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Death March Escape (Kindle)

The Remarkable Story of a Man Who Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust

WWII Frontline eBooks Frontline: WWII Biographies

By Jack J Hersch
Frontline Books
File Size: 14.9 MB (.mobi)
Pages: 283
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526740243
eBook Released: 9th January 2019

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The Spirit of Anne Frank Human Writes Award

As seen in Military History Monthly: Monthausen Miracle – How one concentration camp inmate's uncanny luck saved him from certain death several times.

he Anne Frank Centre for Mutual Respect is honouring Jack J Hersch with the 2019 Spirit of Anne Frank Human Writes Award for his breathtaking book, Death March Escape, chronicling his father's escapes from two Nazi death marches. Jack says, "It is immensely meaningful for me to honoured this way. My father would have been thrilled."                                   

As featured by the Mail Online: The man who cheated death twice: Incredible story of the POW who escaped the Nazis during concentration camp 'death march' only to be recaptured – and do it again!

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Hersch effectively uses his father’s unusual story to convey the horrors of the Holocaust. A valuable addition to Holocaust literature. - Publishers Weekly

Hersch's amazing tale is told for the first time by his son Jack who has retraced his footsteps for his new book. - The Daily Mail

In a warm and emotionally engaging story, Jack digs deeply into both his father's life and his own, revisiting - and reflecting on - his father's time at the hands of the Nazis during the last year of the Second World War, when more than mere survival was at stake - the fate of humanity itself hung in the balance. - GoodReads

In June 1944, the Nazis locked eighteen-year-old Dave Hersch into a railroad boxcar and shipped him from his hometown of Dej, Hungary, to Mauthausen Concentration Camp, the harshest, cruelest camp in the Reich. After ten months in the granite mines of Mauthausen’s nearby sub-camp, Gusen, he weighed less than 80lbs, nothing but skin and bones.

Somehow surviving the relentless horrors of these two brutal camps, as Allied forces drew near Dave was forced to join a death march to Gunskirchen Concentration Camp, over thirty miles away. Soon after the start of the march, and more dead than alive, Dave summoned a burst of energy he did not know he had and escaped. Quickly recaptured, he managed to avoid being killed by the guards. Put on another death march a few days later, he achieved the impossible: he escaped again.

Dave often told his story of survival and escape, and his son, Jack, thought he knew it well. But years after his father’s death, he came across a photograph of his father on, of all places, the Mauthausen Memorial’s website. It was an image he had never seen before – and it propelled him on an intensely personal journey of discovery.

Using only his father’s words for guidance, Jack takes us along as he flies to Europe to learn the secrets behind the photograph, secrets his father never told of his time in the camps. Beginning in the verdant hills of his father’s Hungarian hometown, we travel with Jack to the foreboding rock mines of Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps, to the dust-choked roads and intersections of the death marches, and, finally, to the makeshift hiding places of his father’s rescuers. We accompany Jack’s every step as he describes the unimaginable: what his father must have seen and felt while struggling to survive in the most abominable places on earth.

In a warm and emotionally engaging story, Jack digs deeply into both his father’s life and his own, revisiting – and reflecting on – his father’s time at the hands of the Nazis during the last year of the Second World War, when more than mere survival was at stake – the fate of humanity itself hung in the balance.

Written by his son, Jack, this book starts with Jack visiting KZ Mauthausen to retrace the steps of his father, Dave, in 1944 when he entered the camp as a 160lb, 18 year old. How had this search begun? Jack's Israeli cousin, Vivian, had called Jack in 2007 to inform him that his dad was on the Mauthausen website.

Unlike many other survivors, Dave (David) like to tell his story but did he tell it all? He was a man of many smiles and jokes. Jack, however, had never seen the picture of his father on the internet before. How had the museum obtained it? What Jack didn't know was that his now deceased father had returned to Mauthausen in 1997 on his way to Israel? Why had Dave never told Jack? Was he trying to protect his son from the true horrors of what he went through?

Whilst this book is VERY well-written, due to the nature of the search etc. along with hearing Dave's story and the path the allied forces in WWII took to ensure freedom, the story is not in chronological order. There are essentially three stories being told so you do need to have the ability to jump into different scenes and times from chapter to chapter.

Late in 1943 a Nazi soldier warned the family to leave their home of Dej, Hungary. Why did the family or many others like them not take heed? Sadly on June 6th, 1944 David Hersch and his family were being escorted to Birkenau whilst allied forces were landing in Normandy - D-Day. Very interesting to read the parallel happenings on the same timeline. What do you do when one of the kapo's wants you dead? Chapter 33 will tell you how Dave survived against all odds. No fun being hit with a 2x4! Not only that, Dave managed to survive much, much more.

DON'T MISS reading the footnotes as they are also very informational. Does the author have regrets? Yes, and he openly shares those. He believes his dad only shared maybe two percent of how bad life in the camp was really like. There are two sections of photographs helping the reader see some of what the author discovered.

This is an INCREDIBLE book, one that we should take lessons from. History is raw and not always pleasant but let's learn from it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Yes, I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher but no, that has not influenced my review. Thanks, Liz

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Amazon Customer

I know it's a cliché but I really couldn't put this book down. I paricularly liked the way the author retraced his father's steps and the way the places visited are described so well. The hell and monotony of the camps are detailed so explicitly that you almost feel you are there yourself. The author praises his father's bravery and asks himself if he could behave and survive the trials faced by his father. I would hope that he never would have to do so. This is a book about triumph of the evil of nazism.

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Amazon Customer

More than any other book that I have read on this subject, Hersh portrays a compassionate and clear lens of a man's remarkable ability and luck to survive the profoundly inhumane, insurmountable challenges of the holocaust, the labor camps, unspeakable hatred and sadism, and its devastating effects on so many innocent victims and families. Hersh seamlessly entwines storytelling at its best of both how his father's journey into the labor camps, harsh life during, survival, and escape twice from the labor camp came about, how his father felt through selective vignettes involving all aspects of life before, during and after the camps, historical context of the war and time, how his father edited and expressed aspects of his more difficult experiences to protect his family from the burdens of the cruelty he endured, the context of how this tragic experience impacted his relationships with his family and himself--all the while, Hersh speaks to how his father's story and Hersh's explorative journey back to Europe changes his understanding of his father and himself. The detail of this man's incredible life, the sensitivity of this author's written expression as a son, Hersh's unique ability to tell the story so that the reader empathizes with and feels what it must have been like to be that young man caught in such a nightmarish time, the blight against humanity is most powerful through this author's deep and sensitive lens.

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Amazon Customer

I read a lot of Holocaust memoirs and histories, but I found this story unique in that it was not only a testimony, but also an exploration of the author's complex relationship with his father and the legacy of being the son of a survivor. The writing and narrative are very engaging, and David Hersch's story of survival and determination is incredible and very inspiring. Highly recommend this book!

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Amazon Customer

Author guest article on Traces of War

Traces of War

Jack has written a beautiful tribute to his father, what a wonderfully written book. You can tell how much respect he has for his father in reading this. I would highly recommend it.

NetGalley, Stephanie P

A really awesome read. What a really liked about the author is how he tells the story. He tells the amazing story as he learns it - from both his fathers first hand account and those were there. Really great research and it has such a great feel, unlike other books. It was not a story about the holocaust, but rather a story about learning about a fathers journey though hell. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.

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Amazon Customer

As the book continues, we come to understand both the courage of the father and the growing awareness of the son. In sharing this inspiring legacy with us, Jack has left an enduring memorial of his father's remarkable life and has dramatically demonstrated that he is "the son that his father deserves".

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Amazon Customer

Author interview with WGN News

WGN News

We discover not only how the concentration camps are remembered in the localities where they once stood, but we share the author’s voyage of self-discovery, reassessing his relationship with his late father and his own attitudes to history, life and everything.

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Historical Novel Society

Hersch’s book contains so much information and also emotion. As he is so closely connected to the information he is sharing he allows himself to reveal how he was feeling and how he reacted to the stories and seeing the concentration camps, as well as other places his father was. Hersch’s father’s story is one of survival and showcases his strength and ability to make it through such horrific experiences. Death March Escape does not shy away from discussing the horrors of the concentration camps and the Nazi regime. There are also moments focused solely on emotional and psychological trauma that occurred during the course of the war. After the text there are a number of images that will allow readers to see what Hersch’s journey was like. This is a lovingly collected work that does not shy away from sharing a great deal with the reader.

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The Nerdy Girl Express

A truly exceptional work of painstaking and detailed research, "Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust" is an extraordinarily riveting account that will hold the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. An extraordinary military biography, "Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust" is a deftly written, impressively organized and thoroughly 'reader friendly' presentation that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly valued addition to the growing library of World War II Military History & Biography collections. This is the stuff of which block buster movies are made!

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Midwest Book Review

Jack Hersch, David’s son, wrote a truly wonderful book, in the way that it tells the full story without skipping details or minimizing the horror, yet it’s almost a light read. In other words, you can read this book and still sleep well at night, compared to reading some other books on the subject that leave you with nightmares for days and nights to come... I highly recommend this book to a variety of people! If you’re interested in WWII – this book is for you. If you’re interested in the Holocaust but are afraid of the more harrowing stories – this book is for you. If you’re interested in stories about the strength of the human spirit – this book is for you. If you’re interested in stories of survival against unimaginable odds – this book is for you.

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KnigaWorm

I’ve read many Holocaust books over the years. This one strikes close to home for me because it is a reminder that there will come a day when the survivors will no longer be around to directly tell their stories. It is up to their families and the rest of us to keep telling these stories to ensure that what happened to the Jews of Europe during World War II does not happen again.

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Writergurlny

A remarkable survival story, with a deep, personal narration.

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Man of la Book

Jack Hersch’s Death March Escape: The Remarkable Story of a Man who Twice Escaped from the Holocaust (Frontline Books), is about a Holocaust survivor, Dave Hersch, who twice escaped two death marches toward the close of World War II. The author, the son of the survivor, rightly regards his late father as a true hero.

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The Times of Israel

It is my opinion that you can walk the path your parent’s took and learn so much more than you originally knew. I also believe that unless you were actually there that there is no way you can completely understand the horrors. This is a non-fiction story that I highly recommend. We need more voices to tell these stories as the survivors are all beginning to die off.

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The Musings of a Book Addict

Click here to view coverage of author speaking at large New Jersey High school

FiOS1, 6th February 2019

We discover not only how the concentration camps are remembered in the localities where they once stood, but we share the author’s voyage of self-discovery, reassessing his relationship with his late father and his own attitudes to history, life and everything.

Historical Novels Review

The book is a wonderful read filled with tangible emotions written in words.

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Amazon Customer

A truly remarkable story and book by this author.

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Amazon Customer

Death March Escape is a fantastic true story and it is written beautifully by Jack Hersch. I highly recommend it to everyone. It's one of many stories that must be told, so an atrocity like the Holocaust can never again occur.

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Playstation Illustrated, Ashley Perkins

This is a unique and detailed story that shares what it was like living through the Nazi’s rule. How a person in a concentration camp was treated, what their thoughts were when they were being kept in a camp, and how it was shared with their families. If you are a WWII enthusiast, if you are curious as to what real people lived through under Nazi rule, and if you are looking to enhance your concentration camp knowledge pick up your own copy of Death March Escape. It is not an easy or quick read but it is interesting and told in a way that will keep your interest from the very beginning.

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A Soccer Mom's Book Blog

Jack explains how he connects the dots, becomes his own detective and unravels an incredible story of perseverance, courage, resilience and ultimate drive as he finds-out what really happened to his father Dave and the people who sacrificed so much to ultimately help him survive.

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Fupping, Taegan Lion

This story was an amazing read from start to finish , it was also an emotional read as well but then again when it comes to nonfiction and especially the ones that are about WWI or WW2 then you know your going to feel the emotions.

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Spooky's Maze of Books

SAN DIEGO – Released for publication on Jan. 19, this book is a combination memoir and biography; a memoir by son Jack J. Hersch of his painstaking efforts to visualize and reconstruct the experiences of his father, Dave, who near the end of World War II twice escaped from his Nazi captors in the vicinity of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.

Although a work of non-fiction, the work has the flavor of a suspense novel, thanks in large measure to the successful integration of three streams of information. These are, first, the story of his experiences that Dave Hersch had related, with maddening gaps, at every family seder; second, Jack’s experiences during an in-depth exploration of Mauthausen and environs; and third, the World War II progress made through Europe of the 261st Regiment, 65th Infantry Division of General George Patton’s Third Army, which ultimately liberated the area where Dave Hersch had been held prisoner, and where, following his second escape, he had gone into hiding.

What makes the reading particularly compelling is the psychological impact that his father’s story had on Jack Hersch. At times he blamed himself for not asking more while his father still was alive – a poignant reminder to all of us, regardless of where we are on the age spectrum, to share our stories and to listen carefully to those of our family members. At other times, he engaged in a form of auto psychoanalysis; perhaps, he hadn’t asked his father about all the details because he didn’t want to know. Perhaps he had feared that as a son, it would be even harder to measure up to his father’s bravery.

Jack also experienced a range of emotions as he visited places where mass murders had occurred. He was angered on the grounds of one sub-camp where now there were suburban houses; worse still, in the central administration building of one of the camps, there now lived a young family, all but oblivious to what had occurred there before. Shouldn’t all these places have been treated with special honor and respect for the memory of those who perished and those who survived? How dare normal life reassert itself in a place of such horror?

In other places, realizing the immensity of the odds that his father had overcome – odds that had militated against Jack’s very existence – Jack was brought to tears.

Still elsewhere, Jack would try to imagine what his father had felt during the times his life was most in danger, and why at the seders retelling his story, he had minimized the horrors that he had endured.

Through the course of the book, Jack reexamines his emotions several times, as behooves a man who not only was in search of his father, but also of himself.

San Diego Jewish World

In a warm and emotionally engaging story, Jack digs deeply into both his father's life and his own, revisiting - and reflecting on - his father's time at the hands of the Nazis during the last year of the Second World War, when more than mere survival was at stake - the fate of humanity itself hung in the balance.

Read the full review here

GoodReads

This book was haunting. Excellent but haunting. The author did a fantastic job of telling the story of his father’s escapes from 2 different points of views. The first being his father’s point of view. The second being his. Jack’s story was intertwined with his father.

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Read With Me Blog

Death March Escape is a story of one man’s remarkable plight, offering a unique inside, outside and historic look at the Nazi Holocaust.

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Booktrib

I really did enjoy this book and will definitely look into more of the story of Hersch and also of the concentration camp he was at.

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Amazon Customer

It is always rewarding to read a book which almost never happened. With survivors of WWII dying out, so much information is lost and this is a very welcome save... This is a quite unique story even though hundreds of thousands were caught up in the closing days of Hitler's Germany. It is warmly told and engages the reader.

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Firetrench

Hersch effectively uses his father’s unusual story to convey the horrors of the Holocaust. A valuable addition to Holocaust literature.

Publishers Weekly

Click here to listen to Jack J Hersch interview

NOTE: set cursor to 17:40

The Jewish Views, 24th October 2018

As featured by

Antiques Diary, November/December 2018

As featured on...

Hot Lifestyle News

Article: 'PRISONER OF WAR who escaped twice from a Nazi concentration camp' as featured by

WT News, 10th September 2018 - words by jakky

Hersch's amazing tale is told for the first time by his son Jack who has retraced his footsteps for his new book.

Mail Online 10/9/18

As featured by

The Bookseller, 13th July 2018

About Jack J Hersch

JACK HERSCH is a journalist, an instrument-rated commercial pilot, and expert in the field of distressed and bankrupt companies. He has served as a public company board member, and has guest-lectured in the business schools of M.I.T., U.S.C., and U.C. Berkeley, among others. Accidents Waiting to Happen is his second book, following Death March Escape, winner of the 2019 Spirit of Anne Frank Human Writes Award. He and his wife live in New York City.

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