When Europe Was a Prison Camp: Father and Son Memoirs, 1940-1941
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About the Author
Peter Schrag is a lifelong journalist and author of Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future (a New York Times Notable Book), and Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America, among other books. A former executive editor of Saturday Review and editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee, he has written for The Atlantic, Harper's, the Nation, New Republic, the New York Times, and other major publications.
Otto Schrag (1902-1971) was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Germany. Among the last Jews to get a PhD from Heidelberg before the war, he entered his grandfather's beer malt-processing business. In 1935, he fled Germany, eventually settling with his family in Brussels. With the start of the German invasion, the Belgians arrested him as an enemy alien, thus beginning the events narrated here. In New York in the 1940s, he wrote three well-regarded novels. He returned to Germany in 1950 and successfully rebuilt the business the Nazis had seized. There he wrote another novel and translated From Here to Eternity into German.
"This book takes a unique approach to a World War II memoir, combining not only the stories of a father and son, but both men's years apart writing about the subject...The dual perspectives are invaluable, and create a fresh approach to an important story."--Foreword Reviews
"When Europe Was a Prison Camp is a skillfully interlaced narrative that generates empathy and admiration for the people in these various episodes, especially women, who as Peter emphasizes, risked so much to stay alive and keep their families together. It is a greatly entertaining but equally insightful and important read for anyone interested in the history of World War II, the Holocaust, and Jewish history. In its combined format, it is a worthy read and invitation for further scholarly and pedagogical use."--H-Net Reviews
"Schrag combines his father's narrative with judicious research and documentary reference to insure clarity and historical accuracy; he also inserts parts of his own memoir, which he wrote before discovering his father's manuscript.... 'Through the fog of war, ' Peter Schrag observes, 'little can be seen very clearly.' To their great credit, these father-son memoirs help us see through this very dense and sinister fog."--Jewish Book World