Just Published (2020) Second Edition





  In July 1938, the young Austrian Kurt Reiner had everything to look forward to. A 25-year old Jewish engineering student at Vienna’s Technical College, he was newly married to Hennie, a beautiful 19-year old high school graduate skilled in multiple languages. But just four months later, on November 10, 1938, Kurt was arrested by the German Gestapo in what became known as Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass” and sent to  Dachau, the first concentration camp opened in Germany  and one of the most brutal.  To rescue her husband, Hennie courageously confronts a Gestapo agent, an act of bravado that is instrumental in securing his release from the camp. After landing for several months at Fischamend , a farm labor camp monitored by the Nazi SS, the couple discover a pathway into Italy. Recognizing that Italy's fascist dictator, Mussolini is progressively consenting of Hitler's anti-Semitic policies, they manipulate their way across the border into France. As if their emigration plight wasn't difficult enough, it is again stalled when Kurt is arrested as an Austrian/German "foreign enemy" only days after they reach Marseille and France declares war on Germany. 

Kurt and Hennie Reiner - July 24, 1938


  The name of this book could be alternately titled Escape from Europe or Journey to Freedom or any one of a number of descriptive terms of flight easily justified by the substantive and underlying nature of the text. However, critical to the final selection of the book title was the prevailing theme from beginning to end that Counting on America was the lifeblood inspiration for the newlyweds as they persevered in the face of multiple challenges. The fact that they survived was nothing short of amazing, but without question it was due to their unconditional commitment to one another and unyielding faith that they would be embraced by America.  



   Remarkably, as the memoir is pieced together by the co-author and son, Gary Reiner,  a tangential theme became apparent  when some of the notable personalities mentioned were “Googled.” As a result, it was discovered that Kurt and Hennie inadvertently met up with more than a half dozen strangers that after the war were recognized as renowned world villains or heroes. Villains include Odilio Globočnik, the SS Leader given the mandate to carry out the Aktion Reinhard, the Nazi code name for the extermination of European Jewry; and SS Oberführer Hans Loritz, a Dachau Commandant in 1939. Heroes include Ho Feng-Shan, China’s mission chief in Nazi-occupied Vienna, honored in 2000 by Yad Vashem with the award, “Righteous Among the Nations”; and Hiram Bingham IV, U.S. diplomat, honored with the “Courageous Valor” award by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2011. As the story unfolds, it appears likely that each of these characters competed in their own way to determine the Reiner's ultimate fate. 



Michael Berenbaum (former project director during the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) writes: “We are at a transitional moment in the history of the Holocaust between lived history and historical memory. And the second generation, the descendants of survivors, must assume an added burden for they were closest to that lived history. They are its continuity. Gary Reiner provides a model of what can be done, what should be done and what must be done.” According to Gary, "Every attempt was made to capture the experiences of my parents and project the emotional and historical significance of what Jews in Europe endured. It was what I endeavored to accomplish in order to make the causes and events of the Holocaust more understandable to our children and successive generations."


  TO ORDER FROM AMAZON, GO TO: www.amazon.com/Counting-America-Holocaust-Chutzpah-Romance/dp/1628656476

Growing up as a first-generation, American child of a Holocaust survivor, I am aware that neither I nor most of my Jewish friends understood the significance of the Holocaust nor the  lessons it advanced to people of all religious persuasions and ethnicities. I was also not aware of what my parents had experienced in Europe, or what it took for them to reach the United States.  For example, I did not learn 

until my late teens that my father spent three months in Dachau, a notorious holding facility 

for “undesirables” that resulted in the murder of tens of thousands of persons. My father, of course, spoke of such matters when he began producing his memoir. My mother, quite frankly, could never overcome 

her tears to speak of the Holocaust even as the subject was broached.  

Helping put together my parents’ story completely changed my understanding. First, I discovered that the murder of 6,000,000 Jews was more than just a number. In the absence of context, it is difficult to connect with events that have no relationship to your own reality.  In essence, my parents' story demonstrates through dramatic circumstance, including political-social discord, financial and emotional duress, why the Holocaust 

is not simply explained by anti-Semitism. Importantly, I came to appreciate what it must have been like to live during times when political forces gave rise to violent social discord; as well as scrambling to endure within an environment of racial hatred targeting Jews-- the end goal being their complete annihilation. 

Second, I came to recognize how brave, creative, lucky and in love my parents must have been as they strategized and maneuvered to survive their ordeal. Further, there are so many instances in which they barely managed to beat the clock (that is, narrowly escape), that one has to seriously consider the advent of divine intervention. Finally, I came to appreciate the need to remain vigil and alert to  the danger signs of the scapegoating of ethnic and religious minorities. In fact, that may be the most important lesson of the book.  


Gary Reiner, Co-Author and Son  




Drop us a line!


Counting on America


  • The linkage of 'Chutzpah' to both luck and Divine Providence is key---offers great deep and new details to the horrible holocaust accounts---and done in a personal sensitive familial way. Things like "red Falcons" and political party brawls really adds jest--some insights very important---role of fear, especially among older Jews in Vienna---and often 'deaf ears' of victims---combined with New Years tale and drunk Frenchman and lice and scams...all make for intriguing combo.
    --this is a wonderful, sad, funny family tale.
    I know it is virtually impossible to compare the holocaust and Hitler with any situation---our current crisis of world sufferings and refugees is still heard around the globe but the din gets fainter and fainter...

    Jack Hogan

John P. Hogan
McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values
Catholic University
Washington, DC

  •   While I’ve read many historical accounts of Holocaust survivors, I was struck by the immediacy of Kurt’s story. He showed me a new side of Vienna before the war, and I was fascinated by the Red Falcon youth group he belonged to and the other activist movements of the young and socially conscious Viennese citizens who valiantly sought to curtail the growing fascist threat to their society. He also shed light on the earlier uses of places like Dachau and the farm where he and Hennie sought refuge while they worked out an escape plan; places where one could still leave during those early years, if indeed, you were able to survive, places not yet simply an endpoint.
    Each of the Holocaust survivors' accounts that I’ve been privileged to read has been illuminating and invaluable as witnesses to what happened and must never be allowed to happen again. Kurt’s story filled so many voids in that tapestry of memories. He shows his reader a glance at the vibrancy, culture and political activism of pre-war Vienna, and shares so much of his early life with his family. I finished reading this book both inspired by his courage and resilience and infinitely saddened at the realization, once again, that the millions of voices of those who died in the camps would never have a chance to be heard. Counting on America: A Holocaust Memoir of Terror, Chutzpah, Romance and Escape bears witness for them, and it is most highly recommended. 

5 Stars - Jack Magnus  for Readers' Favorite 

  •   A number of features separates this from others; from struggles between hierarchies in the camps  to attempts to obtain visas and emigrate under conditions that separated husband and wife: "Personally disheartening was not hearing back from the United States for months on end, as well as our concern of finding a way to afford the exorbitant travel costs to America should our visas be approved. In addition, communication between Hennie and me was typically restricted to letters and postcards." From the camps to America and the realities of living in a small Portland Jewish community and becoming noted as a Holocaust survivor, the authors provide a powerful documentary of not just two lives saved, but tests of faith, acts of individual heroism, and the realities of efforts made by Jewish and non-Jewish peoples both during and after the war: "The reality that many non-Jews were sensitive to the Jewish plight during the Holocaust is important to acknowledge; however, many non-Jewish persons were either not in a position to help or were too frightened to act." While no Holocaust collection should be without Counting on America, it is hoped that its themes and approach will also reach into general-interest collections interested in accounts of immigration challenges and the ideals of what America actually offers to refugees seeking peace. Highly recommended! 

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

  •     Counting on America made a big impression on me.  The story is powerful, gripping and moving.  The apt headings inserted throughout the book enliven the story and carry the reader forward. The photographs and contemporaneous materials add an authentic - and sometimes chilling - historical record of all that befell your parents on their journey to freedom.
    I've read many works of fiction and nonfiction about this dark time in history, but I've never read a first-person account that was as compelling as your dad's.  Thank you for the honor of letting me see this amazing labor of love that you have undertaken to bring your father's words alive to inform and enlighten future generations.   

                      Joanne Wyss 

Former Director of Communications                 McKinsey & Company  

WELCOME! Check out the top navigation bar. Enjoy the content! Did you find the Chapter Excerpts?

There's much to see here. So, take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us. We hope you enjoy our site and take a moment to drop us a line.