Who Shall Live?: The Wilhelm Bachner Story

Kathleen Lee, Author, Samuel Oliner, Author, Samuel P. Oliner, Joint Author
Kathleen Lee, Author, Samuel Oliner, Author, Samuel P. Oliner, Joint Author Academy Chicago Publishers $25 (285p) ISBN 978-0-89733-437-2
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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In 1941, Wilhelm Bachner, a Polish Jewish engineer, escaped the Warsaw ghetto and, posing as a gentile, landed a job as supervisor with a German architectural firm. Armed with a pass that enabled him to enter and leave the ghetto as an Aryan, he rescued 50 Polish Jews, supplying them with false identity papers and work permits. He assigned some to his firm's work crews; others were given office jobs; still others he placed in hiding. His remarkable story unfolds with the rich texture of a novel in this meticulously researched chronicle. Bachner, who survived harrowing encounters with Nazi SS interrogators, helped his wife and his father escape the Warsaw ghetto, but his mother, brother and sister were swallowed up in the Nazi death machine. Oliner, project director of Humboldt State University's Altruistic Personality and Pro-Social Behavior Institute in California, and Lee, a Humboldt political scientist, interviewed Bachner and his wife in 1983; the couple had emigrated to California in 1951 (they both died in 1991). Drawing on interviews with relatives, the people rescued and archival research, the authors add a stirring chapter to documented Jewish resistance to the Holocaust. Photos. (Dec.)
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