Book review: "Searching for Hugo" by Naomi Rosenthal #germany

Ruth M

Hello all,

The First World War (WW1) was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history
of mankind. Thousands of history books have been written covering every
aspect of it. A tremendous amount of literature has been written about it.
And now, on the WW1 centenary, a new and unique book has been published
titled "Searching for Hugo" by Naomi M. Rosenthal.

The story of German soldier Hugo ROSENTHAL, the author's grandfather, is
told through hundreds of letters written by family and friends as they were
trying to find and arrange for Hugo's release after he was captured by the
Russians. The letters are addressed to and >from many different places in
Europe, and some of the replies contain misinformation regarding the places
where Hugo had been taken. After a year of the searching process, a close
relative who was stationed in Grodno, a city which had fallen to the Germans
in September 1915, met people of the local Jewish community, >from whom he
finally found out what had happened to Hugo Rosenthal.

I read the book >from start to end with bated breath and great interest.
These letters, together with their English translation, are very well
presented in this impressive book. The author also made some comments of her
own which are helpful in getting a better understanding of the text.

Since in the last decade I have been involved in researching the history
of the Jewish community in Grodno and visited Grodno several times, I was
excited to read the letters >from the Grodno officials and in particular
the letter of the Chief Rabbi, Abraham Gelbort, who had been the spiritual
leader of the Jewish community in Grodno and a representative of the
community before the authorities.

The author conducted further research about a prominent doctor in Grodno
who played an important part in the story, and she found out interesting
information about this distinguished Jewish physician, Isaac Rothenstein.
This is presented in the book's epilogue.

I would like to congratulate the author, Naomi Rosenthal, for sharing with
us the story of her grandfather. I warmly recommend reading this book. I
think many readers will find this book interesting and thrilling, in
particular, those who are interested in the history of WW1 and in the Jewish
community of Grodno.

Ruth Marcus, Israel

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