First line: The Nazi officers are dressed in black.
Summary: Based on the true life events of Dita Kraus we see the courage and strength of the prisoners of Auschwitz. The story follows Dita, a fourteen-year-old girl, and her parents as they are transported to the death camp. Upon arriving, they are assigned to the family camp. Dita is made to work in the “school” where she meets Freddy Hirsch, the Jewish leader in charge of the children of Auschwitz. Hirsch gives Dita that responsibility of hiding and taking care of the contraband books, becoming the librarian of Auschwitz.
Highlights: I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I do. And this one is beautiful. I absolutely love it. The story is so rich and detailed but heartbreaking at the same time. I have read many accounts of the Holocaust. The strength of the people who lived and endured these hardships is hard to read but they need to be. No one should be allowed to forget these stories and atrocities have happened. I cannot imagine having the courage that Dita has. She was fourteen and risked her life for the love of books and reading. She kept her humanity in the worst possible situation. I loved how the author intermixed the stories that she read into the narrative. We, as the reader, get to experience what kept her going during the dark days.
Lowlights: Several other narratives of fellow prisoners at Auschwitz are woven into Dita’s story. I was confused at times when the story changed narrators.
First line: It is the look on the woman’s face that seems familiar.
Summary: Jennifer Teege was shocked when she learned about her family history while browsing her local library. When she picked up a book and scanned the pictures inside, she was shocked to see her biological mother. As she continued to read, the book followed her mother’s struggle to love her father, Amon Goeth, who was the commandant of the concentration camp depicted in the movie Schindler’s List. Jennifer was adopted at a young age but she had had contact with her biological mother and grandmother as a child. She was never told her family’s past and now she has to come to terms with what they did and did not know.
Highlights: Fascinating story! I have visited Dachau in Germany and felt the heaviness that still surrounds the place. I read this in two days because I had to know more about her and what she learned. The story is interspersed with information and interviews done by one of the coauthors. The pictures were a great addition so I could see what the people looked like.
Lowlights: Some places were a little repetitive. She kept reiterating several key points. I think that it was a strategy to remind the reader but since I read it very quickly they were redundant.
FYI: Originally written in German.
This book was something I came across when checking in returns and was immediately struck by the title. I saw the movie Schindler’s List many years ago but I remembered the basics of the story. I was extremely interested in anything to do with World War II and the Holocaust. I have read The Diary of Anne Frank, Numbering the Stars by Lois Lowry, The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene and so many more. I have been able to visit Germany four times and see historical sites but nothing can prepare you for visiting one of the concentration camps.
My first visit to Dachau, the first concentration camp in Germany, was when I was about 10 years old. It was a scary and disturbing time. I remember asking to go sit outside because I was getting physically sick. I was able to visit a second time when I was in college and could understand the significance of the place and its history.
I re-watched Schindler’s List recently and was once again shocked by the brutality. Spielberg and his film convey the heaviness that these places still carry decades later.
It is important to remember these events and learn from them. As the monument at Dachau says, “Never Again.”