Cover image for From broken glass : my story of finding hope in Hitler's death camps to inspire a new generation / Steve Ross with Glenn Frank and Brian Wallace.
From broken glass : my story of finding hope in Hitler's death camps to inspire a new generation / Steve Ross with Glenn Frank and Brian Wallace.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hachette Books, 2018.
Physical Description:
xix, 266 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
A survivor of the Holocaust describes how he learned through his darkest experiences of the human capacity to rise above even the bleakest circumstances, and later used that knowledge to help underprivileged youth in Boston for more than forty years.
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940.5318092 ROS Book Adult General Collection

On Order



From the survivor of ten Nazi concentration camps who went on to create the New England Holocaust Memorial, a "devastating...inspirational" memoir ( The Today Show ) about finding strength in the face of despair.

On August 14, 2017, two days after a white-supremacist activist rammed his car into a group of anti-Fascist protestors, killing one and injuring nineteen, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized for the second time in as many months. At the base of one of its fifty-four-foot glass towers lay a pile of shards. For Steve Ross, the image called to mind Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass in which German authorities ransacked Jewish-owned buildings with sledgehammers.

Ross was eight years old when the Nazis invaded his Polish village, forcing his family to flee. He spent his next six years in a day-to-day struggle to survive the notorious camps in which he was imprisoned, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau among them. When he was finally liberated, he no longer knew how old he was, he was literally starving to death, and everyone in his family except for his brother had been killed.

Ross learned in his darkest experiences--by observing and enduring inconceivable cruelty as well as by receiving compassion from caring fellow prisoners--the human capacity to rise above even the bleakest circumstances. He decided to devote himself to underprivileged youth, aiming to ensure that despite the obstacles in their lives they would never experience suffering like he had. Over the course of a nearly forty-year career as a psychologist working in the Boston city schools, that was exactly what he did. At the end of his career, he spearheaded the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial, a site millions of people including young students visit every year.

Equal parts heartrending, brutal, and inspiring, From Broken Glass is the story of how one man survived the unimaginable and helped lead a new generation to forge a more compassionate world.

Author Notes

Steve Ross , born Smulek Rozental, is the survivor of ten Nazi concentration camps--including Dachau, where he was tasked with transporting corpses to the crematorium. He was a licensed psychologist for the City of Boston for nearly forty years, and he conceived of and founded the New England Holocaust Memorial, which was erected in 1995 and remains one of Boston's most visited landmarks.

Glenn Frank is a Boston-based real-estate attorney and the author of Abe Gilman's Ending.

Brian Wallace served as a Massachusetts state representative from 2003 to 2011. He grew up in South Boston and as a child met Steve Ross when Ross was assigned to his school as a youth worker. He credits Ross with inspiring him to stay in school and pursue his dream of becoming a politician.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This moving memoir recounts how Ross, who was born Szmulek Rozental in Poland in 1931, created meaning for himself after the Holocaust, during which he lost his family and was imprisoned in 10 concentration camps. Szmulek's simple childhood ended after Nazi soldiers invaded his hometown. His family's efforts to flee to safety failed, but his mother managed to place him with a Polish family who risked their lives to shelter him. Some months later, the Germans he did odd jobs for identified him as a Jew, and he began five hellish years in captivity, suffering torments including sexual abuse and doing whatever it took to survive, including, at 12, passing as an adult at the entrance to Auschwitz because he believed a number tattoo would make him less likely to be killed. After the liberation of Dachau, Szmulek made his way to the U.S. and used his education to pay back his adopted hometown of Boston; he rose from an idealistic truant officer assigned to neighborhoods that had been written off as hopeless to become the Boston school system's director of education. His reputation for changing lives enabled him to successfully advocate for the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial and its placement in the heart of Boston. Alternating chapters about his suffering under the Nazis with his successes after the war alleviates some of the grimness, and the end result is an inspirational account of hope overcoming horror. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

"Survival, I have learned, is tethered to hope"-hope for a better future, hope for a change, hope for a chance for happiness. Ross, a youth activist and founder of the New England Holocaust Memorial, pens an introspective memoir about the power of perseverance and compassion. Ross was eight when Germany invaded his native Poland forcing his family to flee. Separated from all but a brother, Ross endured unspeakable tortures and fortuitous escapes to survive several of Poland's death camps and make his way to the United States. Ross intersperses his traumatic experiences in the camps with his time as a truant officer in the rough neighborhoods of Boston and explains how his early life shaped his ability to provide strength to his community. Although at times difficult to read, this account will inspire others to work in their communities to help the "forgotten." -VERDICT This work is a necessary and timely addition to Holocaust memoirs, echoing the experiences of Primo Levi and other survivor accounts. Incidents of vandalism to the Holocaust Memorial and the new Polish "Holocaust law" show that these attitudes are not in the past.-Maria Bagshaw, Elgin -Community Coll. Lib., IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Ray FlynnMichael Ross
Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. xiii
1 From Broken Glassp. 1
2 The Trouble in the Worldp. 3
3 A Life in Americap. 9
4 Goodbye Lodzp. 15
5 Neighborhood Servicesp. 31
6 A Safe Way Outp. 37
7 A Friend in Bostonp. 59
8 The Farmp. 65
9 Grandpap. 75
10 The Forestp. 81
11 Memory and Escapep. 93
12 Dreaming of Homep. 99
15 The Man Who Lost His Wayp. 113
14 Work and Deathp. 117
15 Interventionp. 123
16 Self-Preservationp. 127
17 Piniap. 143
18 Opening the Vaultp. 151
19 Herzilp. 155
20 The End of Hopep. 167
21 Heart Troublep. 173
22 Escape from Budzynp. 177
23 Radomp. 179
24 No Matter How Badp. 189
25 The Honor of Workp. 193
26 The Train to Auschwitzp. 199
27 How I Learned of Robert Hallp. 203
28 Tattooedp. 211
29 Matriculationp. 219
30 An Empire Fallsp. 223
31 Dead, Gone, and Forgottenp. 227
32 The Busing Crisisp. 231
33 Guns in the Distancep. 237
34 To Never Forgetp. 241
35 Memorial Risingp. 249
36 Liberationp. 253
Acknowledgmentsp. 263