Book review: JACOB’S OATH by Martin Fletcher

Many books about the Holocaust have been written and I, as a Holocaust survivor myself, have read my share. However, very few authors have tackled the turmoil in post-war Europe and, particularly, the struggles of those who were liberated from the camps or from hiding. Martin Fletcher meticulously researched that post-war world in Germany and, although JACOB’S OATH is a work of fiction, he has written a realistic and believable story.

In it, Jacob witnesses the murder of his younger brother, Maxi, by a sadistic SS guard whom the inmates call “The Rat.” Jacob vows that, if he survives, he will kill The Rat. After liberation, he returns to his home town of Heidelberg, where he awaits the return of the man he is hunting, who comes from the same town. In a parallel plot, Sarah–a hidden child in Berlin–is raped by a Red Army soldier, but saved by a Jewish Soviet officer. She sets out for Heidelberg in hope of reuniting with her lover, although she is almost certain that he has perished at the hands of the Nazis.

Prior to the war, there were 1,100 Jews in Heidelberg. When Jacob and Sarah reach the town, they are the only ones. They meet–and fall in love. The story from that moment on becomes an engrossing conflict between the couple’s love affair and Jacob’s desire for revenge knowing that, if he kills The Rat, his own life (and the love affair) will end as well. The ending is unexpected. The book is a wonderful read–I recommend it as highly as is possible.

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