Reviews of the Holocaust Book, “In the Sewers of Lvov”

In the Sewers of Lvov: A Heroic Story of Survival from the Holocaust
by Robert Marshall

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The author of All the King’s Men here collects the memoirs of survivors from the Ukrainian city of Lvov and combines them with his own research. The result is a trying account of a group of Jews who spent 14 months in 1943-44 hiding in the city’s sewer system. Twenty people, including two children and a pregnant woman, descend into their own Inferno–the ledges, caverns, and underground rivers of the catacombs beneath the city streets. How they coped with the feces, the rats, the darkness, the deaths of half their numbers, even with delivery and infanticide, makes cruel reading. Marshall dedicates this book to the memory of Leopold Socha, a former criminal who became a Ukrainian sewer worker and made it his life’s atonement to save a few Jews out of the murdered millions. Tragically, soon after he was able to bring “his Jews” back to daylight, Socha was killed in an accident. – Gerda Haas, Holocaust Human Rights Ctr. of Maine Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A stirring tale of survival against overwhelming odds, based on oral and written testimony and recounted with novelistic intensity by documentary filmmaker Marshall. Recording unforgettable characters and startling scenes, Marshall explains how a small group of Jews managed to escape the liquidation of the Lvov ghetto by hiding within the city’s elaborate sewer system. Living for over a year amid rats, filth, and the constant pounding of rushing water, the ten survivors–from an initial 21–find an unlikely savior in a seemingly ordinary Polish sewer worker made extraordinary by his devotion to the dangerous task he embraces as his “mission.” Also a worthy counterpart to his varied flock–including a beautiful, pregnant widow, an energetic Hasid, and two young children–is a daring former black-marketeer who actually smuggles himself into the local forced-labor camp in an attempt to rescue the sister of the woman he loves. Relying on straightforward accumulation of day-to-day detail (crawling through 16-inch pipes to get water; picking off each day’s lice; coping with dysentery and spoiled food), heightened by chilling vignettes (the camp commandant having children “thrown into the air while he took aim and shot at them from the veranda”; mothers wordlessly jumping off roofs after their children are taken away), the narrative renders its nightmare world in brilliantly sensory and emotional terms. Unrelenting and powerful: a notable addition to the crowded field of Holocaust studies. (Eight page photo insert–not seen.) — Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

 

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