Nancy Sprowell Geise

Writer • Author • Speaker

AUSCHWITZ #34207 - REVIEWS

“Debut biographer Geise (The Eighth Sea, 2012) tells the remarkable story of Joe Rubinstein, a survivor of the Holocaust.

The author writes that Rubinstein was born Icek Jakub Rubinsztejn, in Radom, Poland, in the 1920s, “when the world paused from its madness—between the great and terrible war and the one yet to come.” Along with three brothers, he was raised in a devoutly Jewish home. His family was poor, and barely scraped by after the early death of Rubinstein’s father. At the age of 12, Rubinstein was hired at a lumberyard, where he worked to supplement the family income. Later, he learned shoemaking, and in that job, he first became aware of the Nazi movement and growing anti-Semitism. Then, in September 1939, his world changed, as the Germans invaded Poland. Joe and his brother Abe are forced to dig trenches around the city for fortification, and he experienced the cruelty of Nazi commanders who randomly shot and killed people in the work camp. When the Nazis sequestered the Jews of Radom, Rubinstein was taken prisoner––barefoot and in the middle of the night––and shipped to a prison camp at Auschwitz, where he was stripped, shaved and tattooed with the number 34207. He remembered thinking, “You mark me like an item to be sold! Who are you to do this to me?” The harrowing details of his next several years are mind-numbing and nauseating; indeed, Geise’s account of the horrid prison conditions, beatings and mental abuse almost defies human understanding. The disturbing black-and-white archive photographs accompanying the text will nearly overwhelm readers, who may need to take frequent breaks from the material. Fortunately, in the final section, Geise recounts Rubinstein’s inspiring climb out of darkness, as he finds true love, starts a new life in America and, in an ironic twist, becomes one of New York’s most renowned shoe designers. With its thorough chapter endnotes, helpful timeline, extensive research citations and suggested discussion questions, this biography may serve as an ideal teaching tool for students of the Holocaust.

A riveting, well-documented account of survival that’s harrowing, inspiring and unforgettable.”

— Kirkus Reviews


“In sharing his story – with Nancy Sprowell Geise’s help – Rubinstein has made an invaluable contribution to the literature of the Holocaust.”

— BlueInk Review (Starred Review)


“Author Geise has done an important job in presenting Joe’s story to the world, and does justice to a generation whose voices deserve to be heard.
A great read...”

— Myles Friedman, Finelines Pubslush Review Blog


Auschwitz #34207 will join work by Primo Levi on a shelf of classic Holocaust narratives.”

— Foreword Reviews


“Nancy Sprowell Geise has done a remarkable job of telling the story of Joe Rubinstein in Auschwitz 34207 and what a story it is. Taken from his home in Radom, Poland, Joe’s experiences in Auschwitz were delivered with unrelenting honesty. A powerful story, worth being told and retold, one of authenticity and integrity, written so very skillfully.”

— Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute And Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University


“Nancy did a beautiful job of telling my story and all I went through. It’s unbelievable that I’m still here. Unbelievable.”

— Joe Rubinstein, Holocaust Survivor


“Author Nancy Geise presents this compelling story of the strength of the human spirit with extraordinary style and simplicity. Joe’s life will help us all keep the promise to “Never Forget,” as this treasured generation of first hand witnesses are becoming fewer in number. May this work serve to empower and inspire for generations to come.”

— Katharine Teicher, Senior Adult Program Director, Aaron Family Jewish Community Center Dallas


“Joe’s story demonstrates the remarkable resilience of the human spirit to not only survive but also heal from such great atrocities. This well-written book opens a window to the trauma and suffering experienced by one man that is representative of what so many individuals suffer when hate and evil rule the day. That Joe was able to live a happy and full life after what he suffered points us to the hope we can all have no matter how dire our circumstances.”

— Reverend Cindy Frost, First Presbyterian Church, Fort Collins, Colorado


“We’re free. We’re free … The phrase Joseph and Irene Rubinstein giggled and whispered when their harrowing nightmare ended in New York. We’re free. We’re free … A phrase that few Americans today can truly grasp the torment that seeded it. We’re free. We’re free … the Nazis are no more.

Gripping, riveting, appalling, biographer Geise mirrors the voice of Rubinstein as he survives the unspeakable torture and cruelty of the Holocaust....later to become one of New York’s premier shoe designers.

After reading Auschwitz #34207, you are linked with Joseph Rubinstein through a number never to be forgotten.”

— Dr. Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd, Author and Publishing Expert


“A fantastic book! Heartbreakingly descriptive and full of suspense, love, suffering, and victories large and small. It’s an incredible story about a man full of love for life and others. I’ve never read about the Holocaust experiences before from INSIDE the suffocating box car rides, fatal separation lines, and frozen barracks like Nancy Sprowell Geise has described. It feels so painfully real, so tragic, and so inspirational all at the same time! It’s a book I’ll read over and over again. It is a gift to treasure!”

— Sally Robinson, Worksmart USA, LLC CEO


“Words do not come easily to describe the strong emotions felt during the reading of Joe Rubinstein’s story of his surviving the Holocaust. My whole sense of being is somewhat more sensitive and more grateful for our blessings in simple, everyday living actions:
...a good hot cup of coffee in the mornings
...good nutritious food each day
...hot water and soap for daily shower
...a warm comfortable bed
...the love and support of family and friends
...the freedom of speech and choices.
And, with each one, I think of what Joe Rubinstein was able to endure.
Auschwitz #34207 is a marvelous story.”

— Ethlyn Irwin, Retired Occupational Therapist

Copyright Nancy Sprowell Geise © 2017. All Rights Reserved.