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About the Book

Yehuda Roitmentz is a boy growing up in pre-World War I Germany. His father is one of the few Jewish officers who served in the Kaiser’s army. His mother and uncle are determined to instill in Yehuda all the knowledge and traditions of his Jewish religion. He grows into an ambitious, well-educated man who takes over his father’s clothing factory and makes it thrive.

However, everything changes when the Nazis come to power. Life becomes stressful, difficult, and even dangerous as anti-Semitic laws make earning a living almost impossible for Jews. Yehuda is soon forced to manufacture uniforms for the German army, even as he joins the resistance movement in the hopes of disrupting the Nazis as much as possible.

Yehuda’s resistance earns him a place in a concentration camp, but he is able to flee to Poland. Now, he must find a way for his wife and their baby to travel across Germany to join him. How can one man stand up to the Nazi agenda—especially when the Gestapo has put him on their Most Wanted List? It will take ingenuity, heroism, but most importantly, love to triumph over those who wish him dead and to find the freedom he seeks.

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Foreword Clarion Review

Rothman’s story gives a voice not only to his parents but to the many who suffered through the Holocaust.

Herb Rothman’s Journey to Freedom is the intimate, exciting, and deeply moving fictionalized story of his parents’ escape from Nazi Germany.

Rothman’s detailed picture of Jewish life in pre-Nazi Germany is especially compelling as it is based on the experiences of his parents; their perspective comes through in the fictional Roitmentz family, which he describes as loving, firmly committed to each other, deeply devoted to their Jewish faith and community, and extremely patriotic. Rothman’s portrayal of the ways in which the family members care for each other and for less fortunate members of their community is sensitive and moving. Through the detailed descriptions of Jewish rites, rituals, ceremonies, and traditions that form the first part of the book, he grounds the story in family, faith, and community and gives a glimpse of what had kept the Jewish people strong and united through their five-thousand-year history. Central to the story is Yehuda Roitmentz, who comes of age in the shadow of World War I and whose life is forever changed by the events of World War II. The book shows how changed Germany was by the events of WWI and how Germany’s Jews were blamed for the nation’s problems. With Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, the tension grows
as characters, unable to believe that they are in danger, remain in denial even as the situation becomes more precarious by the day.

Yehuda must face the conflict between his love for his country and the mounting evidence of Nazi atrocities. When his father, Hershel, serves in the military, they learn how the truth is being kept from the soldiers. Yehuda comes to work with the Resistance. He is captured and tortured; an exciting chain of events leads to his escape, reunion with his young family, and journey to America to begin a new life.

Pacing reflects the level of danger in the events that take place: more languid and peaceful for scenes of happy family and communal life, then picking up to convey the tension and fear that gripped the Roitmentz family, and all of Germany’s Jews, as they became aware of the true nature of the Nazi threat.

Dialogue flows naturally. Descriptions of people and places are full and rich. Characters, whether they are children or adults, are well developed and sympathetic. The result is a story that is strong, intense, and memorable. Journey to Freedom is more than a story of one family caught up in the horrors of war. It is also a powerful and much-needed reminder of how easily freedom can be lost and atrocities committed, and it is especially relevant in these days when Holocaust deniers would have the world forget.

Rothman’s story gives a voice not only to his parents but to the many who suffered through these events and have been unable to speak of the horrors they lived and witnessed. It also offers their descendants a glimpse of the truth and stands as a warning for all who live in these turbulent times.

KRISTINE MORRIS (August 1, 2017)