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The Jew with the Iron Cross: A Record of Survival in WWII Russia Paperback – June 9, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (June 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595379877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595379873
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,920,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Georg Rauch is a professional artist who has exhibited extensively in Europe, the United States, and Mexico. For the last thirty years, Rauch and his wife, Phyllis, have made their home overlooking Lake Chapala in the central highlands of Mexico.

www.georgrauch.com

More About the Author

Georg Rauch was born in Salzburg, Austria on Valentine's Day 1924. Because of his Jewish blood, he was treated as a second class citizen, and ignored by his teachers at school. He spent his youth helping his mother to feed and care for the Jews she was hiding in their Viennese attic. He also taught himself Morse code, to cook, to build radios and to play the harmonica. All of these would come in very handy when he was sent as a foot soldier and telegraphist to the Russian Front during WWII. His memoir, The Jew with the Iron Cross, is based on his experiences as a Jewish soldier in Hitler's army and as a prisoner of the Russians. The inspiration for the book are the 80 plus letters he wrote to his mother from the Russian trenches. Following the war Rauch spent 1 1/2 years in an alpine TB sanatorium after it was discovered he had contracted TB while a prisoner of war. Rauch had drawn and painted from childhood,and after leaving the TB hospital, he began to dedicate himself professionally to what he had always loved best - painting. He was supported by grants from the Austrian government and had numerous one man shows in the European capitols. After meeting his wife, Phyllis, he moved to the United States in 1966 and continued to exhbit in New York, California, and Toronto. After a first trip to Mexico in 1967, Rauch exhibited regularly in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. In 1976 Georg and Phyllis moved permanently to Mexico where Georg continued to show all over the country and was honored with various large museum retrospectives. Georg's memoir was published in the summer of 2006 and he died in November of the same year. The Jew with the Iron Cross has been translated into Spanish and won a prize for life stories awarded by Writer's Digest magazine in 2007.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
It was very well written and easy to read.
Amazon Customer
In this sense, the book could be summarized as a story of survival under the most adverse of circumstances.
Matthew Ingram
The telling was lively, and I highly recommend the book.
Loraine Carlson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Ingram on August 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Jew with the Iron Cross, by George Rauch, is a well-written and well-translated (by Phyllis Rauch) personal account of World War II. The author is part Jewish, and as a young boy he helps his Jewish mother hide relatives and other refugees in their Austrian home. Under the circumstances of WWII Austria, however, he finds himself a teenager forced into the infantry of the German war machine who then struggles to both survive and retain his identity. In this sense, the book could be summarized as a story of survival under the most adverse of circumstances. However, the book is much more than that.

In its personal, first-hand account of the battles, both inner and outer, confronted by this young man as he struggles to make sense of the multiple contradictions brought on by the war, this book is also about the dehumanizing and depersonalizing nature of war. Through the author's experiences, from conscription to the army in Vienna to killing opposing soldiers on the Russian front, we are reminded of the way in which war erases personhood and individual identity. The individual Russians, after all, may be just like him, captives of circumstance forced into a conflict they do not wholly understand and do not support. War, waged by governments and states, does not consider the individual sensibilities of those persons who will do the fighting. More importantly, once in a state of war, individuals lose many of the luxuries of decisionmaking, choice, agency, and autonomy that may have existed prior to the war. Starker still, at the front lines of wars, boys become soldiers, soldiers become killers, and the best chance of survival lies in becoming one of the best killers out there. And, in a tragic stroke of irony, those who fight the hardest to survive seem to lose the most upon survival.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was a great book! It was very well written and easy to read. I have been reading about WWII all my life(and I am 43) and this book is up there amongst some of the best that I have read. I have read numerous autobiographies and this one is upfront, honest and very revealing of His(Georg's) life and what extreme things He had to endure. I found it every bit as enjoying as The Forgotten Soldier. This book was written to establish a form of closure for Georg, and I know you will not be dissapointed in buying it. Along with the help of His Great and longtime partner(wife...)Phyllis, they made this extaordinary accomplishment come to life in book form. Thanks for sharing this with us all. A+

Regards,

Michael

"k9mike"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Loraine Carlson on July 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
This engrossing first-hand account of war on the horrendous Eastern Front of World War II presents a vivid picture of life in the German army as it waned in power and was eventually routed from Russia. At the time, the author was a young anti-war Viennese who was drafted into the German army when he reached his eighteenth birthday and was soon sent to the front. His letters home form a large part of the book, and together with the linking narrative they tell in breathtaking detail of his frequent escapes from death, sometimes by luck and often by quick-wittedness.

Peripherally, other aspects of the times come to light. Rauch was considered a Jew by the army because he had a Jewish grandmother. On this account he was not eligible for officer training, which was open to others at his educational level. This prejudice accounts for his being sent to the trenches so rapidly. We learn of his family, which was nonreligious but socially conscious, and their efforts to save Jews who were threatened by the Gestapo. And we also get glimpses of prewar Vienna and of the city under occupation, first by the Germans and then by the victorious Allies.

At the end I found myself amazed that anyone could live through so many harrowing experiences. The telling was lively, and I highly recommend the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Johnson on June 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Austrian draftee Georg Rauch did so well in Hitler's army that he earned an assignment to officer school. When Rauch told his commanding office he had to decline because he was 1/4 Jewish, he was sent instead to spend the remaninder of the war at the Russian front, miraculously escaping death several times and surviving to become a prominent artist.

A compelling story, beautifully told; so grippingly dramatic that, when I opened it merely to get a feel for what it was like, I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. It is also a story subtly infused with the love and respect for each other of a son and his mother, and of their graceful and indomitable spirits triumphing through horrific times.

The prose is supple and georgeous, thanks to the wondrous translation from the German by Rauch's American wife, Phyllis. A great story, compellingly told, and a very great treat to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Fournier on June 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Jew with the Iron Cross is a compelling read, one that drew me in from the first few pages. Georg Rauch emerges as endearing and resourceful. In his letters home to his mother, he exhibits a depth of character and emotional maturity beyond that expected of a 16-year-old boy. I particiularly enjoyed how his love of food ended up bettering his own lot and that of his fellow soldiers. This book made me laugh and made me cry. I highly recommend it.
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