Amsterdam Publishers, the only publisher in the world focusing on Holocaust stories told by Jewish authors, will launch its 100th book in 2024.
The first memoir to inaugurate such a memorable year is The Engineers: A Memoir of Survival Through World War II in Poland and Hungary by Henry Reiss, which is scheduled to be released on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Below is more information on this family chronicle.
The ability to find light, positivity and humanity when surrounded by hatred, prejudice and fear is an invaluable gift. At times, it can be the only thing that keeps a person alive—representing something left to enjoy in life, an ultimate reason to hold on. Such complex human behavior shines through in The Engineers, an incredible story of a Jewish family’s survival.
Reiss’s memories are vivid: the daily struggles of disguising their Jewish identity, the constant fear of betrayal and the tragic demises of numerous family members—everything is reported with care and precision. And yet, this memoir still manages to ooze hope, unwavering determination, and, unexpectedly, beauty.
The memoir overflows with delicate depictions of nature, underlining this family’s determination to find solace amidst unimaginable horrors. Images of intimate happiness in enjoying the smallest joys of life and scenes of atrocious and blatant antisemitism frequently come together.
Cheerfully picking ripe cherries in June, constant antisemitic attacks on Jewish university students, peacefully observing meadows on warm autumn days as well as snowy landscapes, treacherous snowstorms while fleeing from Poland to Slovakia and Hungary—a sequence of contrasting episodes contribute to creating a narrative as authentic and varied as only life itself can be.
Weaving together threads of joy, despair and relief—and narrated by a Holocaust survivor himself—The Engineers is not only an extremely valuable historical account, but a raw, living portrayal of human nature with particular focus on the spirit of adaptability and resilience of the members of the Reiss family.
Holocaust survivor and engineer Henry Reiss died in 1991, and his children and grandchildren made sure his important memoirs are now seeing the light. The book is part of the series Holocaust Survivor Memoirs consisting of 18 gripping memoirs by survivors.