Just when we think we’ve read all the Holo­caust books that we can, Bernard Rosner and Frederic Tubach come up with a book that almost defies def­i­n­ition. It cer­tainly is about the Holo­caust, but it is so much more. It is a short book and in its way, an almost quiet book. Mostly it is a story about living in spite of death’s remarkable odds. How does a young lad from Hungary live beyond the deaths of his family members and the memory of the death camps? How does a young man who was a member of the Hitler Youth, and who admits to stealing a candle from a Jewish home just days after the Kristall­nacht, find his way out of such darkness?

The story of the paths taken and how they even­tually cross is told for both men in the voice of Tubach. A chance meeting between their wives brought the men together in the relaxed setting of sub­urban northern Cal­i­fornia. The two men shared a love of music, art and lit­er­ature and what developed was a friendship steeped in respect and admi­ration. They had been friends for many years when, after vis­iting the Holo­caust Museum in Wash­ington, D.C., Bernie knew he needed to tell his story, and who better to tell it to than his friend, Fritz. As Bernie reached backward to his most painful mem­ories, Fritz, too, revealed the texture of his own youth from the opposite side of the same years.

This is a book about the bridge these two men built out of their friendship. They built it with the mortar of their friendship and their shared hope for a civ­i­lized world. It is a bridge built to span one of humankind’s worst divides and it is a book that asks the reader to cross that bridge with them.

Ten years ago, when this review was written, neither author could have imagined how the pub­li­cation of their book would impact their lives and the lives of those readers so remarkably touched by An Uncommon Friendship. Then in 2010, in an effort to share that impact,  the book was repub­lished as An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holo­caust, With a New Epi­logue. It con­tinues to be an uncommon friendship and a most uncommon book. 2/​1/​2012.

 

 

  Fred­erick Tubach and Bernard Rosner Uni­versity of Cal­i­fornia Press

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