Alex's Wake by Martin Goldsmith

Alex's Wake

A tale of two journeys...On May 13, 1939, the luxury liner SS St. Louis sailed away from Hamburg, Germany, bound for Havana, Cuba. On board were more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany. But an indifferent world conspired against them. After being denied landing rights in Havana, the refugees were turned away by the United States and Canada and forced to sail back to Europe, where the gathering storm of the Holocaust awai...

Details Alex's Wake

TitleAlex's Wake
Release DateApr 8th, 2014
PublisherDa Capo Press
GenreNonfiction, World War II, Holocaust, Biography, History, War, Literature, Jewish

Reviews Alex's Wake

  • Reet Champion
    More than half a century ago Martin Goldsmith's father failed to make any real effort to save a father and brother. And so they the hands of captivity. Now, many years later, Martin still feels the sorrow of his father's guilt. Why did his father not do all in his power to launch a rescue of some sort? Why were Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt left to die sad deaths long before their time? And so the guilt came. But only after it...
  • Susan
    Subtitled, “A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance,” this is the story of a journey. When Martin Goldsmith wrote his previous book, “The Inextinguishable Symphony,” about the lives of his parents, he found that it gave him more questions than answers. Martin Goldsmith’s musician parents had escaped Nazi Europe and fled to the United States and that first book told their story. However, Martin’s paternal grandfather, Alex Go...
  • Rita Kay
    Martin Goldsmith knew that although his father and his wife had escaped Nazi Germany, his grandfather and his father's younger brother had not. Martin began a search through letters and documents that led him to all the places that his ancestors had lived during the downward spiral from a home which was a showplace to smaller and smaller places and then to interment camps, a refugee ship which was refused entrance to many countries including the ...
  • Sunset
    "From 1919 until 1932 this was the private house of the respected citizen Alex Goldschmidt. With the forced sale of this house to the National Socialists, the sorrowful journey of this Jewish family began. Alex Goldschmidt and his son Helmut in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his wife Toni and daughter Eva in the Riga ghetto, were murdered in 1942." ~~plaque on house that the author's grandfather owned. Remembrance has a rear and front.'Tis...
  • David
    Alex's Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance by Martin Goldsmith Is about the author's grandfather, Alex Goldschmidt, a sixty-year-old veteran of WWI and his seventeen-year-old son, Klause Helmut Goldschmidt, the author's uncle. Concerned about the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in Germany and their anti-Jewish policies, they had secured passage as refugees on the SS St. Louis in 1939 departing from Hamburg, Germany, and bo...
  • Robert Melnyk
    Incredibly powerful and moving story of one family so tragically affected by Nazi Germany. Martin Goldsmith re-traces the route taken by his grandfather and uncle trying to flee Germany at the start of WWII. They were aboard the SS St. Louis which was denied docking in both Cuba and the U.S. and had to return to Europe. They were able to disembark in France. There they were forced from one internment camp to another before finally being shipped t...
  • Donna Davis
    Holocaust memoirs take on added urgency right now, between the revisionists who want to rewrite history and claim that the entire thing was either a hoax or dreadful exaggeration, and the fact that the eye witnesses and survivors are nearly all dead now. Martin Goldsmith retraces the journey, both academically and where possible, literally, to the places his Uncle Helmut and grandfather Alex were taken. It’s quite a story, and would be a fun re...
  • Samantha
    Alex's Wake is a very unique memoir that takes the reader on a emotional journey through Europe. I was expecting the story of the SS St. Louis when I picked up this book. The story of these doomed refugees who paid all they had to emigrate to Cuba, only to be turned away, is only one small part of the drama that unfolds in this book. Martin Goldsmith decided that he must follow the path of his grandfather and uncle, Alex and Helmut, who were two ...
  • Jill Meyer
    Martin Goldsmith has written "Alex's Wake", the search for his grandfather and uncle, who had been two of the passengers on the "SS St Louis". The boat, which set out from Hamburg to Havana in 1939 and carrying a total of 937 Jewish passengers, who had been promised asylum in Cuba. After being turned away from landing in Cuba, the ship was also denied entry in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. After being shunted around for two w...
  • Susan Johnston
    This book was one of the hardest that I have ever read yet it was also one of the most moving. For many in the world, the Holocaust, while frightful, is a series of events in history. There are the naysayers, the apologists, those who claim ignorance, the ones who wish it would just go away. For Jews, it is a reminder of a history that not just then but through the ages meant no matter how safe and secure the present, hatred, mistrust and death m...
  • Sara
    Martin Goldsmith is a second generation survivor of the Holocaust. While his parents, Gunther/George and Rosemarie/Rosemary, were able to escape to America, they left behind four family members who would become evental victims of the Nazi regime. Martin's grandmother,Toni, and his aunt, Eva, would perish in the Riga ghetto. His grandfather, Alex and uncle, Helmut were murdered at the most infamous of Germany's extermination camps, Auschwitz-Birke...
  • Amy
    Im always surprised/moved by WWII/Holocaust books. Man's inhumanity to man, as they say. This one offered a new look at France during WWII, and I have to say it wasn't flattering - new to me to learn that much of France's actions towards the Jews were home-grown and not imposed by the Germans occupying....And the SS St. Louis? Wow. (having recently read In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin - this accoun...
  • Steven Howes
    Martin Goldsmith is the host of several classical music programs on NPR and Sirius/XM Radio. His gentle and mellow voice masks the inner turmoil he experienced as a result of his family's tragic past. His paternal grandparents and uncle and aunt all perished at the hands of the Nazis while his own parents made it out of Germany safely to the United States prior to the start of the Holocaust. Even though his family members were murdered 10 years p...
  • Betsy Boo
    Really, really liked this one. Special thanks to Mr. Goldsmith. He took me on a journey...physical, emotional, spiritual. You can't read this without feeling like you're right there with him AND his grandfather. I'm especially grateful because I have been reading Holocaust books for several years now trying to find an answer. Mr. Goldsmith made me understand that there is no answer. At some point you just have to accept that there is evil in this...
  • Nick Montgomery
    The author sets out to retrace the disjointed tragic journey of his father and uncle, affluent Jewish refugees, in the horrific time that was the prelude to World War II. Traveling from Germany to Cuba, then to France, they embrace a hopeless quest for expatriation, being moved from camp to camp, with each camp worse than the previous one. Finally, they are loaded on train cars bound for Auschwitz where they meet their fate. The author travels to...
  • Lynn Eldredge
    I finished this book in one day. It's powerful. I know Martin Goldsmith from npr's Performance Today and from XM 76, Symphony Hall. I know him a lot better now, because I listened to this book, narrated by him. In high school, I learned about the 907 Jews that tried to migrate and were sent back to Europe. Now I know people that were on that ship and what happened to them.Do not listen to the last hour of this book while you are driving. Warning,...
  • Trudy
    A grandson's journey to discover the road his grandfather and uncle walked during the years of WWII. Jewish and trying to leave Germany as Hitler became more and more brutal. Passage obtained in the SS St. Louis bound for Cuba, but not allowed to dock. No one would take them in. Forced back to Europe and the Nazi's, they were ultimately bound for concentration camps. This is a very personal account of their fatal journey. Hard to imagine the pain...
  • Sue Altman
    I would give this book a 4.5. It is extremely difficult to read, especially since I lost so many relatives to the same fate and deal with so many feelings. But it is beautifully written and gives a little different perspective to some of the history.
  • Fern Chapman
    Goldsmith writes on topics close to my heart. In fact, I address some of the same issues in my books. He has a deep need to understand his family's history. His book shows how the legacy of the Holocaust shapes the next generation.
  • Susan
    Before I travel back to Southern France I must re-read this book. Martin Goldsmith describes scenery & places I long to see. I devoured this novel in 2 days. It is a well written memoir of the journey Martin & his wife took and the people they met along the way.
  • Barbara Roesch
    Step by step lesson on the human capacity for forgiveness and salvation through an impossible personal journey into the past lives of loved ones wronged by family and society. There is a way out.
  • Diane Charron
    Probably the most riveting book I have ever read. An incredible story, beautifully written, and impossible to put down.
  • Matt Hooper
    A fellow bibliophile introduced me to "Alex's Wake" and Martin Goldsmith, and I'm better for it. As the Nazis came to power in Germany in the mid-to-late 1930s, Goldsmith's grandfather Alex lost his home, his livelihood, and his family. And he had advantages other Jews did not – money, visas to Cuba and the United States, tickets on trains and ships – but fate conspired to keep him in Europe and at the mercy of Hitler's war machine. In the en...
  • Peg
    A very moving account of the author's grandfather and great-uncle who were Holocaust victims. Goldsmith and his wife follow their trail, from the doomed St. Louis, back to France, and then Germany. Goldsmith is consumed with his own guilt, as well as his father¡s, for not having saved them, and after numerous passages of this guilt, I was losing patience! He also spent quite a bit of verbiage on every croissant they ate on the trip, as well as t...
  • Una Rose
    I really liked this book. Its well written and not at all downbeat even though the story at its heart definitely is. It was hard to read especially as you know of its tragic ending but despite that, it still resonates with the joy of living, hope, a rich family history and deep family love. Its sad that the hopes weren't met with success and salvation but the journey the author takes does, in part, lessen the grave errors by states and humankind ...
  • Paul Vance
    Since I first watched the mini-series in the late seventies, I have been fascinated by stories of the Holocaust. So, picking up Alex’s Wake on a Bargain Bookshelf for me wasn’t so unusual.Because such books generally are written by Holocaust survivors, most tell of immense triumphs of survival against all odds, under conditions of horrendous cruelty. “Alex’s Wake” is different. This story is told by Martin Goldsmith, not born until afte...
  • Keith Blackman
    Doomed story of the author's grandfather, Alex, as they tried to escape WWII Europe but were denied entry into the US
  • David Wilk
    Interviewed this author for Writerscast: seem to have an inordinate interest in books about the Holocaust, doubtless because I think about my unknown relatives who perished in Lithuania and Poland during WW II, and feel somehow that knowing what happened to other Jews in that awful time will help me imagine the story of what happened to my own relatives. It’s difficult not to wish that there were more accounts of heroic e...
  • Sarah Beth
    I received a copy of this book from FSB Associates. Martin Goldsmith grew up in a family haunted by grief over the murder of multiple family members during the Holocaust and guilt that they were unable to save them. In this book, which is part history and part memoir, Martin retraces the tragic voyage of his grandfather Alex and uncle Helmut that ended not in freedom but in their murders in Auschwitz. In doing so, he learns more about his relativ...
  • Ray
    If I wrote a book about a trip I made to Europe to follow the journey of my grandfather, it might not sound too interesting. That's how I felt when I began reading "Alex's Wake", since that's essentially the nature of his book. Martin Goldsmith had a goal to "reconnect", in a sense, with a deceased grandfather and uncle, neither of whom he'd ever met, by tracing their steps from their home in Germany, and their attempted escape from the Nazis as ...