Above Water deals with the effects of Nazism on the life of Harry Rosen, a Latvian Jew.
Harry has to endure the inferno of the Riga ghetto. He escapes from the ghetto and finds a hiding place in the apartment of Anna, the sister of a friend.
After the liberation of Riga, Harry marries Anna and studies at Riga University.
Harry and Anna decide to go to the United States. In New York, Harry publishes a book on modern history, he goes to Germany, In Berlin, he has an encounter with the now former SS officer he tricked thirty years before in Riga when he escaped from the ghetto. The German does not recognize Harry.
Harry’s German tour has ended. He has gathered the needed material for his next book.
At eight o’clock sharp Harry stood on a corner of the “little ghetto”. That was the place he was ordered to wait for an SS man he had spoken to in the afternoon. Harry was worried. Perhaps this rendezvous was a joke that could cost him his life.
Harry had realized that hard labor for the German war machine was going to break him down completely in a couple of months. He had made up his mind to escape from the Nazi hell.
More than three months ago, his mother had been marched to a “special camp” along with thousands of Jewish women, children, and disabled. Harry had a foreboding that he would never see his mother again.
It was a risky trick Harry was going to play to get out of the “little ghetto”, where able-bodied Latvian Jewish men spent the night. The “big ghetto” was now occupied by Jews from Austria and Germany.
He had noticed a young SS man who seemed rather approachable. Harry told him that he knew of a Riga apartment in which the former Jewish owners had hidden a lot of valuables.
Now, it was already past eight. Harry was nervous and despondent. But there they came…the SS man and his comrade.
Harry had not expected such a positive reaction to his hint. The Germans gave Harry an SS uniform and army boots. They ordered him to put them on.
Then they got into a military vehicle and soon reached the city center. The SS man driving the car asked for directions to the building that had the mysterious treasures.
Having arrived near the building, on the corner of Matisa and Krishyana Barona Streets, Harry asked the Germans to wait for a couple of minutes. He would find out if the apartment was still empty. The Germans trusted him. They didn’t have any suspicion that the Jewish prisoner might fool them.
Harry had known this building since childhood. There is an entrance on Krishyana Barona Street and another around the corner on Matisa Street. If you know the long hall connecting both entrances, you can enter the building on Krishyana Barona Street and leave it on Matisa Street.
That was exactly how Harry got rid of the Germans. He left the building on Matisa Street and went on towards the medieval part of Riga. To get there he had to pass Adolf Hitler Street, formerly known as Liberty Street. His way led him to the boulevard with its big monument erected in honor of Latvian independence. There were not many people on the street. Nobody paid attention to the fast-walking SS man.
On his way, Harry imagined how enraged the two Nazis would be…fooled by him, a Jewish prisoner…and how they would curse him. He was aware that having outsmarted the SS men was only the beginning of a risky path to freedom.
Harry reached the building on Valnyu Street, where an old friend of his, Alexander Kieslowski, had lived before the German occupation.
He had made Alexander’s acquaintance at Riga University several years ago. Alexander hated any kind of totalitarianism. But who could know how people might react to unexpected requests in these terrible times?