From: OUT OF CLEVELAND
Back-cover page and where to buy: OUT OF CLEVELAND
. . . I had always asked myself why the Jews had not escaped before the inexorable drift of destruction caught up with them. Surprisingly few Jews left Germany before the Holocaust. Did those few possess some kind of knowledge the others had no access to?
I begin to think that if I could find a Jew who had left Germany he might tell me something that could save my life.
On January 4th Zara returns and seems far less threatening than in my memory of only ten days before. We ask one another how the holidays had been. Later she scrambles an egg and carries it to her room. I don't see her again for two days.
On January 7th I note that I feel very well and that everything in the house is in order. I begin to be ashamed of my suspiciousness and I write: Have I been looking for spiders in cobwebs?
On January 8th I am about to go out for "Happy Hour" when she comes home. She looks crestfallen when she sees me dressed to leave and I feel a small lurch of pity for her solitude on this first Friday of the new year. Impulsively I ask her to join me and she eagerly accepts, quickly putting on the coat she has just removed, not bothering even to go to the bathroom or to adjust her makeup, as though she is afraid I might leave without her. We drive in her new fire-engine red z b15x.
That night I briefly record: Pleasant company. Treated to Chablis. Doesn't flirt, but men flirt with her. Nice time. Can this woman be poisoning me?
But the next evening, passing through the living room, she speaks about the night before with the hauteur she does so well: "You must go der because it es a trandy place. The men Oi-ee, met were so mach lower class. It es so difficult to meet men with gud backgrund. Most men ahr so mach lower class than . . ." (she pauses to include me) "we ahr."
On January 12th I find the Jew who might help me understand my own actions. Sunday mornings I often shop at a Jewish bakery. Occasionally I notice a concentration camp number carved into a forearm. Horrified and fascinated I scrutinize the person from head to toe, noting facial expression, body movement, clothing, trying to imagine the body emaciated and the face cadaverous--passivity beyond all reach of terror or grief. But I see the once withered number plumped out on an arm expanded with the pleasure of life, and the person who years ago had returned like the messenger in Job to say Only I have returned to tell you is now saying "Kaiser rolls with poppy seeds."
On this particular Sunday a nattily-dressed man emerges from a dark-blue Fleetwood. The people at the counter waiting for their numbers to be called back away from him, so although the store is crowded, arm to arm, shoulder to shoulder, a space opens around him When he leaves I query Jack, the owner: Morton Gilderheim had sailed out of Germany in 1933, going first to Venezuela where he made a fortune. He left behind a wife and two toddlers.
Mr. Gilderheim is not a gregarious man, but he agrees to see me when I plead the extreme urgency of my case. At six, on the evening of January 14th, my seven-year-old Toyota, embarrassingl dilapidated, chugs up a long shrub-bordered driveway to an enormous Georgian house surrounded by formal gardens.
He wears an elegant, grey pinstriped suit and stands in front of three-story leaded windows through which the formal gardens glimmer pink with the oncoming sunset. I feel as though I have stumbled onto a stage play and am about to deliver the wrong cue
to the wrong actor.
"How do you know when somebody is trying to kill you? How can you be sure? How did you know it was time to leave Germany before anyone else knew?"
He laughs ruefully and answers with only a trace of a German accent, "Perhaps the children did not know, but everyone above the age of twelve knew we were in mortal danger at the same time
I knew . . . .