Children I did
In the proud affirmation, “Ich bin ein Jude (I am a Jew),” which he has taken as the title of his new book, Herb Brin has poured a lifetime of loving and fighting for his people.
With anguish, compassion, even fun and reverence, he has retraced the bitter road where decades ago, millions of Jews, penned and sealed into cattle cars, moved inexorably toward the gas ovens of Hitler’s Reich, which had turned Europe into a giant slaughterhouse.
Fun along such a journey? Encountering hostile (it seemed) Iraqis aboard a fleabag train heading for yesterday’s sorrows becomes an exercise in dark humor and warm friendship.
Boarding the now decrepit train at Istanbul, Brin relives not one murder on the Orient Express, but the killing of innocents, wearing – in life as in death – the yellow Star of David. As the train rolls through Greece, Yugoslavia and Austria, the legions of martyrs are once more pushed and prodded aboard as Nazi soldiers and their lackeys bark commands.
The dual journey of the present and the past (an unusual concept by the author) resumes on the “Chopin Express,” clicking off the miles along tracks of eternity to Poland and the ultimate of ultimates: Auschwitz. Along the way, Brin desperately searches for links to his and his people’s past. In the shtetl of Konin, where his and Barry Goldwater’s grandfathers worked and prayed, Brin finds that all traces of Jewish life and death, down to the cemetery, have been erased.