Exit Berlin by Charlotte Bonelli
Exit Berlin by Charlotte R. Bonelli tells the life story of Luzie Hatch, a German Jew, who fled Berlin days after the Kristallnacht terror in 1938. Arnold Hatch, her American born cousin, was the one who enabled her escape – but her success prompts other relations trapped in Germany to seek Arnold’s help. Luzie, who speaks English and German and can therefore translate for Arnold, becomes the mouthpiece for a heartbreaking family dilemma, as Arnold does not have the means to help everyone.
The story unfolds through a collection of letters that Luzie has painstakingly saved (which are now housed American Jewish Committee Archives). This novel displays a different side of WWII history, where Arnold Hatch is faced with trying to keep his business going under the weight of the Great Depression, while also trying to aid tons of his relations suffering in Germany (many of whom he never met or heard of). It’s the story of a family conversing together with Luzie trapped in the middle, and the Holocaust looming before them.
“Exit Berlin is a powerful and important work that sheds significant light on what one person with determination and imagination could—and could not do—to save those she loved during the critical period of 1933–42.”—Michael Berenbaum, Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University
“Millions perished in the Holocaust, and for those few who managed to find refuge in a world of closed doors, it took relentless effort and persistence in the face of great peril and untold frustrations. Charlotte Bonelli’s collection of correspondence, Exit Berlin, tells a moving story and is an important historical record of one family’s struggles to escape. I recommend it highly as a unique account of dedication and steadfastness against big odds in a trying time.”—W. Michael Blumenthal, Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin
“Always illuminating, full of moral tension and high drama, the letters that Luzie Hatch exchanged with her relations amount to an eyewitness account that allows us to penetrate the myths and statistics that sometimes obscure the hard facts of the Holocaust. Charlotte Bonelli, who assembled, selected and annotated the correspondence, has made an important contribution to both history and literature.”—Jonathan Kirsch, author of The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan