I inched toward the Allied lines less than a mile away, desperately trying to escape from the murderous Nazis.
Suddenly, I heard shouts of “Halt!” as several Nazi soldiers launched toward me from the side of the road. As I stood up, one of them grabbed my arm and demanded in German that I tell him who I was and where I was going.
A horrible thought flashed through my mind: After years of dangerous escapes, so close to liberation, would this be my end?
(from Determined, page 1)
Quick summary: Determined is the memoir of Holocaust survivor Avraham Perlmutter, who was only a boy when the Nazis arrived in his hometown of Vienna in 1938. Perlmutter describes how his parents sent him and his older sister, Thea, to live with family in the Netherlands to keep them safe. But it seems as though the Nazis follow him from hiding place to hiding place. Perlmutter pays homage to the men and women who put their lives on the line to save him and many other Jewish children, but it soon becomes obvious that his quick-thinking, intelligence, and of course, determination played an integral role in his survival.
Why I wanted to read it: It is important for stories like Perlmutter’s to be told, and his message of never giving up, treating people how you want to be treated, and not doing to others what you do not want them to do to you is one that bears repeating.
What I liked: Determined is not a memoir that emphasizes the gruesome atrocities committed by the Nazis. Instead, it is a short book focused on the survival of one young man and how he made a successful life for himself in Israel and the United States after World War II and Israel’s War of Independence. There are pictures of Perlmutter, his family, some of the people who orchestrated his various escapes or hid him from the Nazis, and various documents, including those filed by his family in order to leave Vienna.
What I disliked: The latter part of the book describing Avraham’s life after the war seemed a bit rushed with far fewer details than his Holocaust survival story. That’s only a minor issue, though, because getting to know even just a little bit about the man he became and the life he lived after the war was inspiring.
Final thoughts: Determined is a fascinating and important story that chronicles much of the life of a man who knew, even at a young age, that he had to think on his feet, take risks, and keep pushing to survive and succeed. Readers who usually avoid Holocaust memoirs because they are heartbreaking and graphic will appreciate Perlmutter’s inspirational story, which provides plenty of historical details but remains engaging throughout. I am honored to have been contacted by his daughter and asked to review his book.
Disclosure: I received Determined from the author’s daughter for review.
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