Cover image for One bridge to life : a personal memoir
One bridge to life : a personal memoir
Samelson, William, 1928-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Darnestown, MD : Clark-Davis Pub. Co., [1989]

Physical Description:
466 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D810.J4 S3142 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the years since the brutality of Nazi-occupied Poland, William Samelson, a survivor, has made peace with his past. His riveting autobiographical novel is an emphatic celebration of life. The year is 1939. The boy is ten-years-old Wilek Samelson. As the Nazis tighten their grip on Poland, young Wilek's beloved home and way of life begin to unravel. Through the next harrowing years of war, labor camps and incalculable personal loss, boy quickly becomes man. Wilek manages to escape the Nazis, courageously participating in the partisan underground activity. Relentlessly hunted down and recaptured by the SS , he survives the final years of war in the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp, until liberation in 1945.

From this suspenseful and emotion-charged portrait of a world gone mad, emerges Samelson's unique perspective on the unspeakable. In place of unseeing bitterness and hatred, Samelson affirms the difference between the Nazis who persecuted his family and people, and those Germans who were caught between the mission of Hitler and their own humanity. Electrifying instances of heroism and cruelty abound. We instinctively know this story is not only true, but true to human nature.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1939, Samelson, now a professor at Trinity University (Tex.), was an 11-year old violin prodigy living in Poland. A year later, he had a secret bar mitzvah in a Nazi labor camp. His mother and sister had been sent to their deaths; he and his brother escaped and became members of a group of partisans. Captured, they were returned to a camp and later liberated to join a father subsumed by the hatred that had helped him to survive, and a postwar world in which many Nazis went unpunished. Eventually Samelson came to the realization that some of his enemies had been caught, as he and his family were caught, in the machinery of evil. ``One condemned understands another,'' he writes in this heartfelt memoir that is affecting for its intensity and as a survivor's search for an affirmative post-Holocaust life. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This fictionalized memoir of a young Jewish boy's harrowing experiences surviving the Holocaust in Poland is a testament to the individual's will to survive. Vilek Samelson sees his family disappear one by one. His grandfather, whose faith in God has been of great support to the boy, is shot. His grandmother is burned in the synagogue. His mother and sister are transported to Treblinka, while he and his brother survive forced labor, life with the partisans, and finally a series of concentration camps. Vilek's story is one that must continually be retold. However, the author, himself a survivor of Buchenwald, would have been better served by telling the story of his life as fact , since fictionalizing it trivializes it, and the format lacks the tension of a genuine novel. Purchase where appropriate.-- Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.