One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler's Europe

One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler's Europe

One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler's Europe

One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler's Europe

Synopsis

Through compelling personal accounts and family correspondence, One Step Ahead documents Alfred Feldman's harrowing flight into exile as he and his family fled the pogroms that flooded across Nazi-occupied Europe. It is a memoir of horror and hope recounted by a man who survived the organized terror of Hitler's "Final Solution" as it destroyed entire generations of European Jewish life within ten catastrophic years in the mid-twentieth century. Feldman's memoir conveys the searing pain that has never left him, while demonstrating the triumphant humanity of a survivor.

Feldman vividly describes the impact of the escalating anti-Semitic hatred and violence in Germany during the 1930s, the impact of the notorious Nuremberg Laws in 1935, and the terrifying Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938. By age sixteen, Feldman was living with his parents and three younger sisters in Antwerp, Belgium, during the 1939 German invasions of Poland, marking the start of World War II. In the face of increasing persecution,Feldman's extended family scattered over the globe in a desperate attempt to remain one step ahead of their Nazi pursuers.

Recalling his life on the run, Feldman describes what few survivors have chosen to write about: the Vichy raids of August 26, 1942; the French labor brigades; the Comite Dubouchage; and life in supervised residence in France under the Italians. While in the south of France, Feldman endured food shortages and Nazi anti-Semitic measures, beginning with work camps and culminating in the deportation and ultimate death of his mother and sisters at Auschwitz.

To evade the Germans, Feldman and his father fled into the Italian Alps in September of 1943, hiding between theAllies and the Germans. Aided by local villagers, the Feldmans survived precariously for over a year and a half, along with other Jewish refugees, until that region was liberated. Only then, and only gradually, did Feldman manage

Excerpt

Although World War II began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, it had little impact in the west until the following spring. What Americans call the “phony war” ended abruptly on May 10, 1940, when German armored divisions invaded and quickly overran Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. General Heinz Guderian's XIX Panzer Corps smashed into France two days later, and Holland surrendered two days after that. The Belgians asked for an armistice on May 27, the day after the British ordered the evacuation of their troops from Dunkirk. France did not hold out much longer. The French government fled first to Tours and then to Bordeaux. The Germans entered Paris on June 14, the government of Paul Reynaud fell on the sixteenth, and the newly appointed premier, Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain, informed his countrymen the following day that France must cease hostilities. The armistice was signed on the twenty-second and put into effect on the twenty-fifth. The Germans celebrated their most astounding success of the war.

Sixteen-year-old Alfred Feldman was living with his parents and three younger sisters in Antwerp, Belgium, at the time of the German invasion. His parents, Paula and Joachim, were Polish Jews, the children of immigrants who had settled in Germany in search of a better life. His father represented a German firm in Belgium. On May 12, the Feldmans abandoned their comfortable house and possessions in Antwerp and joined well over a million refugees fleeing westward into France to escape the German onslaught. Among the refugees were an estimated forty thousand Jews. Most of them entered France without proper identification papers, passports, visas, or residence permits. Once in France, they joined some four mil-

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