A relative recommended The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland in the latter months of 2022. Now I recommend it too. The book is part historical account and part biography. Throw in action in the prologue followed by flowing prose and pertinent questions, then you have a publication well worth reading.
The Escape Artist
Walter Rosenberg later known as Rudolf Vrba is the subject of The Escape Artist. He and fellow Slovakian Alfred Wetzler became the first Jewish escapees of Auschwitz/Birkenau. Their story has been told more than once. Yet, this iteration should not be missed.
First of all, Freedland has been meticulous in his research and writing. He includes maps, personal photos and documentation from no less than Sir Winston Churchill himself. And his political observations woven throughout are sound and reflective.
The account set forth will be hard to read for some. However, The Escape Artist needs to be read. Especially by younger generations. Those too young to have personally met and/or witnessed the tattoos of the survivors of the Nazi termination camps. And more importantly, by those who have forgotten their history lessons.
Rudi Vrba is the Escape Artist
Freedland addresses the man known at his death as Rudolf Vrba by his given name at birth, Walter Rosenberg, throughout the account until the man was given a new identity following his escape from Auschwitz/Birkenau. Unlike his follow escapee, Fred Wetzler, Vrba kept his new name after the war.
Much of the book is focused on the account of Vrba. However, Freedland varies in key chapters such as in London has been Informed. The differentiation gives great credibility to the account. As do the shared documents.
Vrba’s life story goes beyond survival. He truly believed his escape would save lives-if people only knew what awaited them once the cattle cars arrived at the camps. Unfortunately, he was only partially correct.
His anger extended beyond the Nazi’s. And the anger was well placed. Much, much more could have and should have been done both during and after World War II. And the lessons are still applicable today.
British Journalist Freedland has written both fiction and non-fiction. The latter are published in his own name while most of the former can be found under the name Sam Bourne. Additionally, he appears on BBC and contributes regularly to several publications including The Guardian. He has obviously been busy researching, writing and promoting The Escape Artist since as of today January 23, 2023, his website needs updating.
The focus on Vrba’s story is commendable. Freedland’s journalist background bodes well. He asks the right questions. Readers need to provide the conclusions. And determine future actions lest ethnic cleansing continues to succeed; on different soil and against other ethnicities. If stories such as Vrba’s are forgotten, history will repeat.