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A Train Near Magdeburg: A Teacher's Journey into the Holocaust, and the reuniting of the survivors and liberators, 70 years on Paperback – September 4, 2016
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- "Buy this book. Read it. Share it. It's worth the time and expense to lose yourself in something that never should have happened. You owe it to yourself to immerse yourself in this journey."
- "The story of the end of the Holocaust and the Nazi regime told from a very different and precise angle. First-hand accounts from Jewish survivors and the US soldiers that secured their freedom. Gripping."
- "If you have any trepidation about reading a book on the Holocaust, this review is for you. [Matthew Rozell] masterfully conveys the individual stories of those featured in the book in a manner that does not leave the reader with a sense of despair, but rather a sense of purpose."
- "Extraordinary research into an event which needed to be told. I have read many books about the Holocaust and visited various museums but had not heard reference to this train previously. The fact that people involved were able to connect, support and help heal each other emotionally was amazing."
- "This was a fantastic book! The only one I've read where rescuers and survivors meet! I have recommended it to others before I even finished it!"
- "Excellent book, with a winning combination of history and eyewitness accounts of heroes in World War II. I love how the author researched so thoroughly .Some of the heroes were American GIs and some were Jewish victims and even children. A story worth reading, and remembering ....so that it never happens again."
- "A compelling story that stands out amongst the many other books on history as being one that truly captures the human element of the story; not just dates and statistics, but real people, real stories.Truly wonderful to read both sides of the tale, those who were rescued and those who rescued."
- "It is a MUST--Very well written, the author describes his research of one of the most tragic period of the modern era. The encounter between American soldiers and the Jewish prisoners on a train to death is especially moving. Reading the testimonies of the survivors as well as those of the liberators is amazing and very accurate. Mr. Rozell has done intensive work and managed to bring the survivors and the liberators to meet after more than fifty years--just before it would have been too late."
- "Incredible research went into this book.Thoroughly enjoyed reading this and so sad to know we are soon to lose this entire generation. So hope we never forget them and what they all went through.What a blessing the author is to have written this and brought these people together after so many years. What healing this has given the survivors and military men."
- "A wonderful story into humanity and the love of history. Teachers and their lessons are so valuable to our youth. Matthew Rozell is to be commended for his passion to the truth in history. I learned so much from reading his book."
- "Mr. Rozell travels 'back to the future' of people who were not promised a tomorrow; neither the prisoners nor the troops knew what horrors the next moment would bring. He captures the parallel experience of soldiers fighting ruthless Nazism and the ruthless treatment of Jewish prisoners."
- "Reading this story is exceptionally rewarding because it is not only a history lesson; the author tells the story through not only the annals of history, but by personally engaging with the characters of the story, in real time. This is a story and a personal journey and well worth the read."
- "As an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker I am always looking for good stories; stories that move the heart as well as the mind. This book does that in spades. From the first page to the last it rivets you to the passion of the author's journey and to the story of the people of whom he writes about. This story is a shining example of the good that people can do to help their fellow man. It is a story of a man who has followed his heart and mind to accomplish great things for others."-Michael J. Edwards, Searching For Augusta (PBS)
About the Author
MATTHEW ROZELL is an award-winning history teacher, author, blogger and speaker. He has been featured as the ABC World News 'Person of the Week' and has had his work filmed for CBS News, NBC Learn, the Israeli Broadcast Authority, the New York State United Teachers, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Most recently, he is the recipient of the New York State Education Department's Yavner Teaching Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching the Holocaust and Human Rights. Visit his blog at TeachingHistoryMatters.com.
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In July 2001, history teacher Matt Rozel initiated a project to create testimoniews of World War II veterans, as part of an course to teach history to his students. When interviewing Carol Walsh, he learned of the story about how they came to a place where there was a long train of boxcars. As it turned out, it was full of concentration camp victims, transported from Bergen-Belsen to an unkown location. Unbeknownst to them, they were scheduled to be blown up on a bridge spanning the Elbe. But the Americans intervened, and the German SS guards had left the night before. They were free.
This is how it all started.
Matthew Rozell put this story on his website and thought nothing of it. However, he was suddenly contacted by a 'child survivor', who found his website and decided to contact him. This sat things in motion: Matthew Rozell was contacted by more and more survivors and decided to set up a reunion, to get the liberators and the people they liberated in contact.
This book describes the experience of not only Matthew Rozell, but the survivors and their liberators. Matthew wanted to do justice of the narrative by the Holocaust, as evidenced by this microcosmic event of the liberation of the train in the backdrop of the vastness of the macrocosm of the Holocaust. He utilizes the voices of those who were there, both f the surviviors and their liberators.
This book gives a dramatic and emotional account of how the lives of people - both survivors and liberators - were impacted by the events. It gives a good overview of the impact of the Holocaust in the eyes of simple people who just happened to be Jewish, but were people all the way.
The book is roughly divided in three parts, glued together into the narrative of the author. The first part deals with the Holocaust, the experiences for the people involved. The second part deals with their Liberators, how they experienced the discovery of the train. And the third part deals with the effort from Matthew Rozell, who set up the first reunion and the many more that were to follow, giving the survivors the chance to thank their liberators.
One moght think why this book should be read: there are so many books about the Holocaust and yes, we know it happened. But in no book that I have read up to this day, the story comes to live in such a personal way. How the lives of innocent people were impacted, what they went through and how they were formed by their experience. By zooming in on this particular event, you get to know what it was like - not only for the victims, but also for their liberators.
Or, as quoted in the book: It is important to have the past in front of you - not in the rearview as one moves forward.
Beautifully written, Matthew Rozell's book, "A Train near Magdeburg", poignantly recounts the first hand accounts of a group of Holocaust survivors, the American soldiers that liberated them, and the happenstance that led a teacher from a small town, heart set on conveying the lesson that the past is not impermanent, to bring them together, in celebration and in healing, decades later.
Some I have recommended this book to have admitted hesitance about reading a book on the Holocaust, given the heaviness of the topic. Indeed, like a personal trauma we are averse to revisiting, examining the atrocities of the Holocaust inevitably leads us to confront uncomfortable truths. However, the author masterfully conveys the individual stories of those featured in the book in a manner that does not leave the reader with a sense of despair, but rather a sense of purpose.
Indeed, Matthew Rozell lays out the narratives in this book in a way that teaches the reader about the bigger history of the Holocaust while simultaneously humanizing it. In particular, the way the stories are told, not only make the book hard to put down, but also enable the reader to connect and draw similarities to the individuals portrayed. As a result, the reader is left considering the significance of these stories and the powerful lessons they impart, such as as the bounds of human resilience, and the horrifying, profoundly unjust and dangerous nature of not only intolerance, but indifference to intolerance.
Im sum, this book is a call to a greater purpose. It is not enough to say that we won't forget the hatred the Holocaust brought to bear. Understanding how horrible intolerance is or can be makes little difference if we sit idly by in its presence. Indifference has been famously deemed by Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, to be the opposite of love. Lest we become or remain indifferent.
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Life was so difficult and terrifying to the people of Europe and no country was...Read more
First person accounts from both survivors and solders and they get to meet many years later!