Posts Tagged ‘Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz’

‘The Passenger’ by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz – To be a Jewish Man in Germany on and after Kristallnacht


‘The Passenger’ by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (1938) – 266 pages           Translated from the German by Philip Boehm


The night of November 9-10, 1938 – Kristallnacht in Germany, the Night of Broken Glass.

I haven’t committed any crime, and not once in my life have I had anything to do with politics. Nevertheless they came to arrest me and they smashed up my apartment. Not entirely, but to a great extent. They’re arresting Jews, as you know.”

The Germans are consumed with Nazi hatred for the Jewish people, and each Jewish person faces annihilation. ‘The Passenger’ vividly captures the sense of impending doom which all the Jewish people there must have felt.

For a Jew the entire Reich is one big concentration camp.”

Otto Silbermann is on the run. He should have gotten out of Germany years or months ago. He moves from train to train to escape Germany and avoid the authorities. He does have the ultimately slight advantage of not looking Jewish. However his passport is marked with a big red “J”. His wife is non-Jewish, but Otto still fears what the Nazis will do to her. He fought for the Germans in World War I but the new breed of Nazis are a people driven by hate.

Don’t walk too fast or too slow. Because if you stick out precisely when you’re trying so hard not to, if you look suspicious because you’re trying so hard not to, if you look suspicious because you’re trying to look as unsuspicious as you can…My God, what do these people want from me?”

Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

Otto’s non-Jewish business partner uses Otto’s impending arrest as a bargaining chip to cheat him out of large amounts of money. The guy who buys his apartment does the same.

‘The Passenger’ is a rapid read, a thrilling page turner that is filled with suspense.

The discovery and publishing of this novel written by 23 year old Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz in four weeks after Kristallnacht is quite a story also which you can read about here.


Grade:   A



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