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From Nazi Inferno to Soviet Hell

By Larry Wenig

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In 1939 Hitler and Stalin signed a non-aggression pact and secretly agreed to divide Poland. This event, which enabled Germany to invade Poland without fear of Soviet interference, and 15 days later had the Red Army attack Poland from the east, forms the historical background against which the tale told in From Nazi Inferno to Soviet Hell was played out.

The dramatic and moving story told in From Nazi Inferno to Soviet Hell turns the spotlight on an aspect of the World War II Jewish experience that will be unfamiliar to many readers, including historians and scholars. Its portrayal of the corruption, uncertainty, and constant danger of life under the Stalin regime is terrifying, yet a testimonial to the human spirit and man's ingenuity and will to survive.
Larry Wenig, today a successful New York City attorney, was a youth just entering adolescence when World War II began. He and his family lived in the half of Poland conquered by the Germans. After experiencing Nazi anti-Semitic violence first-hand, they fled to the Soviet half of Poland. There too they were subjected to persecution, as members of the middle class, as Jews, and even as Poles. One night they were rounded up without warning and sent to a camp in the subzero environment of Siberia, where they lived in unbelievable hardship and worked as laborers in the forest. After Germany invaded Russia, they were sent from Siberia to Uzbekistan, where they eked out a meager living by their wits. At war's end, with great difficulty and ingenuity, they made their way back to Poland. There, finding that as Jews they were unwelcome, they escaped to Austria and then to the West with the aid of the Israeli Berichah organization, and ultimately made their way to the United States. Wenig's parents and sister survived the war years with him, but both of his brothers were killed, one by the Nazis in Poland, the other, heart-rendingly, just a few hours away from Vienna and freedom by persons unknown.

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