From the survivor of ten Nazi concentration camps who went on to create the New England Holocaust Memorial, a "devastating...inspirational" memoir (The Today Show) about finding strength in the face of despair.
On August 14, 2017, two days after a white-supremacist activist rammed his car into a group of anti-Fascist protestors, killing one and injuring nineteen, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized for the second time in as many months. At the base of one of its fifty-four-foot glass towers lay a pile of shards. For Steve Ross, the image called to mind Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass in which German authorities ransacked Jewish-owned buildings with sledgehammers.
Ross was eight years old when the Nazis invaded his Polish village, forcing his family to flee. He spent his next six years in a day-to-day struggle to survive the notorious camps in which he was imprisoned, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau among them. When he was finally liberated, he no longer knew how old he was, he was literally starving to death, and everyone in his family except for his brother had been killed.
Ross learned in his darkest experiences--by observing and enduring inconceivable cruelty as well as by receiving compassion from caring fellow prisoners--the human capacity to rise above even the bleakest circumstances. He decided to devote himself to underprivileged youth, aiming to ensure that despite the obstacles in their lives they would never experience suffering like he had. Over the course of a nearly forty-year career as a psychologist working in the Boston city schools, that was exactly what he did. At the end of his career, he spearheaded the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial, a site millions of people including young students visit every year.
Equal parts heartrending, brutal, and inspiring, From Broken Glass is the story of how one man survived the unimaginable and helped lead a new generation to forge a more compassionate world.
About the Author
Steve Ross, born Smulek Rozental, is the survivor of ten Nazi concentration camps -- including Dachau, where he was tasked with transporting corpses to the crematorium. He was a licensed psychologist for the City of Boston for nearly forty years, and he conceived of and founded the New England Holocaust Memorial, which was erected in 1995 and remains one of Boston's most visited landmarks.
Glenn Frank is a Boston-based real-estate attorney and the author of Abe Gilman's Ending.
Brian Wallace served as a Massachusetts state representative from 2003 to 2011. He grew up in South Boston and as a child met Steve Ross when Ross was assigned to his school as a youth worker. He credits Ross with inspiring him to stay in school and pursue his dream of becoming a politician.
"Devastating...For decades Ross worked with truants and
dropouts in some of Boston's toughest neighborhoods. He had the uncanny ability
to get struggling kids back in school and onto good jobs and even into
college. His pitch: If he could survive what he did, you could survive anything...[Ross']
story is very painful but so inspirational."—The Today Show
"From Broken Glass is a captivating and deeply personal story of a
young boy's experience in the Holocaust, and the ways that event shaped
his life as an adult in America. Ross's remarkably detailed account
stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. It is
relevant to this day, a reminder of what can happen when we lose sight
of the humanity of others in society."—Senator Dianne Feinstein
"While Ross's is a work of history, it feels timely....Donald Trump's presidency has coincided with a marked uptick in
anti-Semitic crimes, including the smashing of two glass panels at the
memorial in Boston last year....One of the most striking things about the book is how [Ross] manages to maintain hope."—The Boston Globe
"Striking, fierce, and ultimately uplifting, From Broken
Glass is the moving story of how one man found his moral purpose in the
crucible of the Holocaust and waged a life-long war against prejudice in all
its forms. Just when we need it most, Steve Ross offers our nation a rallying
cry for how we can overcome the hatred that divides us."—Robert Trestan, New England Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League
profound and compelling addition to the literature of the Holocaust at a time
when it is more critical than ever to understand both the horrifying depths to
which its perpetrators sank and the astonishing capacity for generosity and
compassion of the heartbreakingly few survivors. No matter how many
memoirs of that terrible time you have read, you will find something new in
these pages. There are scenes--a Ukrainian child's shiny black boots
spattered with blood, a father eating his beloved small son's mouthful of bread--that
will haunt me forever. And there are moments also of inspiring tenacity,
nearly incomprehensible open-heartedness that I hope never to forget."—Ayelet Waldman, bestselling author of Love and Treasure
"[Ross] heal[ed] others to heal himself from the horrors of the Holocaust...But the theme that comes through most in From Broken
Glass is how utterly impossible it is for those who suffered this greatest of
human traumas to ever forget, to fix that which broke them more than seventy years
ago."—The Washington Post
Glass reminds us of the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights
that the human spirit can reach. Steve Ross tells a remarkable story of
survival and shows us how a person of good will and character can persevere
through unspeakable tragedy and live a life of generosity and kindness."—Frank S. Holleman III, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education
"Steve Ross emerges as a resilient
character who is determined not to allow the enemies of the past to re-emerge
in the present unchallenged; his book opens with a cri de coeur on
Charlottesville, and it ends with a defiant testimonial: 'I am a
survivor.' A worthy memoir of dark times, full of practical lessons for
resistance and community organizing today."—Kirkus Reviews
childhood, Steve Ross was given every reason to hate, fear, and withdraw, but
instead he has spent his life building a kinder, gentler, more hopeful world.
You cannot read Steve's story and resist his contagious optimism for a better
tomorrow."—Congressman Joe Kennedy III
"Inspiring...Ross's tale is darkly impressive....hope and
resilience live within this man."—The Improper Bostonian
"Steve Ross is a quiet leader for our city in the things we
care about--helping people overcome obstacles, mentoring youth, providing the
power of example....As he did this work, Ross brought people together across all
kinds of historic boundaries--neighborhoods, races, religions. From Broken Glass is inspiring beyond words."—Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston
"A timely and beautiful book." —Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Little Failure
"From Broken Glass is
an opportunity to spend time in the presence of an extraordinary man. No one I
know of has ever responded to unimaginable brutality with such generosity of
deed and spirit, recounted here with understated eloquence."—Congressman Barney Frank, New York Times bestselling author of Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage
tireless work has helped ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never
repeated."—Israel Arbeiter, survivor of Auschwitz
"This moving memoir recounts how Ross, who was born
Szmulek Rozental in Poland in 1931, created meaning for himself after the
Holocaust..An inspirational account of hope overcoming horror."—Publishers Weekly
"An introspective memoir about the power of perseverance and compassion....This account will inspire others to work in their communities to help the 'forgotten.'...a necessary and timely addition to Holocaust memoirs."—Library Journal