THREE HOMELANDS: Memories of a Jewish Life in Poland, Israel, and America

Norman Salsitz, Author with Stanley Kaish. Syracuse Univ. $39.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-8156-0734-2

"Revenge! Revenge! Take Revenge!" Those were the last words Isak Saleschutz cried after being shot by Nazis in 1942. The youngest of his nine children, Salsitz took his father's words to heart. For a Jewish boy in war-torn Poland, simply staying alive was a form of revenge. Salsitz spent most of the war hiding in the woods, often with an older brother, and cheating death more than once. Passing as Catholic after the war, he achieved a high rank in the national security force, from which he was able to secretly help fellow Jews—another form of revenge, against virulent Polish anti-Semitism. Even after settling in the United States, Salsitz continued to heed his father's words. Sixty years after the war's end, Salsitz's animosity toward those who killed his family and destroyed the world he knew for the first 17 years of his life is potent. But anger makes only occasional—though memorable—appearances in this, his fourth memoir (after A Jewish Boyhood in Poland). What makes these vignettes worth reading is the sense of place Salsitz and Rutgers professor emeritus Kaish evoke, the matter-of-fact tone in which they describe the horrors Salsitz lived through, and the way the characters seem to spring off the pages. The Nazis and compliant Poles might have destroyed the physical reminders of Salsitz's youth, but here he brings them back to life. 54 photos. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
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