Remember Us: The Idea Behind the Book

Several years ago Martin Small, in his late 80s, approached Vic Shayne about writing his memoirs. Following a couple of initial meetings, Shayne decided that this project was well worth delving into for two main reasons. First, Martin Small was an outspoken and fascinating subject. Second, his story was literally a hero’s journey.

(Martin Small is pictured to the right at a recent book signing for Remember Us, his life’s story)

Shayne says of the book’s subject, “Martin Small is the rare and wonderful type of person who makes friends wherever he goes. His entire life, by virtue of his extroverted personality and natural curiosity, is marked by the relationships he forges. And he forges them quickly because he’s interested in people, who they are, where they come from, their families, their languages and their customs. It is no wonder that he has mastered more than 10 languages. His inquisitive nature dictates that he jumps head-first into every culture he comes into contact with. Within ten minutes of speaking with Martin Small, he knows all about you. And the reason is that he really cares.”

When you read Remember Us, Martin Small’s story, you’ll see that he started out in life speaking three main languages: Yiddish, Russian and Polish. By the time he was five he was speaking and reading Hebrew as well. After the war, which is a period of great wonder, as covered in the book, Martin Small took a train to Italy from Salzburg, Austria, as thousands of Italian POWs were returning home from Russia. Instantly making friends with an Italian officer, Martin at last made it to Rome and in no time was speaking like a native. He made plenty of friends from Anzio to Ostia to Turin and back.

The second reason Vic Shayne took on this project, as stated, is that Martin Small’s life follows the format of a hero’s journey. An avid reader of Joseph Campbell, Shayne recognized this aspect of Martin’s story right away. He says, “The hero’s journey is a mythical format that offers readers not just an interesting story, but the kind of story that touches you to the core; it is felt in the heart and finds its way to the depths of the mind. The hero’s journey takes the protagonist from his home, away from those he loves and all that is familiar to him and brings him into the world on an adventure filled with obstacles, dangers and even rewards. Martin Small’s book, therefore, reads like a novel, yet knowing that it is true puts you on the edge of your seat. It’s a fascinating adventure, but you would never want to go through it yourself. I am still in awe of Martin Small and all that he has witnessed, lost, accomplished and learned. To me he will always be a hero. Certainly, he has been victimized, but Martin Small is not a victim. He is, in his own words, a survivor. There’s a tremendous difference.”

The hero’s journey finds the hero, by the end of the journey, a changed and wiser individual who sees the world in a new light. Nothing could be more true of Martin Small’s journey from his shtetl in Poland to the concentration camps of the Nazis, wandering as a displaced person after the war, into Italy, and beyond.

Remember Us: From my shtetl through the Holocaust is available for purchase through amazon.com online by clicking here.

Holocaust Survivor Gives Home to Surviving Torah

Martin Small, Holocaust survivor and subject of the new book about his life, Remember Us: from my shtetl through the Holocaust, in a miraculous fundraising effort, has given an old Torah a new home. Martin is donating the proceeds from his book sales to the Martin and Doris Small Torah Fund at his synagogue in Boulder, Bonai Shalom. Within just a few weeks of starting the fundraiser, the synagogue was able to purchase a Torah that, like Martin himself, survived the Holocaust.

Martin, pictured to the left of Rabbi Marc Soloway (photo credit Ken Miller Photography), gazes at the decades-old Torah as it is presented to his synagogue in early August. Martin said, “This Torah, like me, has traveled around the world, lost and displaced. Now it has a home. Now it can finally rest.”

The synagogue was packed to standing room only to witness Martin and his wife Doris as they placed the Torah into the ark during the ceremony. Upon closing the ark, Doris gazed at the new Torah and said, “Welcome home.”

It is believed that before the war the Torah was hidden from its original site in Poland or Germany and smuggled into Israel before eventually coming to the United States.

Bonai Shalom’s Torah, since the inception of the synagogue, has been on loan from another synagogue. Torahs are very expensive because they are handwritten by dedicated scribes who are trained in Hebrew calligraphy. They can range in price in the tens of thousands of dollars. “But,” said Martin Small, “the greatest thing about this Torah is not only that it is the law of the people, but more importantly, that it is a survivor. This is a most symbolic truth. Like the Jewish people, like myself, survival is a miracle, yet it is also a reality that we treasure. The value of our new Torah is in its character, not in its price tag.”

Martin Small read from the Torah while his grandson stood next to him holding a pole from the chupah. Martin said later, “My grandfather taught me the ways of our people. His presence is always with me, guiding me through my life. He was murdered along with my entire family in our shtetl in Maitchet, yet my grandfather remained with me through my darkest hours, through torture and starvation, through Mauthausen concentration camp and while I fought for the last vestiges of my people where we made our stand on the soil of Israel in 1948. Now it shall be to my grandfather that I shall return. I wait for him and he waits for me.”

Remember Us, the story of Martin Small, can be found and ordered at your local bookstore or by clicking here.

Surviving Mauthausen: Martin Small Manages Nearly Impossible Feat

Martin Small, 91, remembers all too well the terrible hell of Mauthausen concentration camp. When the camp was liberated in the spring of 1945 by American forces, Martin had been left for dead in the barracks of the subcamp of Gusen. He was still in his twenties, barely 75 pounds and unconscious when an American GI picked him up and carried him to an Army ambulance headed for a hospital in Linz.

Before liberation, he worked in the crematoria, burying inmates who had lost their lives due to hunger, disease, murder, torture, the cold and death in the gas chambers, as pictured in this historical photograph to the right.

“I still don’t know how I survived,” says Martin Small, who currently lives with his wife, Doris, in Colorado.

Martin’s life story is in a new book called Remember Us: From my shtetl through the Holocaust, sparing the reader with the most gruesome details of Mauthausen, is a work of history and personal struggle for survival. Remember Us focuses mostly on Martin’s shtetl life in pre-war Poland and his plight as a refugee. Yet, if the reader cares to investigate on his own, there are many sources on Mauthausen concentration camp on the internet.

In this photo, above, a guard with a machine gun watches over prisoners in the main courtyard.

For more information on Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria, including photographs, click here and here.

Read what people are saying about ‘Remember Us’

Remember Us, the book about Holocaust survivor Martin Small, has only been on the market for a couple of weeks, yet copies are being sold out faster than distributors can keep up with demand. We are thrilled that this book is so well received, and here are a couple of the first impressions by readers

In his poignant memoir, Remember Us, Martin Small relives his warm family life in the shtetl and the horrors that followed with the German occupation. Survival, however, is the inspiring message of this brave, spirited man. His story is action-packed (to say the least) and I read it in 2 sittings. It is deeply moving and, yes, I will “remember.” It would make a great TV film!!
— Doris Wechter, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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This is the only survivor book I ever read that has avoided the gruesome realities of concentration camps and focuses on other aspects of the Holocaust that I was completely unaware of. After reading about Martin Small’s grandfather, I was truly impressed by the richness of his early life and the gravity of what happened in human terms. This book reads like a novel, but grips you even more because it’s true.

— Ed Jensen, Philadelphia

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One cannot read this story , come away untouched by Mr. Small’s detailed description of his home so many years ago. This book is a monument to all who lost their lives because they were Jews. I have long thought how hard it is to be Jewish and survive in a climate of hate and ignorance.

Martin, may God continue to bless you, have his light shine upon you and bring you peace.

— Ron Shayne, Miami, Florida

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This is a magnificent account of the horrors of the Holocaust as lived by Martin Small. Author Vic Shayne has been able to give the reader the feeling of presence during these horrific events. Mr. Small’s recollection is vivid and tragic at the same time. Having lost 86 members of his family to the murderous Nazi’s and their collaborators he has dedicated his life to memorialize these unspeakable events in his art and poetry. Now his book ‘Remember Us: From My Shtetl Through the Holocaust’ brings his message to new heights with the chant of ‘Never Again’ and ‘We Shall Never Forget’. This Herculean effort should be obligatory reading for everyone so that the horrors of the Holocaust as told by survivor Martin Small to Vic Shayne are understood and remembered forever.

— Pedro A. Rubio (The Woodlands, TX USA)

Holocaust Survivor Martin Small’s Story is Published

rememberusbookcover.jpg Remember Us: My Shtetl Through the Holocaust is available at long last, following more than three intensive years of writing and research.

If you’re unfamiliar with internet searches, simply go to amazon.com and type in the name “Martin Small,” in quotation marks when searching under “books,” then this book will appear. Even easier, Martin’s name also appears on the iuniverse.com website page here.

In a week or so, as articles have been going out publicizing Mr Small’s story, google.com will have picked up his name in connection with the book, which will also add to the ease of locating it on amazon.com and through other sellers.

In the meantime, Remember Us is now available for ordering online or from your bookseller.

This book is widely heralded and is selling out at every book signing. Amazon.com cannot keep up with the demand, so it is easiest right now to order directly from iuniverse.com

Martin Small has a remarkable story

Martin Small, almost 92 years old, is a survivor. He has survived the massacre of his hometown in Poland, a labor camp in Koldichevo, being shot by Ukranian guards in an epic escape into the forests, run-ins with opposing partisan units, the death camp of Mauthausen and the war for independence in Palestine in 1948.

In the photo depicted to the right, which accompanied an article from the Denver Post, Martin shows where he was shot in his right arm while fleeing into the woods after crawling through an escape tunnel away from Koldichevo forced labor camp in 1942.

The details of Martin Small’s life, in his words, “Unbelievable. They are real and they happened, but they remain unbelievable. Why? Because you just cannot imagine the things that I have seen and experienced. They are outside the realm of normal life or expectation. Who, for example, could expect that one’s entire family would be murdered by our neighbors? Or that there could be concentration camps that were set up to put to death little children, mothers, fathers and grandparents? This is beyond mere evil. It is unthinkable. And yet it happened. The human mind cannot grasp all of this.”

Martin’s life story is now available in the book Remember Us: from my shtetl through the Holocaust. CLICK HERE.

Reality of the Holocaust on Film & in Personal Collections

Not enough can be said in protest of those few who deny the reality of the Holocaust. Some of this denial is a thinly veiled means to deny the right of the state of Israel to exist. If the Holocaust can be minimalized then the state of Israel would have no reason to have been formed. But, worse, Holocaust denial is a refutation of the evil that took the lives of more than 50 million people during WWII. It is an invalidation of unspeakable loss, suffering, tragedy, murder and inhumanity. To refuse admission to the evils of the Holocaust is to be counted among the kinds of minds that enabled such events to take place.

Yet, the fact remains that the Holocaust is the single most well-documented event in human history. Moreover, the records of the Holocaust are not the records of the Jews, but rather of the Germans, Nazis, Soviets, French, resistance fighters, U.S. Military, doctors, Poles, prisoners, aid workers, Italians, Dutch, British and others.

Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers brought home with them memorabilia in the form of personally taken photographs and documents to remind them of what they had witnessed first hand upon liberating Nazi concentration camps.

When Martin Small was rescued from Mauthausen concentration camp in Linz, Austria, he was, like thousands of others, a mere skeleton, weighing no more than 75 pounds. He was unconscious and left among the dead in his barracks. The photograph above was taken by U.S. Captain Fabrick who was among the liberating forces first reaching the camp. Capt Fabrick’s photos and evidence appears in the newly released Remember Us, a book detailing the heroic adventures of Holocaust survivor Martin Small.

Although long and gruesome, here is archival footage offering a small sample of what the Allied forces encountered upon reaching the camps:

Liberating Forces Encounter Horrors of Nazi Camps

Elie Wiesel Reviews ‘Remember Us’

eliewiesel.gifNobel Peace Prize recipient (1986), author of Night, Elie Wiesel recently gave his review for Remember Us, the true story of Holocaust Survivor Martin Small.

He wrote:

“Like all Holocaust survivors’ memoirs, Martin Small’s poignant recollections of his experiences in German concentration camps, as told to Vic Shayne, constitute an important contribution to the literature of the most tragic chapter of contemporary history.”

Elie Wiesel’s comments reflect his ongoing commitment to validate the experiences of fellow Holocaust survivors and his work to educate people on the realities of violence and oppression borne of racism and intolerance.

A couple of notes about Elie Wiesel:

For his literary and human rights activities, he has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Liberty Award, and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor. In 1986, Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace, and soon after, Marion and Elie Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

Teaching has always been central to Elie Wiesel’s work. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he also holds the title of University Professor. He is a member of the Faculty in the Department of Religion as well as the Department of Philosophy. Previously, he served as Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972-76) and the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University (1982-83).

For more information on Elie Wiesel and his work, visit his website by clicking here.