Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

By the Skin of his Teeth

Anthea Gerrie reviews journalist John Izbicki's dramatic memoir relating a dramatic escape from Nazi Germany

Life Between the Lines by John Izbicki (Umbria Press, £12.95)

    John Izbicki’s autobiography, Life Between the Lines (Umbria Press, £12.95), opens with his memories of running down the street as a five-year-old, exuberantly shouting: “I am a Jew!”. As this was in Hitler’s Berlin, it gave his parents understandable cause for anxiety.

    Izbicki later witnessed Kristallnacht from inside his parents’ shop, and recalls literally running to the station with them in September 1939, hours after air transport out of Germany to England had been halted.
    But they managed to make it and he recounts a colourful career in which, demobbed, he progressed from Paris correspondent to Daily Telegraph education editor and back again. Along the way, he worked with Ian Fleming pre-James Bond, danced with Margaret Thatcher, met Sophie Tucker and got to drive the Duke of Windsor’s Rolls-Royce.

    While there is humour in the book, there is also much grim and poignant detail. Izbicki’s grandmother died in Theresienstadt, days after swapping her wedding ring for a raw potato, and he himself encountered an Auschwtiz survivor in post-war Germany who agonised over being forced to deliver gas cylinders that might have killed his own parents. Later, Izbicki’s first wife died young from cancer, leaving him to raise their teenage son alone.
    With most of his family having perished, he clearly will never be reconciled with Germany, “where Beethoven and Buchenwald, Brahms and Belsen, Schiller, Schopenhauer and Auschwitz go hand-in-hand across the pages of history.”

The Jewish Chronicle

Review: Forty Autumns

Marina Gerner

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Forty Autumns
The Jewish Chronicle

Review: Freud: In His Time and Ours

Stephen Frosh

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Freud: In His Time and Ours
Books

Jodi Picoult - The book that changed me

Keren David

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jodi Picoult - The book that changed me
The Jewish Chronicle

Review: Fascist in the Family

Martin Bright

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Fascist in the Family
Books

Can you solve these knotty problems?

Daniel Sugarman

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Can you solve these knotty problems?
Books

Getting ahead is a slice of pie

Suzanne Levy

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Getting ahead is a slice of pie
The Jewish Chronicle

Review: Reunion

Amanda Hopkinson

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: Reunion
Books

A taste for forbidden flavours

Michael Kaminer

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A taste for forbidden flavours
The Jewish Chronicle

Jodi Picoult competition entry form

Keren David

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Jodi Picoult competition entry form