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A novel about the history of the persecution of Jews in Germany has been forgotten for more than 80 years and is now on the bestseller list in the UK.

Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz’s “The Passenger” (The Passenger) was written in 1938 and tells the story of a Jewish man like the author trying to escape from the rising Nazi regime.

It was only discovered in 2018 when the author’s niece mentioned the work to an editor.

The book has been well received by critics and has now entered the list of the top ten best-selling hardcover novels in The Sunday Times.

The British version of the novel sold 1,800 copies last week, making it tenth on the list. It was written a few weeks after the so-called “Kristallnacht” (Kristallnacht). “Crystal Night” refers to the large-scale attacks on Jews by the Nazis in Germany and Austria from November 9 to 10, 1938.

The novel tells the story of a Jewish businessman named Otto van Silbermann. When he heard the Nazi stormtrooper knock on his door, he soon realized that he had to flee. He and his wife stuffed all their money into a box, and then took trains one after another and fled across Germany.

Boschowitz himself left Germany three years before the anti-Semitic laws were implemented. His books were published in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1939 and 1940 but received little response and soon stopped printing. In 1942, a small boat that the author was riding was hit by a German torpedo. He was killed in the incident at the age of 27.

Reappeared after being lost

Boschowitz’s niece first contacted Peter Graf, the German book editor, because she accidentally read an interview with the letter about another lost book that he had recovered.

She told Graf the story of her uncle and the book, and the original manuscript is stored in the archives of the National Library in Frankfurt. Graf told the BBC that he went there, and the moment he read the manuscript, he already “knows that this is an important novel.”

He decided to edit and revise the book, and then let it be published in Germany. This year, it was also translated and published in another 20 languages. Graf believes that this novel, written more than 80 years ago, can give a powerful message to contemporary society.”If you look at today’s immigration issues, you will see that people’s willingness to help those in need is very low. And the more immigrants, the fewer people want to help. This bad and simple pattern runs through history. , “He said.

After the November massacre in Germ any, almost no country was willing to accept Jews. They were trapped. And those who were supposed to leave their country for economic reasons were treated even better than those who were persecuted in this respect. It’s worse.”

Graf also said that this novel is essentially a story about “the deprivation of the rights of citizens who were originally respected and well-off citizens.” He said: “Anyone who reads the fate of Otto Silberman will understand a lot about human values, and how terrorism and the collective lack of courage of the public make possible atrocities against specific groups.”

Author’s fate

Boschowitz was a young apprentice in business. He left Germany in 1935 and moved to Norway with his mother. After that, he lived in France and once lived in Belgium and Luxembourg. The two came to England shortly before the full outbreak of World War II in 1939. They were later arrested as enemy overseas Chinese. Boschowitz was sent to Australia, where he spent two years in a detention camp. In 1942, Boschowitz was allowed to leave the detention camp, but the ship that sent him back to England was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat.

“Exciting Novel”

Toby Lightig wrote in a book review in the Wall Street Journal that “Passenger” is “probably the first literary record” of “Crystal Night ”. He described the novel as “a novel that deeply satisfies the readers, but also a crucial historical document.” David Mills of The Sunday Times wrote: “In recent years, many great novels about World War II have reappeared. The most notable ones are “Suite Française” and “Lonely Shadow in Berlin” ( Alone in Berlin). I think “Passenger” may be the best one among them.”

Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian described it as “a gripping novel that plunges readers headlong into the clouds and mists of the advent of Nazi Germany”. He also wrote: “It was worth reading when it was written, and now it is definitely worth reading.”

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Fareed Saeed

Hello Friends! My Name is Fareed Saeed. I am a full-time Freelancer as Graphic Designer and Blogger.
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