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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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Title: Pilgrimage from Darkness: Nuremberg to Jerusalem

Title: Pilgrimage from Darkness: Nuremberg to Jerusalem
Author: David E. Feldman
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, MS

 

Author David E. Feldman was working on another book when he was invited to lunch by a neighbor, Leonard Levine, in Long Beach, Long Island.

Already a successful published author, Feldman had become accustomed to friends and acquaintances offering new story ideas, and he developed something of a tough hide to most of these suggestions – especially those dealing with World War II, which he felt had been more than adequately covered by his recent novel, “Born of War.”

But something in Levine’s tale of a Christian German boy – now man – named Oskar Eder caught his attention. Eder had grown up in Nazi German. He had been a member of the Hitler Youth Corps, and a pilot in the Luftwaffe.

Late in the war, Eder became deeply disaffected with Nazism. His quest for truth led him to explore religions other than Christianity, including Islam, Hinduism, and finally, Judaism.

His voyage concluded with conversion to Judaism by a Rabbinic court in Haifa. He married an Holocaust survivor and embarked on a new life as an observant Jew residing in Jerusalem.

The book’s protagonist was born near Nuremberg – the heart of the Third Reich – in 1925, and in his youth was influenced by German’s xenophobic patriotism, racism and Nazi politics. An impressionable teenager, he fell under the spell of the Jungvolk, the younger branch of the Hitler Youth Corps, and departed from his parent’s socialist leanings. He aligned himself with the older, tougher youth and joined the Luftwaffe to do his part to serve his country.

Never having personally committed any atrocities, he was inspired after the war to begin his personal search for spirituality, starting with the writings of Mahatma Ghandhi.

His quest finally led him to Jerusalem where his circle included Martin Buber, Ze’ev Falk, Hugo Bergman, Ernst Simon and many others. He engaged in agriculture on a kibbutz, read the Bible, and came fact-to-face with many German-Jewish survivors – and his own guilt.

Oskar Eder’s biography takes the reader to the four points of the globe, describing a remarkable, engrossing spiritual journey. Fiction has never been as fascinating as this true story.

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