Defy The Darkness (Review)

One of the joys of browsing through shelves of used books is the discovery of a title that promises to be an exceptionally good read.  When I pulled out the copy of Defy The Darkness:  A Tale Of Courage In The Shadow Of Mengele, I knew this had to be a must-read book.  I missed whatever publicity, if any, that was done when this book was first published in 2001.  If there had been an author tour, I’m sorry I missed it.

Joe Rosenblum tells a gripping, first-hand tale of life as a Polish Jew under the thumb of Nazi occupation in his country. The story is at once a rare treasure and a moral adventure.  Not only did I discover what regular Concentration Camp inmates suffered, but I found a very noble young man who was full of courage and optimism.

The story unfolds in chronological order.  The first darkness descends right away, with Rosenblum’s description of refugees stripping the fruit from all of the trees in his mother’s apple orchard.  The reader is drawn into the eventual occupation and strangulation of Rosenblum’s hometown.  The conversion of Miedzyrzec, Poland into a Jewish Ghetto, similar to that of the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, is the backdrop for the first part of the book.

Through chutzpah and luck, the young man is able to travel outside his town to work for a compassionate Polish Gentile family.  Rosenblum becomes the major source of support for his family inside the Ghetto.  Because Rosenblum is a compassionate young man, he shares some of his food with Russian partisans and eventually belongs to a Soviet partisan underground group until he is captured by the Nazis.

Rosenblum goes on to somehow survive an ordeal of living in three death camps and a death march.  His strength is found in his nearly unshakeable positive belief that he would one day be free to raise a family and run a successful business. He passed on that hope through his unselfish efforts to save the lives of his fellow prisoners.

The most mind-boggling aspect of Rosenblum’s story involves several months of his labors in close quarters with the “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele.  Eventually, Joe Rosenblum goes under the knife of the demented doctor. Rosenblum became one of the few or possibly the only case in which Mengele worked to intentionally save someone’s life.  How this came about, is worth studying and pondering.

This book is the epic tale of an “Everyman” turning into a teen-hero.  It’s a story that transcends mere hope and positive thinking.  Rosenblum barely survived the Holocaust.  But a combination of the will to live, a dream of much better days, and some fortunate turns of events enabled him to live to tell about it.

If you can find a copy of this book, don’t hesitate to read and be moved to tears and inspiration by what you’ll find inside.

{Defy The Darkness: A Tale Of Courage In The Shadow Of Mengele, by Joe Rosenblum with David Kohn; Copyright 2001 by Praeger Publishers; ISBN:  0-275-96862-6}

Do Widzenia

The Blue Jay of Happiness places Defy The Darkness in the same category as Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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