cover image Europa, Europa

Europa, Europa

Solomon Perel, Shlomo Perel, Perel. John Wiley & Sons, $35 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-471-17218-5

Perel's involving if vexing memoir, dramatized in a film of the same name, deals with the years the author spent hiding his Jewish identity. In 1935, the Perel family, German Jews, emigrated to Poland because of Hitler's anti-Semitic laws. After Poland was invaded in 1939, his parents urged the then 16-year-old author and his 19-year-old brother, Isaac, to escape before a roundup of Jews took place. Soon separated from Isaac, the author assumed the identity of a racially pure German when he was detained by the invading army. So successful was his deception that the German officers permitted him to work as a translator and facilitated his transfer to an elite school for Hitler youth. Although the author was troubled by concealing his ancestry, he argues that he had no other choice. Perel was aware that his parents and sister had been forced into a ghetto, but he contends, despite the four years he spent living with German army officers, that he was unaware of the existence of the death camps (where his family perished) until after the war. Perel was later reunited with his brother and fought with the Israeli army. He is now a Tel Aviv businessman. Photos not seen by PW. (June)