Until Our Last Breath

Written by Laurel Corona Michael Bart
Review by Ken Kreckel

At his father’s funeral, Michael Bart is approached by a mourner who informs him that his parents belonged to a World War II Jewish partisan group in Lithuania. What follows is ten years of research into his parents’ past, a journey which leads him to a very personal view of the Holocaust and a glimpse into a people who, not content with being victims, rose up and resisted the terror. With the German invasion of their homeland, Bart’s parents find themselves confronted by not only the Nazis, but also the enmity of their own countrymen. As part of a partisan group named the “Avengers,” Leizer and Zenia Bart take part in the resistance to this all-encompassing hate.

This is more than a story of faraway Jews caught up in the indescribable cruelty of the Nazis. This one is more personal. The reader comes to know these people, which makes what happens to them all the more poignant. It is particularly interesting in its portrayal of how the pent-up prejudice of their own neighbors is unleashed by the coming of the Germans. It stands as a study of how a people come to resist a seemingly unstoppable force.

The authors have crafted a well written, readable work about a struggle of survival and resistance. By telling his parents’ story, Michael Bart has in no small measure achieved the ultimate goal of the “Avengers”: to push back the forces of evil that so changed their young lives.