The Author

Howard Herskowitz convinced his father Aaron to tell his story despite his dad’s resistance to revisiting those nightmarish memories. When Aaron was seventy-five years old, Howard and his brother Louis accompanied their parents to their hometown Bilke for the first time since the end of World War II. Howard documented Aaron’s story both on film and paper, capturing all the dramatic elements of Aaron’s Revenge. Howard Herskowitz’s upbringing by two Jewish Holocaust survivors fostered a life-long interest in history, with an especially passionate curiosity about the lack of armed Jewish resistance during World War II. When Howard became a lawyer, he always maintained an empathy for the innocent underdog he has represented in conflicts against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Howard experiences the same sympathetic passions in his study of history, where innocent out-numbered people manage to overcome overwhelmingly superior adversaries and achieve victory. Howard has spent many years consulting with historians and witnesses to verify the facts in Aaron’s Revenge. Herskowitz’s passion for relaying his father’s struggles and heroism illustrates his devotion to his family and his love for communicating a significant period in history.

The Modest Hero

 Aaron never boasted about his heroic feats, but as his father’s tale unfolded, Howard began to understand the untold truth kept virtually secret for decades until now. The Jews did not have political leaders in Europe. The Jewish leaders were the orthodox community rabbis, and their ancient beliefs against organized resistance and against emigration to Palestine (the Jews must wait for the “Messiah” to descend from the heavens to lead them to the Promised Land) played an unwitting role in the murder of so many Jews. Aaron’s stories became even more important as his own truth came out: He defied the rabbis and delivered a measure of justice to his former tormentors, and on behalf of those millions of Jews who perished throughout Europe. It is in the small town of Gerjen that Howard’s question is finally answered.

Tough Questions

“So Dad, how many Nazis did you kill?” That’s the haunting question young Howard Herskowitz asked his father, Aaron, over and over. His dad’s storytelling about his hair-raising escapes and heroics during World War II fascinated the young boy. But Aaron would never answer that one question. Another puzzlement to young Howard was why his father would never want to return to Eastern Europe together to relive his exciting adventures with him. Howard was so fascinated with these tales that he dreamed about them, but he didn’t completely grasp the nature of his father’s journey, the horrors he witnessed and the brutality of World War II. As he grew up, Howard found himself plagued by this simple question that has fascinated many historians and observers about the plight of nearly all the Jews during the Nazi occupation: Why didn’t they fight back? After all, the canons of Jewish history are full of tales of heroic uprisings. Didn’t David slay Goliath? What about Judah Macabee’s epic revolt? Didn’t any of those stories mean anything to the Jews who were told by their rabbis not to resist during the Holocaust? The answer is revealed in Aaron’s Revenge.