Shards of War — Fleeing To & From Uzbekistan by Michael G. Kesler

Shards of WarReviewed by Cy Hilterman

Many books have been written about the inhumane killing of the Jewish people during WW II by the Germans. This book tells first hand about the horrible atrocities committed not only by the Germans but also by those working with the Germans.

Michael Kesler and his sister, Luba, were raised in Dubno in the Ukraine and fled their home on June 24, 1941, ahead of the advancing German armies, leaving their parents behind. Michael tells the story of their dangerous travels deep into the Soviet Union to avoid the conflagration. They spent the brutal winter months in a town near Stalingrad where they nearly perished from hunger and cold. Next summer, they had to flee again and reached Stalingrad, where they were able to miraculously escape from the city under siege and subsequently made their way to central Asia, where Michael became a veterinarian assistant living among Uzbeks. Two years later, Luba became critically ill with typhoid and, comatose for over a month, nearly died. Upon her recovery, the siblings moved to Samarkand, where Michael became a weaver.

At war’s end, they managed to return to their hometown, which they found devastated with all its 8,000 Jews in mass graves outside the town, machine-gunned by Germans and bulldozed by Ukrainians—dead or alive—into ditches that the victims had been forced to dig. Subsequently, they found their way to a displaced persons’ camp in West Germany and ultimately to the United States.

The personal, moving story depicts the desperate fight for survival of Polish-Jewish refugees in the Soviet Union amid a horrible war that cost the lives of 27 million of its people. Excellently written, it keeps the reader glued to the extraordinary adventures of two siblings caught in the maelstrom of a horrific war and personal tragedy. The book has received much acclaim from a number of academicians and has, for several months, been listed among the top bestselling EBooks in Europe.

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