The Boy Behind the Door: How Salomon Kool Escaped the Nazis

  • Review
By – February 6, 2023

In Ams­ter­dam, Salmon Kool’s bar mitz­vah cel­e­bra­tion is approach­ing — but the world as he knows it is rapid­ly dis­solv­ing. It is World War II, and Salomon’s fam­i­ly and friends have been feel­ing tense for a while. That ten­sion spills over when, just days after Sal’s cel­e­bra­tion, the Nazis invade Hol­land. The word no puts an end to every­thing he’s pre­vi­ous­ly enjoyed: bike-rid­ing, going to school and the movies, spend­ing time with friends, rid­ing the tram, and even walk­ing on the sun­ny side of the street. Over the next three years, his fam­i­ly begins to dis­ap­pear, start­ing with his beloved sib­lings and father. Because Salomon is small for his age, his moth­er hides him behind a clos­et door. He emerges fear­ful­ly, watch­ing through a win­dow as his moth­er and aunt are shoved into a truck and dri­ven away. The Nazis have ran­sacked their apart­ment; he is alone and doesn’t know what to do.

In the ensu­ing years, Sal moves from place to place with the help of brave, gen­er­ous peo­ple — Jews and Chris­tians alike — who are will­ing to put their own lives at risk. He sur­vives through a com­bi­na­tion of luck and quick-wit­ted think­ing; and he serves as a reminder to nev­er forget.

This revised and expand­ed edi­tion of Salomon Kool’s sto­ry is both fast-paced and acces­si­ble. Read­ers will hold in great admi­ra­tion a young boy who sur­vived despite los­ing every­thing, and every­one, he had.

Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer, Helen Weiss Pin­cus, has taught mem­oir writ­ing and cre­ative writ­ing through­out the NY Metro area to senior cit­i­zens and high school stu­dents. Her work has been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Record, The Jew­ish Stan­dard, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She recent­ly added Bub­by” to her job description.

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