Alex's Wake is a tale of two parallel journeys undertaken seven decades apart. In the spring of 1939, Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt were two of more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis, the saddest ship afloat (New York Times). Turned away from Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the St. Louis returned to Europe, a stark symbol of the world's indifference to the gathering Holocaust. The Goldschmidts disembarked in France, where they spent the next three years in six different camps before being shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz.
In the spring of 2011, Alex's grandson, Martin Goldsmith, followed in his relatives' footsteps on a six-week journey of remembrance and hope, an irrational quest to reverse their fate and bring himself peace. Alex's Wake movingly recounts the detailed histories of the two journeys, the witnesses Martin encounters for whom the events of the past are a vivid part of a living present, and an intimate, honest attempt to overcome a tormented family legacy.
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READ IT! READ IT ! READ IT!
It was a truely wonderful journey.
The author was able to find out about his ancestors even though it had been many years since their deaths.
As a fellow Jew, the authors unending challenge to be outraged or forgiving. This was the first author I read that spoke to my own feelings of hatred and understanding. It is the single thing that makes this book unforgettable every step of the way.
I was on an emotional rollercoaster as the author worked through his own reactions. But it furthered my own journey.
I am so glad that I heard the author on NPR. I will be looking into his other books.
- E. J. Zell