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The Last Jews in Berlin

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,091 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
In February 1943, four thousand Jews went underground in Berlin. By the end of the war, all but a few hundred of them had died in bombing raids or, more commonly, in death camps. This is the real-life story of some of the few of them - a young mother, a scholar and his countess lover, a black-market jeweler, a fashion designer, a Zionist, an opera-loving merchant, a teen-a ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 18th 1999 by Basic Books (first published 1982)
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Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sometimes you have to wonder what exactly it is editors do to earn their keep. To my mind this book suffers from a very bad editorial decision. The material is organised in such a way that a lot of the reader’s intimacy with the characters is lost.

The title tells the story. It’s the story of several Jewish individuals trying to elude the Gestapo in Berlin. The problem is, just as you start getting emotionally involved with one character, the narrative switches to another story. And so on and so
Dov Zeller
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
About a year ago I read "Paper Love" by Sarah Wildman (which I highly recommend) and it was the first time I had come accross detailed accounts of the lives of Jews who lived in and around Berlin during the later years of the war. I hadn't realized that a number of Jews were "allowed" to stay in Berlin through 1943 and 1944 and even perhaps into early 1945 because of their work in hospitals and factories -- only to be rounded up and sent to camps in the last year or two of the war.

"Paper Love"
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
A gripping true account of German Jews hiding in Berlin during World War II.

Leonard Gross provides fascinating insight into a rarely covered subject. Written like a thriller and with an unlikely cast of helpers including Horst Wessel's sister, a pro-Nazi Field Marshal's son and a Prussian Countess, the book holds your attention throughout.

Known as die Taucher, the divers, they were also referred to as U-Boats. 11,000 Jews went underground in Berlin during the war years of 1939 – 1945. 1400 surv
This was an interesting account of a few of the Jewish people who managed to stay alive in Berlin through Hitler's reign. Those who did were referred to as "U-boats" because they had to hide in plain sight by going underground. The author relied on interviews of these people, and those who helped them, that in most part were done by another researcher who was unable to complete the task and report his findings. The stories are harrowing - both those of the survivors and those who helped them. Th ...more
This book covers in detail the stories of a dozen or so Jewish individuals who managed to survive the Holocaust hiding in plain sight in Berlin, in the very heart of Nazism. The author conducted extensive interviews with his subjects and, I expect, those that helped hide them, and he covers their stories almost day by day. It's very well-written and at times almost reads like a suspense novel -- I didn't want to put it down. Highly recommended.
Toni Osborne
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing account and the real-life story of some Berlin area Jews who managed to stay alive in hiding till the end of the war after the S.S. lightning roundup of all remaining Jews in Operation Factory. Such Jews were known as “U’Boats”. This book is based on interviews of the survivors conducted in 1967 and 1978 and is a powerful and gripping portrait of life during WW11.

The author fills in the backgrounds of all these survivors and we follow their travels and observe them under varie
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, history
(edited June 4, 2016 with "A Footnote on Faith" at end)

“There comes a point when life is so unredeemed that great risks seem of no consequence.”
The focal point of Nazi power and policy was Berlin. As soon as Hitler came to power in 1933 he began to marginalize, deport and exterminate all Germany Jews. A special goal was to make Berlin Judenfrei. But a surprising number went “underground” and illegally, miraculously survived one man’s approximation of hell on earth. How? This book explores that
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of the "Last Jews in Berlin "by Leonard Gross, 5-18-15

The Author, Leonard Gross reviewed the extensive work of a friend and colleague named Eric Lasher who compiled numerous interview of survivors of the Nazi persecutions during their regime from 1932 to the end of World War II. The taking of the interviews of the survivors physically sickened Lasher and years later Leonard Gross asked permission from Lasher to compile some of the stories in greater details, if he c
Paloma Meir
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book in a used book store in the mid 90s. The cover was crumbly, and the pages were yellowed but the subject matter was interesting, and an aspect of the Holocaust I hadn't read much about.

I devoured the book in one sitting, and immediately flipped back to the first page to read it again.

I don't remember many of the details of this book, but I do remember being powerfully struck by the bravery and ingenuity of the real life people living their endangered lives in plain sight. Brav
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1942, if you were a Jew in Berlin, your options for staying alive were very grim. The gestapo started rounding up Jewish Berliners by the thousand and shipping them "to the east." No one could be sure what waited Jews in the east, but most felt an instinctive dread about it. The only way to avoid deportation was to live illegally-- underground, in hiding, without proper papers. The illegal Jews roaming about Berlin were often called U-boats. No one know how many Berlin Jews managed to evade d ...more
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adolf Hitler became the chancellor and later Fuhrer of Germany beginning in 1933. Hitler and the Nazi Party (National-sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) had become the political force. In 1933, there were 160,000 Jews living in Berlin. At the end of World War II, there were less than 1000 Jews living in Berlin. Leonard Gross interviewed and studied the testimonies of Jews who survived living in Berlin during the entire war. An important rule was the life stories had to be validated.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Last Jews in Berlin was a good read. It was oh-so-close to being a great read every now and then. What I loved about this one were the personal stories. These stories were the heart of the book. Readers get to meet dozens of people and follow their stories. As you can imagine, these stories can be intense.

Instead of telling each person's story one at a time, one after the other, the book takes a more chronological approach. The book is told in alternating viewpoints. Is this for the best? O
Aaron Finestone
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The Last Jews in Berlin by Leonard Gross is not a happy read, but it is an essential read. Reissued by Open Road Integrated Media, the book is based on the stories of seven Jews who survived World War II by living underground in Berlin. Such Jews were known as "U-Boats." The book is based on interviews of the survivors conducted in 1967 and 1978.

Gross points out that in Germany, the resistance was largely passive, wherein Germans sheltered, fed and smuggled Jews. The righteous gentiles in this b
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
When Hitler seized power in 1933 there were 160,000 Jews living in Berlin. By the end of the war in 1945 only a few hundred were still there. This well-researched book chronicles the experiences of some of those few survivors. Based on first-hand testimony, Gross tells their stories in great detail and it makes for some harrowing reading. However, by reconstructing conversations and by imagining others I found a false note creeping in, and would have preferred if the author had kept to a straigh ...more
Eugenea Pollock
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: car-books
This book tells a true story I had never heard before, revealing an amazing aspect of WWII history. Who knew that a number of Jews survived in Berlin right under the noses of the Gestapo?! They lived, for the most part, "underground", relying on the black market economy, anti-Nazi Gentiles, "found" resources, their wits. A wonderful testament to the strength of the human spirit! And I found a new hero born of these desperate times: Maria Countess von Maltzan (Marushka).
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, it's so hard to imagine how these people survived in such dire and frightening circumstances. It's well written and a must for anyone who is interested in this sad and dreadful part of history.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author was asked to finish a book, from the notes of another author, who had interviewed Jewish survivors, who had lived their lives in Berlin, throughout World War II.

I made friends with a girl in my 9th grade class, who came from Berlin, and lived there during World War II. I wish I had asked her about how life was during that time. It must have been pretty awful. She talked about having an older boy friend, which I thought wasn't right for a young teen aged girl. She thought she could ha
vanya minsk
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was not an easy task. It's well-written, and uses language that is accessible to those outside academia. But the subject matter was some of the hardest I've ever read.

"The Last Jews in Berlin" matches "A Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank and "Night" by Elie Wiesel in terms of importance to the Jewish narrative of the Holocaust. Before reading this book,
I was unaware of the number of Jewish "U-Boats" that remained underground in Berlin long after the city was declared Juden
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm very fortunate to have friends who are well-read in some truly fantastic books, and this is yet another example. The writer takes the reader on parallel journeys of some of the few Jews yet to be hunted down and captured in Berlin during WWII. In regularly switching between the stories, it is impossible to race ahead to find out how each fares, but instead the anxiety for these individuals simmered in the back (or front) of my mind while reading the next thread. Though I have read reviews th ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! It has just about everything that anyone would want; suspense, romance, violence, sadness, and even comedic relief at times (and yes I realize it's a WWII book). As commented by other readers the names can get a bit confusion, but their names aren't nearly as important as their actions and the position they are in so don't let that stop you. If I only give you one thing I liked about this book here it is; The Last Jews in Berlin gives you a great understanding of the danger th ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-ww2
An excellent telling of the ways in which the Jews that remained hidden in Berlin after the city was declared "free of Jews" by Hitler managed to survive--or not. Now that most of the Holocaust survivors have gone to their rewards, and so much of what is available about the time period is being written as fiction, this anecdotal but historical approach seems especially fine.
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The second Holocaust book I ever read (back in the fifth grade--what was my mother thinking?), and my all-time favorite. Helpful hint--if reading the book for the first time, it helps to read all of the individual stories together, instead of just working your way through the book page by page. You'll get confused as to who's who, since each chapter focuses on one of the book's main characters.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Amazing. Sobering. Touching. Frightening. We must never forget. Only drawback: I, like several others, had trouble keeping the characters straight, since the author switches back and forth between them all. Nevertheless, this was very well-written and moving.
Liz Martin
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Captivating book, but it was written in such way that it was hard to keep up with.
Jun 26, 2007 rated it liked it
The only thing I didn't love about this book was that the individual stories/memoirs were choppy. That made it hard to keep track of each one's journey. It's a borderline 4 stars for me...
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When the Impossible Becomes Possible

I knew what would face me when I opened this book, as I have read extensively about the Nazis and their “final solution”, but I was wrong. After reading the book description, the Author’s Note, and the Foreword, I thought I was well-prepared, but I was wrong. This book is about twelve people who survived the Second World War by hiding in Berlin, then the capital of Germany. The stunning fact about these dozen people is that they are all Jewish. There were more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking but Heartwarming

There are periods of history, events in the human timeline that require us to look at them, especially when they show humanity at its most cruel and depraved. We are obligated to gaze upon these events, to acknowledge the horrors endured and perpetrated, so that we may learn from them and ,hopefully, prevent such atrocities before history can repeat itself. As devastating and emotionally painful as this book is to read, it is also life affirming and heartening. Whil
This book was interesting to read, because I knew going into it, that the Jews in the story all made it through the war, because the book came from interviews with the survivors. This does not lessen the feeling of terror I had for each close call they encountered - especially since their friends and family didn't always make it.

I learned about the Swedish church's involvement in getting Jews out of Berlin - something with which I was not familiar. I learned the Jews who hid in Berlin were known
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an engaging anecdotal account of several Jewish individuals during the final days of the second world war still managing to survive in Germany. The lives they led during this time were unbelievably stressful yet they managed to be creative and able to avoid capture. It's so difficult to imagine what they went through losing loved ones and putting their trust in people that they weren't 100% sure of. Good fortune shined on them at times and they were able to take advantage of it. We all ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though this book was written many years ago, I found the book very well written and spell binding. Though I didn't like the author jumping from one person to the next at times, i discovered the reason he did this towards the end of the book. I have always been very interested in WWII books and this was a different angle that I had not read before. It was well written and documented. I was sucked into the time and the terror that each Jewish person faced. IT was very moving at times and awfu ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Survival in the Shadows: Seven Jews Hidden in Hitler's Berlin
  • This Is Berlin: Reporting from Nazi Germany 1938-40
  • Wallenberg: Missing Hero
  • Hitler's First Victims: The Beginning of the Holocaust and One Man's Fight to End It
  • The Boys: The Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp Survivors
  • The Shetland Bus
  • Triumph of Hope: From Theresienstadt and Auschwitz to Israel
  • Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler
  • Goebbels: A Biography
  • Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin
  • Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff
  • A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust
  • Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45
  • Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America
  • Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps
  • Leningrad: State of Siege
  • Between Giants: The Battle for the Baltics in World War II
  • The Oppermanns

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“Richard Grunberger points out in The Twelve-Year Reich, the Jew served a necessary psychological function. “Just as primitive man’s concept of God supposed the existence of the Devil, so the German’s progressive self-deification during the Third Reich depended upon the demonization of the Jew.” 0 likes
“Hitler had been sworn in as Chancellor two months earlier by Paul von Hindenburg, President of the German Republic, on the supposition that only he and his National Socialists—by then the largest party in the country, with one-third the popular vote—could deal with the paralysis that had immobilized the government for months. Hitler took power legally; there followed immediately a series of illegal acts designed to consolidate his power and intimidate the opposition. A fire set in the Reichstag, blamed on a Dutch pyromaniac, who may have been used by the National Socialists, gave Hitler his excuse to begin a pseudolegal process of abolishing all constitutional guarantees of individual freedom. The party’s infamous storm troopers assaulted the political opposition, trade union leaders and Jews. Sheer terror purged the Reichstag of so many opposition deputies that Hitler had no trouble in pushing through the Enabling Act that gave him dictatorial powers. The boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1, 1933, which simply institutionalized storm trooper violence against Jewish professionals and businesses, was Hitler’s first formal effort against the people he believed to be at the heart of a Bolshevik conspiracy to destroy Germany. That” 0 likes
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