The Last Jews in Berlin by Leonard Gross Book Summary
The incredible but little-known true story of the Jews who went underground in Nazi Berlin at the height of World War II—and lived to tell the tale
When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, approximately one hundred sixty thousand Jews called Berlin home. By 1943 less than five thousand remained in the nation’s capital, the epicenter of Nazism, and by the end of the war, that number had dwindled to one thousand. All the others had died in air raids, starved to death, committed suicide, or been shipped off to the death camps.
In this captivating and harrowing book, Leonard Gross details the real-life stories of a dozen Jewish men and women who spent the final twenty-seven months of World War II underground, hiding in plain sight, defying both the Gestapo and, even worse, Jewish “catchers” ready to report them to the Nazis in order to avoid the gas chambers themselves. A teenage orphan, a black-market jewel trader, a stylish young designer, and a progressive intellectual were among the few who managed to survive. Through their own resourcefulness, bravery, and at times, sheer luck, these Jews managed to evade the tragic fates of so many others.
Gross has woven these true stories of perseverance into a heartbreaking, suspenseful, and moving account with the narrative force of a thriller. Compiled from extensive interviews, The Last Jews in Berlin reveals these individuals’ astounding determination, against all odds, to live each day knowing it could be their last.
“The author’s skillful selection of detail and his narrative drive have created the type of footnote [to history] that illuminates an entire subject.” —The New York Times Book Review
“An historian’s book, a storyteller’s book, and—most of all—a reader’s book . . . All the real-life stuff of a John le Carré novel.” —Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“A tour de force . . . A consummately suspenseful narrative . . . remindful, in [its] exquisite detail, of Capote’s In Cold Blood.” —Los Angeles Times
Leonard Gross is a journalist and author. Much of his reportage was done for Look magazine, where he served for twelve years as senior editor, Latin American correspondent, European editor, and West Coast editor. Gross has authored, coauthored, or ghostwritten a total of twenty-two books, including both novels and nonfiction. He currently lives in Bend, Oregon.