An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust

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9780520225312: An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust
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Two men, who meet and become good friends after enjoying successful adult lives in California, have experienced childhoods so tragically opposed that the two men must decide whether to talk about them or not. In 1944, 13-year-old Fritz was almost old enough to join the Hitler Youth in his German village of Kleinheubach. That same year in Tab, Hungary, 12-year-old Bernie was loaded onto a train with the rest of the village's Jewish inhabitants and taken to Auschwitz, where his whole family was murdered. How to bridge the deadly gulf that separated them in their youth, how not to allow the power of the past to separate them even now, as it separates many others, become the focus of their friendship, and together they begin the project of remembering.

The separate stories of their youth are told in one voice, at Bernat Rosner's request. He is able to retrace his journey into hell, slowly, over many sessions, describing for his friend the "other life" he has resolutely put away until now. Frederic Tubach, who must confront his own years in Nazi Germany as the story unfolds, becomes the narrator of their double memoir. Their decision to open their friendship to the past brings a poignancy to stories that are horrifyingly familiar. Adding a further and fascinating dimension is the counterpoint of their similar village childhoods before the Holocaust and their very different paths to personal rebirth and creative adulthood in America after the war.

Seldom has a memoir been so much about the present, as we see the authors proving what goodwill and intelligence can accomplish in the cause of reconciliation. This intimate story of two boys trapped in evil and destructive times, who become men with the freedom to construct their own future, has much to tell us about building bridges in our public as well as our personal lives.

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From the Inside Flap:

"I was very touched by the story beautifully told in An Uncommon Friendship. The pain and suffering brought on by the Holocaust is described in a riveting way. The book shows how a chance meeting followed by a deep friendship can lead to compassion, forgiveness, and understanding on a deeply personal level."—Barbara Boxer, United States Senator

"Fritz Tubach and Bernat Rosner perfectly link the abstract horror of the Nazi death machine with the harmless-seeming, rural somnolence of European village life in the '30s. An Uncommon Friendship is tangible, real, heart-breaking, awesome. This double memoir of a German youth and the Hungarian-Jewish youth he befriended in later life is absolutely unique and stunningly beautiful."—Carolyn See, author of The Handyman

"I read, admired and was gripped by the counterpoint memoirs of Bernie Rosner, a Hungarian-born survivor of Auschwitz and Mauthausen, and Fritz Tubach, the son of a Nazi German army officer. Factual, measured, unemphatic, sharply evocative, their linked stories prove extraordinarily moving. An original document not to be missed and an absorbing read."—Eugen Weber, author of The Hollow Years

About the Author:

Bernat Rosner retired in 1993 from his position as General Counsel of the Safeway Corporation in Oakland, California. Frederic C. Tubach is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of California, Berkeley, and coauthor of Germany, 2000 Years, Volume III (with Gerhart Hoffmeister, second edition, 1992). Sally Patterson Tubach is author of Memoirs of a Terrorist (1996).

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