Hank Brodt was born in 1927 in the Polish village of Boryslaw, Poland. His family was poor, headed by his mother; his father having died when he was but an infant. When his older siblings left home, Hank was placed in an orphanage where he stayed until his bar mitzvah at the age of 13 in 1939, just as the Germans were invading Poland. Sent to a series of Nazi concentration and labor camps, Hank saw the reality of Nazi atrocities, up close and personal, as friends and fellow inmates were worked to death, committed suicide, or were simply brutally murdered when they were no longer of any use to the regime.
Hank Brodt Holocaust Memoirs: A Candle and a Promise, written by his youngest daughter, Deborah Connelly, is Hank’s story. It’s not a story of survival, or of death, but a more or less matter of fact account of his life, and how, through hope, he was able to survive the horror of the holocaust, and create a new life for himself in America after the war.
This is a story lacking embellishment. Hank’s story, as told to the author, is a simple, yet profound, recitation of the life he led from childhood to the advanced age of 90. Loss, love, death, and redemption are described as events that took place. At times, Hank’s voice comes through loud and clear; it is through hope and strong will that we are able to endure. But, most of all, it is a story of the importance of remembering. We should never forget that ordinary people, through fear and prejudice, are capable of horrendous acts, but at the same time, even when faced with the darkness, some people retain the ability to show compassion.
This is a book that should be read by everyone. While it relates events that are more than seven decades in our past, we should never forget that such horror is always possible, and it’s only through hope and compassion, and knowledge, that we can forestall tragedy.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it five stars.