The war time ordeals of a Jewish mother and her 7 children.
This story is an amazing true account of the wartime struggles of a Jewish woman named Ester Parnes, her husband Samuel, and their seven children.
In June 1944 they believe that they are safe from the atrocities of the Nazi concentration camps, as they are living in the small village called Skalat in eastern Poland. After World War I, the land was given to the Soviet Union under the 1939 treaty between Stalin and Germany, and the Soviet people had been friendly, and they, and their relatives are happy, and have a good life. However, they soon discover that Adolph Hitler has no scruples about going back on his word as he instigates Operation Barbarossa. On the very day this happens the family find themselves fleeing the German planes and soldiers, desperate just to survive…
When they join thousands of other Jews and tens of thousands of Polish people crossing the Zebruschk River, and entering the Ukraine, they believe it is only for a short time, and they are sure that they will be safe there until they can return to Skalat. However as the German army ruthlessly advances, slaughtering everyone in their path with Hitler’s “scorched earth” policy, the days and months turn into years. Watching those around them die from starvation, or being murdered by the Germans, the family suffer unimaginable hardships and find themselves doing what they have to, to survive. Driven further and further from their home on a journey which is to take them through the Ukraine, Russia, and into Asia.
I found this story totally absorbing and the very fact that it is written from true accounts given to the author by the Ester Parnes children and grandchildren, makes it even more interesting. Not only did I learn a lot about the plight of these people during World War II, but I also could not help but be amazed at their strong faith and true sense of family, which bound them together, and gave them a reason to survive.
Of course during the war years, despite being on the run from the Germans, their normal family life continued, and like all families disagreements and disputes arose, however, strong in their faith, they still manage, despite everything, to remain united.
Having read modern history at school, this book should, I feel, be part of the curriculum as not only is it a compelling story of one families family’s survival during World War II, but also reveals how Adolph Hitler thought, and explains the timing and reasons behind his policies.
I would highly recommend this book as a fascinating true account of the bravery and fortitude of Ester Parnes, and her family during WWII.
About the Author:
Avraham Azrieli’s new novel, Deborah Rising, will be published by Harper Collins on September 27. 2016. A graduate of Columbia Law School in New York City, Azrieli tried many complex court cases before publishing his first novel, The Masada Complex (a political thriller) in 2010. A full-time author since then, his other books include the Israeli spy novels The Jerusalem Inception and The Jerusalem Assassin, as well as Christmas for Joshua (a family drama dealing with interfaith conflicts), The Mormon Candidate (a political thriller), Thump (a courtroom drama featuring sexual harassment and racism) and The Bootstrap Ultimatum (a mystery involving the commercialization of Memorial Day). He also authored Your Lawyer on a Short Leash (a guide to dealing with lawyers) and One Step Ahead – A Mother of Seven Escaping Hitler’s Claws (a WWII biography, which inspired the musical By Wheel and by Wing). Azrieli grew up in Israel, where he received extensive Talmudic education, served as an intelligence officer and, after attending law school, clerked for the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Residing primarily in the United States since 1990, he currently lives near Washington DC with his wife and children. Like Ben Teller, the protagonist in The Mormon Candidate, Azrieli often rides his motorcycle in the mountainous forests of western Maryland. To learn more, visit AzrieliBooks.com
About the Book:
Hitler’s attack on Russia in the spring of 1941 and the Nazi eastward blitzkrieg form a dramatic backdrop to this true story. On the first day of Operation Barbarossa, in the midst of battle, Esther Parnes leads her family east, away from the Polish village of Skalat. A step ahead of Hitler’s earth-scorching troops, Esther and her children endure hunger, disease, and bloodshed. But Hitler’s four-year campaign defeats neither Mother Russia nor Esther Parnes. In an era when women were confined to traditional household roles, at a time when proud men bowed their heads as they stood at the edge of a pit waiting to be shot, this redheaded woman challenged Adolf Hitler. Based on extensive interviews and independent research into the Parnes family’s plight and the Nazi war on Russia, this book tells the story of an extraordinary mother’s battle to save her seven children.
One Step Ahead is available from Amazon in Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/One-Step-Ahead-Escaping-Resistance-ebook/dp/B015UTD7GE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504601540&sr=8-1&keywords=one+step+ahead+by+avraham+azrieli
and Barnes and Noble in Paperback https://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/one-step-ahead-avraham-azrieli/1006867514?ean=9781401082802#reviews-header