cover image Maybe Luck Isn't Just Chance

Maybe Luck Isn't Just Chance

Ruth Liepman. Northwestern University Press, $50 (125pp) ISBN 978-0-8101-1294-0

Noted Swiss literary agent Liepman recalls her youth in Germany before the Nazis came to power, the left-leaning political activism that drove her to flee to Holland and later Switzerland and the circumstances of her life during the war. Liepman helped to save many Jews from deportation and death in her work for the Swiss consul. She touches on some personal items, such as a love affair with a German man whom she had hoped would join her in Holland, a marriage of convenience to her first husband to gain a Swiss passport, an abortion that she regretted, her courtship and life with her second husband, and comments on her literary career and its highlights (she has been the European representative for such authors as Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger and Richard Wright). But the heart of her book is her memoirs of the war years. On a ski trip to Davos in 1942, Liepman heard a chilling revelation from a German officer on holiday who didn't realize she was a Jew: ""It's no laughing matter anymore. We are not sending Jews to tend the soil of Poland. We're talking about the Final Solution."" She tried to return to Holland to spread the warning, but the members of the Jewish council there whom she knew refused to believe her and felt she was ""a hysterical woman who only increased people's anxieties."" Although every Holocaust story is unique and remarkable, not every survivor merits a book, even when she is a well-loved literary figure. Liepman's account is of interest chiefly to students of the Holocaust and WWII history and to her admirers. (Jan.)