Cover image for Leap to life : triumph over Nazi evil
Leap to life : triumph over Nazi evil
Rebhun, Joseph, 1921-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Ardor Scribendi, [2000]

Physical Description:
226 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS135.P63 R437 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rebhun's story of survival in Russian- and Nazi-occupied Poland succeeds on several levels. First, it's a sharply focused, clearly written account of survival against impossible odds that manages to be uplifting despite repeated and vivid descriptions of unspeakable horror. Second, Rebhun brings a fresh voice to a topic that has generated enough books to fill several libraries. Rebhun, a retired California doctor, was born and raised in Przemysl, a Polish city of 70,000 that was captured by the Nazis in 1941. What follows is familiarÄthe establishment of a Jewish ghetto whose occupants are subjected to ongoing terrors, then the ghetto's evacuation after two years, its occupants sent to Auschwitz. Rebhun, 22, and his 68-year-old mother (his father had died) board the train, having made prior plans to jump while in transit. Both do jump, but they are separated. Before he finds his mother, Rebhun is forced to flee an approaching guard: "I make a decision that tears my heartÄto run far away from the tracks, a decision that still haunts me." Eventually Rebhun obtains an identity card labeling him a Polish Catholic, though this doesn't ensure his safety. Rebhun describes through many graphic vignettes the depth and strength of Eastern European anti-Semitism and the depth and strength of the vigilance and subterfuge necessary to survive. In addition to his war years, Rebhun recalls his experiences testifying against some of the Nazis responsible for atrocities in the Przemysl ghetto, and he explains why he never lost his faith in God. Rebhun's account provides a searingly genuine window into a world that, a mere 50 years later, can seem as remote and impossible as the most imaginative fiction. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Rebhun was 22 when the Nazis invaded his hometown of Przemsyl, Poland, in 1939. He was forced to live in the Jewish ghetto until the inevitable selection for the concentration camps. His family survived there for one year; then his father was shot, and Rebhun and his mother wound up on a train bound for Auschwitz. Miraculously, Rebhun was able to cut his way through the train door, and they jumped to freedom. However, during their escape mother and son were separated, never to see each other again. Rebhun then stayed on the run from the Nazis, surviving the war because he received a Polish identification card stating that he was a Polish Catholic. Although Rebhun's life story is remarkable, this book fails to capture fully his sense of desperation and survival, owing in part to a melodramatic tone and unfortunate use of the passive voice. A more compelling choice might be Leo Bretholz's Leap into Darkness (LJ 10/15/98). For Holocaust and European history collections. Jill Jaracz, MLIS, Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

I. Przemysl
1. Lights and Shadowsp. 3
II. Life in the Ghetto
2. Eruptionp. 21
3. Gog and Magogp. 47
4. The Grinderp. 61
5. Before Hellp. 73
6. In the Abyssp. 87
7. Too Latep. 119
8. The Torn Heartp. 127
III. Back to Life
9. Back to Lifep. 139
10. Pillar of Cloudp. 143
11. The Moonp. 151
12. Gate to Heavenp. 155
13. The Greatest Miraclep. 163
14. I am Josephp. 169
15. Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?p. 187
IV. Past and Present
16. Passoverp. 191
17. The Righteousp. 197
18. On the Witness Standp. 201
19. Jumping From Another Trainp. 209
Faces in the Mirrorp. 213