Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
Rebuilt from Broken Glass: A German Jewish Life Remade in America (Shofar Supplements in Jewish Studies) Hardcover – July 15, 2017
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Rebuilt From Broken Glass is, after all, not simply a memoir about family and faith, but a work of history, written by an eyewitness.(Kevin Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer 2017-08-11)
About the Author
Born in 1926, Fritz Bernhard (now Fred) Behrend is a retired businessman and noted raconteur who frequently lectures on his experiences during and after the Holocaust. Behrend was twelve when his family fled Germany after his father's arrest and detention in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1938. While serving in the U.S. Army, Behrend's skills as a translator led to positions overseeing captured soldiers being retrained to lead postwar Germany, as well as working with Wernher von Braun, the eventual catalyst for the U.S. space program. Behrend later owned a successful air conditioner and television business in New York. He lives in Voorhees, New Jersey.
Larry Hanover was an award-winning reporter and editor for The Times of Trenton (New Jersey). He has written on subjects as diverse as the anthrax crisis after the 9/11 attacks, education, politics, and professional sports. Hanover currently works as an editor and writer and serves on Temple University's adjunct journalism faculty.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The harrowing events that defined Behrend’s formative years are chronicled in an engrossing new book, Rebuilt from Broken Glass: A German Jewish Life Remade in America, which was co-authored with Larry Hanover.
In the book, we learn about the years leading up to Holocaust as witnessed though the eyes of a 12-year old child, who led a life of innocence and privilege — a life shattered by the Nazis, and eventually Kristallnacht (“the night of broken glass”).
Young Fred grew up in Ludenscheid, a city in western Germany. He vividly recalls the parades and sharpshooting contests, where he was thrilled by the goose-stepping Nazi stormtroopers giving a proud “Heil Hitler” salute to the cheering crowd. His parents stood in silence, under banners emblazoned with swastikas, never uttering a word of disapproval — for fear of being reported to the authorities by some anonymous informant.
Why Divergent Thinking Is Critical to Judaism
In those years, Fred’s father owned a financially successful ladies’ silk and linens store, called Robert Stern. The shop was later looted and destroyed by Nazi thugs — on Kristallnacht.
Prior to that ill-fated night, the family lived in a compound reminiscent of the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port — but on a smaller scale — replete with a gardener, cook, maid and chauffeur. Incidences of antisemitism were initially only a small part of Fred’s early life, but over a short period of time, they became overt — to the point that one of his boyhood neighbors threw stones at him, accompanied with shouts of “Judenschwein” (“Jewish pig”).
At first, the Behrends were immobilized by disbelief at to what was happening in their beloved Germany. The family had lived in Germany for more than 400 years, and never dreamed that a highly civilized country could undergo such a hate-filled transformation against fellow Germans. Fred’s father even received the Cross of Honor for having served on the front lines of defense in World War I.
But none of that mattered to the growing menace of an irrational and infectious hatred of Jews by their fellow countrymen — a hatred fueled by the propaganda machine of Joseph Goebbels, which blamed Germany’s woes on the Jews.
In September 1935, the Nazis enacted the Nuremberg Laws. Those laws excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship, and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with Germans or persons with German-related blood.
From that time, it was but a short leap to the “beginning of the end” of life in Germany for the Behrends and all other Jews. During Kristallnacht, which occurred in 1938, Fred’s father was arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. That terrible night was the darkest moment in young Fred’s life.
Fred and his family were forced to flee what had been their family’s homeland for more than four centuries; luckily, the family eventually made its way to the safe harbor of the United States.
Undeterred by a tragic past, Fred Behrend was determined to gather the shards of what had been his life, and craft a new future for himself and his family. At age 18, he joined the US Army, and was assigned as a companion German translator to the father of the US space program, Wernher von Braun.
After the war Behrend raised a family and became a successful businessman. Today, Fred is retired, and has embarked upon chronicling the history of his family as a way of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations — so that they learn why it is important to “never forget.”
Fred Behrend’s family loved their country. They were well respected in their community. His father was a highly-decorated World War I German veteran. Yet, that night a series of events began which took his father away to a concentration camp, then they ultimately moved on to new lives, first briefly in Cuba, then in the United States.
When I read the book a few weeks ago, I found myself thankful that we live in the time and place that we do, but concerned about the growing boldness of racism and white supremacy in this country. Fast forward to the days post Charlottesville, and these concerns are much stronger.
Fred and his family lost everything: family, friends, their money and business. They had to start their lives over in strange countries. But this story is ultimately a tale of exodus to freedom. Their lives were changed forever, but they had each other, their faith, and ultimately, their freedom.
When speaking of his father, Fred said that he was more worried about the possibility that America might turn against its Jews in the way that Hitler did initially, through legal means. What happened in a highly intellectual, civil country like Germany only reinforced that point. To them, Germany was a more cultured place than the United States, and if it could happen in Germany, it could happen in the US too.
My son is also 12 years old. As a parent, I can’t imagine him ever having to suffer through what Fred did. I know I would do anything to protect him. And right now, I believe that means educating my children about the way people should treat each other and ensuring that goodness and love win out over hate.
Thank you, Fred Behrend, for sharing your story with the world and Larry Hanover for doing such a wonderful job bringing the pages to life