This collection of short stories inspired by the Holocaust and its aftermath marks the debut of a mature writer with unusual skill and vision. Black Grass will bring the author immediate recognition as a significant new voice in the literature of the Holocaust. And then in literature as a whole.

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Inmate 1818 and Other Stories 

The story of a young child in a labor camp, based on his personal experience as a Holocaust Survivor in labor camps during WWII.


Dr. Bernard Otterman was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1937. At the age of three, he and his parents escaped Lodz and fled to Warsaw by moving from ghetto to ghetto, only to be interned in several labor camps. Separated from his father, Bernard and his mother escaped the train line headed for Auschwitz, fled, and hid for six months as fugitives in the Polish countryside until Russian troops liberated Poland in January 1945. His father was first sent by train to Auschwitz, then immediately moved to a work camp in Germany. He also survived, and the family was reunited in Lodz in September 1945 through displaced persons listings. They lived in Germany until coming to the United States in 1951.

Otterman trained in engineering, earned a PhD in the natural sciences, and for many years was on the engineering faculty at Northeastern and Hofstra Universities. For more than a decade he worked and reworked the stories in his anthology, which was based on historical fact. Dr. Otterman’s poems have been published in such venues as Poetry, Jewish Currents, and other journals and compendia. Currently he is completing a novel centered on the life and death of journalist and novelist Arthur Koestler.


The release of Inmate 1818 and Other Stories, (Liber Novus Press, Old Westbury, NY, 2014) a collection of twelve short stories inspired by the Holocaust and its aftermath, marks a new milestone for a celebrated writer with an unusual skill and vision. Bernard Otterman's stories are set in the ghettos and camps of World War II and in the difficult days following Hitler's war against the Jews. The Shoah defines the lives of all characters in the stories -- survivors as well as their children. In the title story, "Inmate 1818," a young boy is smuggled into a labor camp and befriended by an eccentric teenager with a love for astronomy, who gives the boy a gift that saves his life. In "Golem of Auschwitz," a survivor is haunted by the memory of the golem, a mythical creature drawn from Jewish folklore, that he and a Rabbi's son created while in captivity.  And in "Black Grass, " the author turns to the rich tradition of magical realism to respond to the phenomenon of the Holocaust, where the darkness born by this tragedy slowly envelops the world.

BERNARD OTTERMAN is a Holocaust survivor born in Lodz, Poland whose award-winning short stories and poems and have appeared in New Millennium Writing, World/Slovo, Poetry, and Jewish Currents. Inmate 1818 and Other Stories is Otterman's third published collection of Holocaust-related short fiction.


For New York Times article "Birth of a Writer" Click here.
For The Australian Jewish News article "Child survivor pens a Holocaust Story" Click here.
For Merrick Herald article "Holocaust author comes home" Click here.


"Otterman's willingness to engage creatively with the metaphysical questions raised by the Holocaust should be applauded. "
- Marissa Brostoff, The Jewish Daily Forward

"Polish born writer Bernard Otterman portrays the textured worlds of pre, during and post World War II. These are stories of inherent drama, yet there is no exploitation of events here. Often understated, frequently macabre, and somehow wry."
Martha Rhodes, Founding Editor and Director of Four Way Books

Here is historical fiction at its finest, concise and penetrating,. Otterman's vivid tales of life during and after history's darkest hour explore complex issues such as complicity, denial, and shame with sensitivity and skill."
Joshua M. Greene, author of Justice at Dachau and Witness: Voices from the Holocaust

"A tour de force from a marvelous writer who himself survived the wrath of the Nazis."
Harvey Rachlin, author of Lucy's Bones, Sacred Stones and Einstein's Brain

“Holocaust survivor, Bernard Otterman, locates some of his stories in the ghettos and the camps, others in the aftermath of WWII. This double narrative perspective greatly enriches his collection, whose stories are often chilling but always powerful and imaginative. Readers will be captivated by characters they will never forget.” - Patrick Gerard Henry, author of We Only Know Men: The Rescue of Jews in France during the Holocaust