"There Are Too Many Jews on This Train"

A newly rediscovered 1938 novel offers one man’s examination of how and why the single word “Jew” has come to define him.


Observation
May 5 2021
About the author

Diane Cole is the author of the memoir After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalNPR online, and elsewhere, and she serves as the books columnist for Psychotherapy Networker.

What distinguishes The Passenger, the newly rediscovered 1938 novel by the German Jewish author Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (1915-1942), from so many other fictional accounts of the Holocaust? To begin with, it is so viscerally absorbing that as I turned each page I shuddered, as if from the same chill breeze felt by the novel’s main character, the assimilated Jewish businessman Otto Silbermann, in his desperate attempt to flee Nazi Germany. Indeed, the gem-like precision of Boschwitz’s writing evokes, as few other books have, the anxiety and terror with which the once-prosperous Silbermann awakens to his new status as hunted prey in the Third Reich.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: Arts & Culture, Holocaust