The Last Witness

Feature

My father used to take me to the local Jewish bakery where this kindly woman behind the counter would serve us. I remember seeing numbers on her arm, but I was just a boy and didn’t know what those numbers meant. Later I found out. One day in the not-too-distant future there is going to be one person left. One survivor. This is what my novel The Last Witness is about.

I’m like many writers in that an idea for a book may germinate over time before any writing begins. That’s what happened with The Last Witness which is set in the year 2039 when the world is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century. Jack Fisher is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where he had to fend for himself to survive as a little boy after losing all his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive.

I did a lot of research to write this book. Even though it’s a novel, I wanted things to be accurate. That meant interviewing such people as noted Holocaust historian Sir Martin Gilbert, meeting real-life survivors who were just children when they were liberated in 1945, and looking into the current state of Holocaust awareness which is not a pretty picture.

Then there is Elly Gotz who spent three years as a boy in a Jewish ghetto in Lithuania. Elly, a remarkable man, was a great help to me with the flashbacks of my novel. Only Elly could tell me that I couldn’t have oranges in the ghetto because there were no oranges in Poland during the German occupation. Only Elly could tell me that German soldiers had rifles, not machine guns, in the ghetto. He could tell me this because he knew first-hand.

TheLastWitness-BookCoverThree years ago I wrote an article for The National Post about sagging knowledge of the Holocaust. I found that a 2007 poll in the United Kingdom showed that 28% of young people aged 18-29 did not know if the Holocaust happened. A survey commissioned two years earlier looked at Holocaust knowledge in the United States and several European countries. It found that knowledge was highest in Sweden and lowest in the U.S.

The Last Witness is being released as an e-book and in print through Story Merchant Books, and is now available at Amazon.


Author Reviews

Jerry Amernic’s THE LAST WITNESS is one of the finest thrillers I’ve read in years. The pages turned late into the night, with real and relatable characters, impeccable dialogue and a riveting plot that provided important information as much as it entertained. Although it is a work of fiction, THE LAST WITNESS is framed with such historical accuracy that it should—in my opinion—be deemed required reading for high school students.

Steven Manchesterauthor of The Rockin’ Chair and other works

Amernic skilfully combines flashbacks, lively personality profiling and dramatic scene-setting in a book that keeps the reader involved to the last page. His theory is that society will one day forget the Holocaust ever happened. The Last Witness is a memorable book that poses both a challenge and a warning.

Ray ArgyleAuthor of The Paris Game, (review published by The Hidden Child Foundation®/ADL)

Disturbingly set in a future built on our too human desire to forget our mistakes, The Last Witness is a riveting read and a fundamentally important lesson.

Gretta Vosperauthor of With or Without God, and Amen

Amernic expertly juxtaposes a future that seems both uninformed and uninterested in the past with a past brought vividly to life with well-researched details, squarely tackling such issues as anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Historical Novel Society

The Last Witness is a riveting account from the near-future, about the man who is the last survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. A rich, multi-generational story that resonates with the lessons of history.

Anne Cleelandauthor of Murder in Thrall, Tainted Angel, and other mysteries and novels of historical fiction

Jerry Amernic’s The Last Witness is beautifully written and well-researched. It is a look into the near-future without Buck Rogers spaceships whizzing around, where the changes tend to be subtle, except where memory is concerned. In the world of 2039, certain inconvenient truths have been more or less erased. That’s what makes a one hundred-year-old Auschwitz survivor so dangerous. An accomplished work, an unusual approach to an oft-written about subject, and a timely reminder about the dangers of forgetting.

Ron Baseauthor of the Sansibel Sunset Detective series

The Last Witness, a ‘what-if’ novel set in the not too distant future, grabs you by the throat and reminds us of how easily we can be manipulated as a people. Could we possibly forget or deny the Holocaust? Jerry Amernic gives us that possible scenario along with a nice history lesson. The novel is heart-breaking and thought provoking and some of the Holocaust flashbacks are not for the squeamish.

J. Findorffauthor of Kings of Delusion, and Unhinged


 

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