Tracks to Freedom
by Michael Reit
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Pub Date 08 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 08 Dec 2022
The only way you’ll leave Auschwitz is through the chimney.
The words still rang in Agnes Markx’s head as she left the Judenramp and the hive of activity around the train behind. As a nurse assigned to Block 10, she realizes the stories of the horrors transpiring here weren’t exaggerated. Now an unwilling accomplice in the Nazi doctors’ medical experiments, she vows to save as many women under her care as possible.
Electrician Joel Kozak has access to all areas of the gargantuan camp. When the underground camp resistance reaches out to him one day, he discovers his appointment wasn’t by accident.
As a stoker in Birkenau’s crematoria, Samson Tarski witnesses more death in an hour than most people in a lifetime. The thought of stepping into the gas chambers and ending his struggle is always on his mind. But when one of his friends shares a bold plan to rise up and destroy the buildings of death, he finds a renewed sense of purpose.
These three strangers are now part of an attempt to achieve the impossible without knowing each other.
To rise up, destroy the Auschwitz-Birkenau death factory, and escape to tell the world about it.
Based on actual events, Tracks to Freedom is a story of bravery and the battle to retain one’s humanity in a place where there is none.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 38 members
Tracks to Freedom takes place mainly in Auschwitz-Birkenau during WWII and is absolutely crushing in every way. Oh, how my heart ached! Humankind can be impossibly brutal and cruel but it can also be indescribably merciful. The anguish suffered by the characters in this story and those around them is hellish. Death usually came after prisoners served their purpose. Most were too destroyed mentally and physically to rise up but a few who managed to survive resisted in their own ways...and every way counted from standing up to Sonderkommandos to smuggling medication and morsels of food to treating corpses with dignity to miraculously obtaining and hiding firearms.
The main characters were forced to perform in horrendous conditions, including Samson Tarski who was tasked with crematoria work. For him working with the dead was marginally better than working with living corpses. What he lived is incomprehensible. But the Nazis made it impossible to oppose...not only were the prisoners' lives constantly on the line (death was rampant) but others would get punished for one's disobedience in deplorable ways. Agnes Marx and her sister faced the selection upon arrival at Auschwitz. As a nurse Agnes worked in the terrifying Block 10 where she was forced to help doctors with experimenting on women. She risked her life to show compassion and to stockpile and administer medications taken from luggage and clothing of the dead. As an engineer Joel Kozak used his skills and ability to work in any department in the camps to help where he could, hiding tools and obtaining information, bravely fighting. All three of the main characters showed spirit and kindness though they faced moral dilemmas in working where they did.
This gut wrenching book is perfect for Historical Fiction readers who are intrigued by WWII and the Holocaust in particular. It is unputdownable yet it was crucial for me to do so more than once to catch my breath and stop the tears. It is obvious that writing this thoroughly-researched book was almost unbearable for the author, too. The stories are excruciating and the author took great care to capture them from true accounts. His other books are all outstanding and written with the same thoughtfulness and anything he writes will be an automatic read for me.
My sincere thank you to Michael Reit and NetGalley for the absolute honour of reading this powerful and unforgettable book. My feelings about it are impossible to convey. Kudos to the author for recognizing the importance of the Resistance and horrific aspects of WWII and having the courage to write about it.
This was truly one of the best books I have read about the Holocaust and of Auschwitz. I have read many and in each one I always learn something new. This story was heartbreaking yet powerful and should be read by all. Highly recommend.
“Tracks to Freedom” is a WWII historical fiction book by Michael Reit. This is the second book in a series, but it can be read as a stand-alone. What I liked was Mr. Reit’s historical research - just when you might think you know the majority of stories about Auschwitz, there is always another one to discover. Mr. Reit does acknowledge, in his afterward, where he took liberties. There is a lot of back story for all three characters - at times a bit too much (the characters’ stories don’t start intertwining until about the 50% mark), but do continue on. I found the build up to the plan tense and rather liked the abruptness of the ending - and it makes me wonder if there will be another book written with these characters. I do have the first book Beyond the Tracks on my TBR and this book has made me nudge the first book up a bit.
This gut-wrenching and gripping WW11 historical novel is the sequel to “Beyond the Tracks” follows Agnes Markx, a nurse assigned to Block 10 where she became an unwilling accomplice to the Nazi doctor’s medical experiments. The horrors there aren’t exaggerated...We also see what electrician Joel Kozak faced in the gargantuan camp while Samson Tarski, a stoker in the crematoria witnessed more death each hour. These three strangers needed to survive the horrors in order to tell the world about it....
Based on actual events and people, this novel recreates in a vivid language the lives of prisoners incarcerated at one of the most dangerous place to be held during the 1940’s. Mr. Reit acknowledges he took some liberties to bring his story to our ears.
I have read multiple stories during this terrible time Auschwitz is one of the most notorious camp and through recent years people have voiced their experiences. I never get tired of listening or reading what they went through. Their story is one of bravery and highlights the battle to retain one’s humanity. The author did excellent recreation of the terror, the suffering, the hunger, the fear the prisoners faced each day...To situate us better we have quite a bit of backstory in the lives of these three characters till ½ through they met...and their join effort to survive crisscrossed.
There are a few more people that crossed the pages especially when the underground camp resistance reached out and shared a bold plan to rise and destroy the crematoria.....as a reader I wanted so much for all involved to come out in one piece....not to be as we well know...
“Tracks to Freedom” is well-written: lively and interesting.
With a perfect mix of both fact and fiction the story told is both beautiful and heart wrenching. We follow the lives of some of those imprisoned in Aushwitz and the uprising and destruction of a few of the crematoriums. Their will to not be defeated and to take a stand is inspiring. May we never forget the horror of such injustice. I will be reading more of this author’s books.
An interesting and informative novel about different people’s experiences in different concentration camps. It was good to be reminded that the Nazis sent people to camps for a variety of reasons.
This is a well written story about the tragic lives and losses in the Nazi death camps. Although fictional, the story is based on that of actual victims and survivors of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The story is heartbreaking and horrifying as you see the brutal and demoralizing way people treat each other, but also inspiring when you consider the hope and faith that existed among the prisoners. The research into the events is top notch, and I appreciated the clarification at the end as to which characters were real. As I read the story, all of the characters were real to me. A very respectful story about the darkest of times that will echo in my heart for a very long time.
Tracks to Freedom is another Holocaust novel which is not very different from others written about this horrendous period in our history. The book traces the lives and experiences of Joel and Samson from Poland and of Agnes from the Netherlands—each of them finally arriving at the prisons/extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The reader is swept along with the plight of these individuals and the descriptions of the German atrocities—including medical “research “ experiments.
This is not a happy, feel good novel but is worth reading. I thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this novel prior to publication.
The author tells a compelling story but does so with the greatest consideration and respect for facts. This is truly a well researched and carefully presented work. It is a good way for people to learn about the tragic but important part of humanity’s shared history without needing to delve into history books. It is a hard read but that is the nature of the subject matter. The author presents such sympathetic characters that it is impossible not the become truly immersed in their fate. Well done, Mr Reit!
Tracks to freedom follows three different prisoners that ultimately are given positions in the interment camp to position them to help their fellow Jews. Agnes is a nurse that cannot stand to see the horrible experiments the doctors put her fellow juice through and risks her life to help them. Joel was in present after being ratted out by a fellow Jew. He was made a mechanic and hates knowing how he contributes to the deaths in the camp and then there’s Sampson, he was falsely accused of missing mandatory work days and when the garden showed him such a lack of respect he could no longer take it he beat him over the head with the zone night stick. He to worse in the prison. They all feel guilty having positions that help hurt or killed their fellow Jews unlike other Jews who want to prove to the Nazis how much they agree with them they willingly hurt in strong-arm their own brother in. This was a good book but I do fine it’s so hard to take reading about the atrocities visited on undeserving people. I know this has been a trend through history but it is one thing to talk about it in the abstract and I told another to read about it in the book. I think the author did a great job bringing you to the deepest lows and then the greatest highs. I couldn’t wait to see how it ended and I totally and thoroughly enjoyed it. I received this book from NetGalley and a publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.
A must read. I fell in love with the characters.
Agnes, a nursing student torn from her family. A big heart that will lead her to trouble with the Nazis.
Joel, who had privilege's that others didn't until his true identity is revealed. This lands him in Auschwitz in which his usefulness as a handyman/electrician places him in different areas. In doing so, he is able to assist in the Revolt.
Samson and Roza, a love story and teamwork to also help the Revolt.
This book is one of the first ones I've read that has so much focus on the horrors of the crematoriums. As others have said, it's not a feel good book. I did have to take breaks at times from reading due to horrors people are put through. How someone can be so heartless is beyond my understanding.
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