Jews in the Garden: A Holocaust Survivor, the Fate of His Family, and the Secret History of Poland in World War II (Paperback)
Villages of Poland hide the lost secrets of World War II
1944: Heavy footfalls thud on the road on a rainy May night. A band of gunmen scour a hilltop farm, acting on rumors that it harbors a Jewish family. For 18 months, the Rozeneks have been hiding safely, but their luck is about to run out. Only one from the family of six will live to see the sunrise. Sixteen-year-old Hena Rozenek shelters in the woods until morning… and then she runs.
Forty years later: Holocaust survivor Sam Rakowski Ron has lived in the United States for decades, never thinking he could return to the Polish village he fled as a teenager. But now he's ready to talk about what he heard, what he saw, and what he knows about two separate families of cousins who were his neighbors, and presumably were killed during the war. The story Poland presents to the world is that Poles saved more Jews than citizens of any other nation, that any murders in Poland were committed by Nazis and Nazis alone. But Sam, while defending his countrymen, suspects a painful truth. The stories he shares with his younger cousin, Judy, an investigative journalist, send them off on a decades-long journey unlike any other to find out what happened to the Rozenek family and ultimately reveal the secrets the Polish government is still desperate to keep.
Jews in the Garden is a globe-trotting detective story that turns investigative eyes and ears toward the hidden events in Poland during the Holocaust. Judy and Sam, the unlikeliest of sleuthing duos, knock on doors, petition court documents, seek clandestine meetings, and ultimately discover what really happened to the "Jews in the garden next door."
"Jews in the Garden reads like the best of narrator-guided murder-mysteries. But in this case the who-done-it is real, chilling, and makes clear why today's Polish government is so determined to keep its bloody Holocaust-era secrets." — Larry Tye, New York Times bestselling author
"A very well written book; an informative and instructive reading." — Jan T. Gross, author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
"Riveting. A powerful, inspiring book which takes us to the heart of darkness in search of fates of Jews who tried to survive in hiding, in Poland, during the Holocaust. Jews in the Garden uncovers the long-forgotten, horrible, deaths at the hands of neighbors, and records the painstaking, decades-long effort to restore and to preserve the memory of the past. Judy Rakowsky’s book is a must read for all of us who care about the history of the Holocaust and about the preservation of memory of the Jewish catastrophe." — Jan Grabowski, PhD, author of the prize-winning Hunt for Jews and Night Without End
"An intriguing look into a little-understood and largely unrecognized part of Holocaust history." — Kirkus Reviews
"Rakowsky’s prose is the equal of any novelist… A thrilling blend of the personal and the historical." — Booklist
"An engrossing, engagingly written, highly researched account of a journey to find out the truth of what happened to a specific family during the Holocaust." — Library Journal STARRED Review
"Rakowsky has written a moving and sometimes shocking book that often reads like a thriller." — The New York Times
"Part memoir, part thriller." — NPR's Book of the Day