Alex's Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and Journey of Remembrance

Overview

Alex’s Wake is a tale of two parallel journeys undertaken seven decades apart. In the spring of 1939, Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt were two of more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis, “the saddest ship afloat” (New York Times). Turned away from Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the St. Louis returned to Europe, a stark symbol of the world’s indifference to the gathering Holocaust. The Goldschmidts disembarked in France, where they spent the next three years in six different camps...

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Overview

Alex’s Wake is a tale of two parallel journeys undertaken seven decades apart. In the spring of 1939, Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt were two of more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis, “the saddest ship afloat” (New York Times). Turned away from Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the St. Louis returned to Europe, a stark symbol of the world’s indifference to the gathering Holocaust. The Goldschmidts disembarked in France, where they spent the next three years in six different camps before being shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz.

In the spring of 2011, Alex’s grandson, Martin Goldsmith, followed in his relatives’ footsteps on a six-week journey of remembrance and hope, an irrational quest to reverse their fate and bring himself peace. Alex’s Wake movingly recounts the detailed histories of the two journeys, the witnesses Martin encounters for whom the events of the past are a vivid part of a living present, and an intimate, honest attempt to overcome a tormented family legacy.

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Editorial Reviews

Baltimore Sun
“Underscores the immense moral challenges and failings of a nation that believes itself the leader of the free world. . . . A heartbreaking story of fear, frustration, anti-Semitism and betrayal.”
Baltimore Sun
Boston Globe
“A child of persecuted German Jews remembers his tormented, perished forebears—and makes peace with the country that hounded them to death. . . . A well-researched, thorough reckoning of this shameful past.”
Kirkus Reviews
Johns Hopkins Magazine
“Underscores the immense moral challenges and failings of a nation that believes itself the leader of the free world. . . . A heartbreaking story of fear, frustration, anti-Semitism and betrayal.”
Baltimore Sun
New York Journal of Books
Alex’s Wake is at one level a history lesson as memoir. . . . The book also reads as demonstration of the healing power of story telling, and of the transformation of terrible loss in to great beauty. . . . [The] Jewish concept, Tikkun Olam . . . refers to humanity’s shared responsibility to ‘heal the world.’ With the writing of Alex’s Wake, Goldsmith has done his part.”
Boston Globe
From the Publisher
“This is family history travelogue as act of repentance—candidly written, deeply considered, and profoundly moving.”
Johns Hopkins Magazine

“Martin’s journey and book offer a new perspective on the Holocaust; one that is typically missing from most books and films about the Shoah. . . . Alex’s Wake is a powerful and evocative memoir.”
New York Journal of Books

Library Journal - Audio
09/15/2014
Goldsmith (Beyond Beards and Burqas) here tells two stories: one of the tragic 1939 journey of Goldsmith's 17-year-old uncle Helmut and his 63-year-old grandfather, Alex, on the ill-fated St. Louis. The ship was turned away from Cuba, Canada, and the United State as its passengers attempted to escape Nazi Germany but had to turn back to Europe. The Goldsmiths spent several years as prisoners in various French internment camps before they were sent to Auschwitz, where they died. The second story is Goldsmith's moving memoir of his own trip that retraced his relatives' awful journey. The author does an excellent job reading his book. His nuanced voice portrays his painful emotional state when visiting the decaying internment camps and his contrasting enjoyment of the bucolic French countryside. VERDICT Highly recommended for memoir and history collections in all libraries.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781622314072
  • Publisher: HighBridge Company
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 720
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 5.88 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

MARTIN GOLDSMITH is the host and classical music programmer for “Symphony Hall” on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and hosted NPR’s Performance Today, from 1989 to 1999. He is the author of The Inextinguishable Symphony and lives in Maryland.

MARTIN GOLDSMITH is the host and classical music programmer for “Symphony Hall” on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and hosted NPR’s Performance Today, from 1989 to 1999. He is the author of The Inextinguishable Symphony and lives in Maryland.

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