Book Review: ‘Kiss Every Step’

Kiss Every Step by Doris Martin with Ralph S. Martin, Booksurge Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4392-5606-0, ©2009, $14.95, 222 pages

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

Fred Reiss

WINCHESTER, California — The year is 1939. Hitler tells the Reichstag that if war erupts, the Jews will be exterminated. Eichmann is placed in charge of the Prague branch of the Jewish Emigration Office. The Soviet Union’s Molotov and Germany’s Ribbentrop sign a mutual non-aggression pact. Germany invades Poland on September 1. Three days later, the innocent life of little twelve-year old Dora Szpringer (now Doris Martin) is shattered. She can no longer roam the streets freely jumping rope, tossing a ball, or playing hop scotch with her best friend Rutka. The playful romps through the old castle grounds, which overlook the city, are over. The joyous visits to Gipsman’s fruit and ice cream shop have ended. On September 4, the Wehrmacht entered Dora’s hometown of Bendzin, Poland. Within a week, they burn the synagogue and many Jewish homes, with the people locked inside them.

In Kiss Every Step, Doris Martin, together with her husband Ralph, tells the remarkable and disturbing war-time encounters of the Szpringers, a family that miraculously survived the Holocaust intact, as they struggle to outwit Hitler’s army and the by-and-large anti-Semitic Polish population. Some of the chapters are autobiographical, while others are first-person accounts of events told by Doris’ siblings, Isaak, Moishe, Josef, and Laya. Each of them provides a narrative that authenticates the worst of human brutality, allowing us to vicariously experience the wiliness, cunning, and just plain luck that the Szpringer family members used to stay alive in the Polish, Russian, and German countryside.

Over three million Jews lived in Poland at the start of World War II. These unique lives mostly end in death. Thus, we are fortunate that Doris Martin has written about the disturbing episodes of her childhood and teenage years, which allow us to understand everyday life of the Jews under Nazi occupation and to some small degree, understand the terror that enveloped their very existence.

Hitler set out to make the world free of Jews. Kiss Every Step is a compelling account of the success of one family, the Szpringers, in defeating this nefarious plan.

Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of The Standard Guide to the Jewish and Civil Calendars; Public Education in Camden, NJ: From Inception to Integration.; Ancient Secrets of Creation: Sepher Yetzira, the Book that Started Kabbalah, Revealed; and Reclaiming the Messiah.

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