City of Life, City of Death: Memories of Riga is Max
Michelson's stirring and haunting personal account of the Soviet
and German occupations of Latvia and of the Holocaust.
Michelson had a serene boyhood in an upper middle-class Jewish
family in Riga, Latvia--at least until 1940, when the fifteen-year
old Michelson witnessed the annexation of Latvia by the Soviet
Union. Private properties were nationalized, and Stalin's terror
spread to Soviet Latvia. Soon after, Michelson's family was torn
apart by the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. He quickly
lost his entire family, while witnessing the unspeakable
brutalities of war and genocide.
Michelson's memoir is an ode to his lost family; it is the
speech of their muted voices and a thank you for their love.
Although badly scarred by his experiences, like many other
survivors he was able to rebuild his life and gain a new sense of
what it means to be alive.
His experiences will be of interest to scholars of both the
Holocaust and Eastern European history, as well as the general
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