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Book Review: No More Tears Left Behind by Arthur and Ursula Rathburn

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When you think you’ve heard all the horror stories there are to tell. When you think WWII has given up all its god-awful secrets. When you just don’t want to hear it anymore, pick up this story of Eva Deutschkron and her husband, Martin. Arthur and Ursula Rathburn have produced several exceptionally well researched books on the ordinary men and women who lived through WWII. No More Tears Left Behind is the story of simple people thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

This young married couple watched as the Nazis took their parents and sisters to the “work camp.” The Nazis allowed Martin, a tailor, and Eva, a seamstress, to stay in Berlin at first, but it was clear they were just about due for “transportation.” They decided to go “underground.” This was nothing like the Partisan Underground of France and Italy; it was Jews desperate to save their own lives. Nearly a thousand people lived from day to day and minute to minute, scavenged for food, traded in the black market and found occasional work with sympathetic gentiles. Not all were sympathetic to their problems; many just wanted cheap help. Worst of all were the Jews who pretended to offer help, then betrayed their friends to the Nazis. Eva’s clear memories of their many narrow escapes are all the more frightening when you know that Martin carried a pistol and hand grenade so that they would never be taken alive.

Human nature wants to believe the best of people. Many believed the work camps were a place of “protection and safety.” When they finally realized that those who were taken would never return, it was too late to flee. These few exceptional people avoided the concentration camps, and survived by their wits and talent.

The Rathburns let Eva tell her story to us plainly and simply. This is not a story of victims; it is a tale of people who faced the Sisyphean task of outliving the Nazi regime. Victims tell no tales, only survivors.

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  • ragmaniac

    This is a very moving story, and I cannot imagine how it was even possible for Martin and Eva (and large numbers of other Jews) to survive this horror.
    But I seldom find any of such horror stories that came out of WWII involving German gentiles as victims in Germany. I do not wish to start comparing here, but I have a number German friends and acquaintances, some of whom have endured unbelievable hardships right in Germany during that awful war. They suffer in silence even to this day.