: 'Shame! Shame!'... Suddenly, I realized that the people of Colmar were applauding us! They were condemning the inhumanity of the Germans!" Of the 500 prisoners of the Nazis who marched through the streets of Colmar in the spring of 1944, just 50 were alive one year later when the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division liberated the Wobbelin concentration camp on the afternoon of May 2, 1945. "I felt something stir deep within my soul. It was my true self, the one who had stayed deep within and had not forgotten how to love and how to cry, the one who had chosen life and was still standing when the last roll call ended."
©2002 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
I've read and interviewed many witnesses to the Holocaust about that time in their lives, and there is always another story that defies belief, both in humanity, and survival.
This is one of those stories, a very poetic one, too.
I just didn't stop listening, moist-eyed, until the end, when we learn how he finally shared his experiences with his children, after shielding them for most of their lives.
I was also one of those children whose parent had a terrible historical secret. It moves me so much when parents come around and open up.
He couldn't have written this book if it hadn't been for that reconciliation, and it's a gift to all of us.
Talk about "Never Again."
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