Roman's Journey

Roman Halter

Published: 13 September 2007
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781846270338


Roman Halter is an optimistic and boisterous schoolboy in 1939 when he and his family gather behind net curtains to watch the Volksdeutsch neighbours of their small town in western Poland greeting the arrival of Hitler's armies with kisses and swastika flags. Within days, the family home has been seized, and twelve-year-old Roman becomes a slave of the local SS chief and, returning from an errand, silently witnesses his Jewish classmates being bayoneted to death by soldiers at the edge of town. And then there begins the remarkable six-year journey through some of the darkest caverns of Nazi Europe, and the loss of every other member of his family and the 800-strong community of his boyhood. Roman tells his story with a simplicity and grace that allow his suffering and survival to speak for themselves.

About the author

Image of Roman Halter

Born in 1927, Roman Halter was a celebrated architect and arist. He designed the gates to Israel's holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and his paintings, testifying to his experiences during WW2, have been shown widely, including at Tate Britain. He died at the age of 85, in 2012. More about the author


‘A moving piece of writing standing apart from most memoirs of the Shoah.’



‘A unique story told without sentimentality... This is writing after my own heart.’ Aharon Appelfeld

‘Before 1939 and the German invasion, Chodecz had been a peaceful place where Poles, Jews and ethnic Germans lived side by side in seeming harmony. The dissolution of that world, of which he is the only Jewish survivor, makes painful reading, and it is no surprise that it is only now that the story can be told.’

‘Brilliantly effective in conveying the horrors of the Holocaust and the miracle of Halter's survival.’

‘Halter watched his family and friends fall victim to the Nazis when they invaded his Polish village in 1939 and his story of how he survived is simply and honestly told.’

‘He tells his story simply, without rage, as reminder of man's inhumanity to man.’

‘No matter how many memoirs have emerged from the Holocaust, there is always room for more to cast new light on the insane gauntlet of life in the Third Reich. . . The story of Halter's months adrift in Europe following the German surrender is gripping. . . Roman's story is a compelling, compassionate and impressively literary contribution to the writing of humanity on the brink.’ Toby Lichtig

‘Thank you to Roman Halter for this memoir, and thank you to Portobello for publishing it...It is, as the title says, one man's journey, or rather one boy's; and a very telling, and moving, journey it is too...Learn all you can, be realistic about yourself and the world, but never give up hope: these are the lessons of Roman's Journey. They are surely as good for life as for death, for peace as for war.’ Carole Angier

‘The most remarkable man I have ever met. It is a privilege to know Roman.’ Fergal Keane

‘What is particularly chilling about Halter's tale is the way that the evil slowly insinuated itself into his village... This is an impressive book. It can't be "enjoyed" but it should be read. Roman Halter's resourcefulness and courage as a teenager in the worst killing fields of the 20th century were truly remarkable. Halter relates the tale of his extraordinary odyssey in clear-eyed, level-headed prose, free of moral philosophising or pleas for retribution.’

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