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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Material Type
Home Location
940.5318092 ROS Book Adult General Collection

On Order



From the survivor of ten Nazi concentration camps who went on to become the City of Boston's Director of Education and created the New England Holocaust Memorial, a wise and intimate memoir about finding strength in the face of despair and an inspiring meditation on how we can unlock the morality within us to build a better world.

On October 29, 1939 Szmulek Rosental's life changed forever. Nazis marched into his home of Lodz, Poland, destroyed the synagogues, urinated on the Torahs, and burned the beards of the rabbis. Two people were killed that first day in the pillaging of the Jewish enclave, but much worse was to come. Szmulek's family escaped that night, setting out in search of safe refuge they would never find. Soon, all of the family would perish, but Szmulek, only eight years old when he left his home, managed to against all odds to survive.

Through his resourcefulness, his determination, and most importantly the help of his fellow prisoners, Szmulek lived through some of the most horrific Nazi death camps of the Holocaust, including Dachau, Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, and seven others. He endured acts of violence and hate all too common in the Holocaust, but never before talked about in its literature. He was repeatedly raped by Nazi guards and watched his family and friends die. But these experiences only hardened the resolve to survive the genocide and use the experience--and the insights into morality and human nature that it revealed--to inspire people to stand up to hate and fight for freedom and justice.

On the day that he was scheduled to be executed he was liberated by American soldiers. He eventually traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, where, with all of his friends and family dead, he made a new life for himself, taking the name Steve Ross. Working at the gritty South Boston schools, he inspired children to define their values and use them to help those around them. He went on to become Boston's Director of Education and later conceived of and founded the New England Holocaust Memorial, one of Boston's most visited sites.

Taking readers from the horrors of Nazi Germany to the streets of South Boston, From Broken Glass is the story of one child's stunning experiences, the piercing wisdom into humanity with which they endowed him, and the drive for social justice that has come to define his life.

Author Notes

Steve Ross (Author)
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 the Director of Education for the City of Boston, 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.

Brian Wallace (Author)
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.

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

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