My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do you think you could imagine what it was like to live in 1938 Germany? Well unless you lived it, you probably can't. Reading "The Passenger" is like living the nightmare of the Kristallnacht pograms that took place in Germany and Austria between November 7 and 13, 1938. Apprehension slowly turns to absolute fear as German Jew Otto Silbermann, a wealthy Berlin businessman, twists and turns trying to escape the web created by the Nazis by riding trains, but there is nowhere to go and no one is safe. Realizing this happened to real people and not that long ago, it seems unbelievable, but as the reader goes on Otto's journey, it becomes clear it was also unbelievable to him.
It has been written that "this is likely the first literary account of these atrocities". Originally published in English in the United States in 1939 the book didn't attract much attention and then went out of print. It didn't help that the young author died in 1942. Recently re-discovered and edited by Philip Boehm, the book is getting the exposure it demands. The history of the book and the tragic life of the author is included. Translation from the German is by Philip Boehm.