At the start of his account, Oscar Pinkus is a student, laboring over the examinations he hopes will usher him to a career and the unfolding of a normal life for an intellectual Polish Jew. The last words describe a Russian tank crawling toward him in ironic confirmation that a five-year siege of horror has been broken; he waits for tears of joy, but his eyes remain dry. The pages between the impressions registered on these two days are terribly beautiful testimony of the struggle for human survival while submerged in an unfathomable inhumanity.
One of the Holocaust’s literary classics, The House of Ashes was first published in 1964. It has been extensively revised for this edition.