Death March Escape, by Jack J. Hersch

The full title reads – Death March Escape: The remarkable story of a man who twice escaped the Nazi Holocaust.
I would say “remarkable” is an understatement in this context. There have only been a handful of recorded cases of prisoners escaping from concentration camps during WWII and not all of those who managed to escape, ever made it to freedom. Many were hunted down, found and killed; many perished on their own, without food and shelter.
Which is why the story of David Hersch, a man who escaped a death march – got captured but somehow not killed – then escaped again – was taken in by kind and courageous people – and lived to tell his tale… is unbelievable!
And yet that is the story we are fortunate to read in this amazing book. I was going to say “wonderful”, but I’m always hesitant to use such words when talking about horrific events. Yet Jack Hersch, David’s son, wrote a truly wonderful book, in the way that it tells the full story without skipping details or minimizing the horror, yet it’s almost a light read. In other words, you can read this book and still sleep well at night, compared to reading some other books on the subject that leave you with nightmares for days and nights to come.
I loved the way that the book was framed as both the story of David’s life and time in the camps, but also as Jack reconnecting with his father. In fact, the idea of writing the book came to Jack after he happened upon a photograph of his father on the memorial website for the Mauthausen concentration camp. A photograph that Jack had never seen before, of a man who used to be his father before the horrors of WWII. This discovery prompted Jack on a quest to find out as much as he could about David Hersch, and in a way to find out more about himself.
I highly recommend this book to a variety of people! If you’re interested in WWII – this book is for you. If you’re interested in the Holocaust but are afraid of the more harrowing stories – this book is for you. If you’re interested in stories about the strength of the human spirit – this book is for you. If you’re interested in stories of survival against unimaginable odds – this book is for you.
Finally, if you’ve ever wondered if your family has any secrets or fascinating tales to tell – this book is definitely for you, as it will spark curiosity in you to find out more about your own family.

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