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Let Me Go

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  728 ratings  ·  133 reviews
A powerful memoir in which Helga Schneider describes her relationship and final encounter with her mother, a former SS guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In 1998, Schneider is summoned to her 90 year-old mother's nursing home in Vienna. The last time she has seen her mother is 27 years earlier. Then, she had asked her to try on her treasured SS uniform, and wanted to give her sev

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Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,265)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
At times it was difficult to continue reading this book. I stayed with it because of the mother-daughter connection. It would be hard not to feel revulsion toward oneself, knowing you were spawned by such a despicable creature. It sickens me just to think I'm a member of the same species as Helga Schneider's mother. We're not really the same species, though. I am homo sapiens and she was homo monsterus horribilis.

It's bad enough that a woman would abandon her two small children without hesitati
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Sabrina Van Goethem
I have been very interested in the Holocaust for a long time, and I've read quite a few books on the subject, but I'd never heard of this book before. I accidentally stumbled upon it whilst browsing the online catalogue of my local library, and seeing it got very good reviews on here, I decided to borrow a copy.
The book is written by Helga Schneider, who was abandoned by her mother at the beginning of WWII, when she was only a little girl. Her mother decided joining the SS and becoming a guard a
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Michelle
This is a deeply compelling and disturbing chronicle of a daughter's final visit with the mother who abandoned her decades before in order to become a prison guard at Auschwitz. The author wrestles deeply during the visit as she seeks to understood what possibly could have motivated her mother to make the choices she did. She weaves in her personal history as she attempts to relate to and reconcile with the senile stranger she hasn't seen more than a handful of times in 30 years. She probes her ...more
Jennifer
What a strange read. I felt conflicted most of the time when reading this account. The style of writing is nothing special, but the content is quite haunting, though not in a good way. This is the account of an obviously confused and troubled daughter who has been abandoned by her mother when a small child so that the mother could serve Hitler in the SS. Helga (the daughter, and writer), though in her 50s now, has understandably been tormented by imaginings of what her mother did and saw as a gu ...more
Denis
An important, emotionally intense and difficult book, which should be requisite reading for anyone trying to understand what happened in Germany during the Nazi era. It is, basically, the portrait that a daughter makes of her own mother, an unrepentant and ferocious jewish-hater Nazi who, decades after the fall of the regime, still hangs on to her despicable beliefs. The frankness and discomfort of the author are heartbreaking. She tries to reach out to her mother when the latest is gravely ill, ...more
David
This is a gripping and heart-wrenching memoir, that "spoke" to me on several levels. The author was born in Poland in 1937, and grew up in Berlin. When she was only 4, her mother abandoned the family to join the Nazi SS cause. She worked in the concentration camps, assisting in the work of genocide. Her daughter learns the terrible truth years later and spends decades of her life with no contact with the mother, until learning that she is becoming senile and weakening in a nursing home. She relu ...more
Nita
Brutal. Simply brutal. I listened to it on CD and had to stop listening several times. First, there's the reality. The mother was an SS guard at birkenau concentration camp. The book includes details of atrocities to Jewish men, women and children that are very difficult to hear. I listened because I never want to forget.

Unfortunately, more difficult to hear was the daughter's voice. I don't mean the woman who was reading the book, not that voice. No, it was the daughter's writing, her attitude,
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Judy
The searing, heartwrenching, courageous, and horrifying account of a daughter's second visit in 57 years to her German mother who abandoned her when she was four years old to join Hitler's SS. Interspersed with a telling of the events of the visit are the author's memories of her childhood and of her previous visit to her mother in 1971. I recognized many German attitudes and behaviors from my own experiences with growing up with a German mother who lived through World War II, and the book has e ...more
Eva Leger
This is a great book- it's the story of a little girl who was abandoned at a very young age along with her small brother and father by her mother. Her mother decided she'd join the SS and went to work in the camps. I can't say it's the best book on the subject as a whole but it's a different perspective than I've read before and it accounts her mother still at a very odl age, not showing a bit of remorse for her actions. In fact, her mother shows the exact opposite even very near death. This goe ...more
Kris
A true story about a young girl whose mother was active extrremely committed to the Nazi party, so much so that she essentially abandoned her husband and young children because of it, joining the SS and becoming a concentration camp guard. This narrative is written by her daughter and tells some of her mother's story and also their final meeting at a nursing home, nearly 60 years after she left in 1941. Her mother's lack of remorse is chilling. The language in the book is a bit stilted at time, ...more
Judy
Aug 16, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII buffs and memoir-lovers
I'm seeing you again after twenty-seven years, Mother, and wondering whether in all that time you have understood how much damage you did to your children. I didn't sleep a wink last night. It's almost daylight now; I've opened the shutters. A smoky veil of light is brightening above the roofs of Vienna.

I'm going to see you again today, Mother, but what will I feel? What can a daughter feel for a mother who refuse to be a mother so that she could join Heinrich Himmler's evil organization?

Respect
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Colleen
I just had to read this book because the premise is so unbelievable. The author's mother voluntarily abandoned her husband and children to become a Nazi guard at Auschwitz. It's very difficult to believe someone would do that. The author's mother is an absolutely unlikable human being. Besides the horrible things she did to her family and with her life, she's just a nasty woman. I don't understand how the nursing home where she lived was so accepting of her, almost cherishing her. They put up wi ...more
L.n. Drunkengoth
It's difficult to express how much I thought of this book.

The final meeting between a woman and her mother who is still the strong manipulative woman she once was, but also confused and disorientated by the ravages of dementia. The woman was abandoned by her mother at the age of 4 for the Waffen SS, treated unkindly by her stepmother, and still desperately seeking a connection that has never, and will never, be there.

I was left, just as the author appeared to be, wondering if the mother was tell
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Adonica
The story of a daughter dealing with the fact that her mother worked at a Concentration Camp. I didn't know what to think when I started listening, but I was quickly drawn into the story. Interesting, and heartbreaking, listening to this terrible portion of history told from this angle.
Elli
Let Me go by Helga Schneider. It's a short book 165 pages, but vey intense as well. Helga and her brother and father were left when her mother decided to abandon the family in favor of going for advancement in the Nazi party and the SS, sentiments which she held to her dying day in complete contrast to her daughter's. The meeting and the conflict was totally painful to the daughter. The woman was intelligent, a fanatic, and a manipulator especially where her own wants were concerned. No one was ...more
Daisy
Should I be ashamed if, every now and again, instinct, my instinct as a daughter, gets the better of morality, of history, of justice and humanity?

The failed story of a mother and a daughter. A non-story.

No, I don't hate her. It's just that I don't love her.


This is confusing. It's heavy and depressing on so many levels.
Abandonment, forgiveness, war and evil...
Helga Schneider's mother leaves her in 1941 to follow her beliefs in the Third Reich. They next meet in 1971 and then again in 1998, the
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Chiara
Tua madre ti abbandona per fare la guardiana a Birkenau,come puoi sopravvivere a questo dolore?
Questo libro racconta del rapporto mai nato tra una figlia abbandonata e una madre rigorosa e dedita alla causa nazista partendo dall'ultimo (?) incontro tra le due donne.
Bellissimo.
Isabella S
Let Me Go by Helga Schneider is a chilling book that keeps you on the edge of your seat until you read the last sentence. The book is about Helga Schneider's mother leaving her and her family to become a Nazi guard. After very many years of not seeing her mother, Helga becomes interested in finding out why her mother chose to become a guard for the Nazis and if she had any regrets. Eventually Helga decides to visit her mother in Vienna before her mother dies. Helga asks her mother if she regrets ...more
Hermien
I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to know that your mother was a guard in Birkenau and is actually proud of it. Helga was probably better off not to be raised by her mother, but I can understand that it did leave a big gap in her life.
Dixie
Read a review in paper on this one. Got from Kindle Library. It was a very interesting Memoir by a woman whose mother left her & her Dad and brother in 1941 to be an SS Guard in the worst camp, Auschwitz II - Birkenau - she assisted Mengele under Himmler in all functions, experimental surgeries, the killings, etc. Birkenau was the largest of the Auschwitz facilities, held 90,000 prisoners & a group of bathhouses where countless people were gassed to death, and crematory ovens. It's thoug ...more
Barbara
Once I started to read this book, I couldn't put it down! Helga Schneider has an important and disturbing story to tell. Helga's mother abandoned Helga in 1941 when she was a young girl. She also abandoned her husband and a baby son. She left to become an SS guard at Auschwitz. Helga grew up not undertanding how her mother could have left her. The focus of this memoir is Helga's meeting with her mother 57 year later. Her Mom was in a nursing home and Helga went to visit her. She questions her Mo ...more
Elise
This book is so short, but i think is enough for what the author wanted to transmit . The main idea's book is the non- existent relation between a mother and daughter and how it affects both of them.
When the mother talks about her past work at SS, it really creep me out, how she did not regret anything what she done. Helga has a sea of feelings about her mother: a monster, a liar, an hypocrite, but her mother at last (even it is not love in the equation). This book is not for everyone, but i rec
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Matthew
Ultimately, this book was an amazing psychological profile of a female prison guard assigned to various Concentration camps during WW2. While this was the eventual focus of the story, the lead up to that insight was tedious and a bit...obvious.

The author saw fit to tell us over and over again, early on, that she hated her mother, clearly assuming the audience would preemptively hate her mother, and so she'd better tell the reader she is with them. I saw this as unnecessary, since a form of revu
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Guillermojimenezespneo
Un claro ejemplo de las sociedades pro socio o psicopáticas lo constituyó la Alemania nazi (o el México priísta actual o pasado) con sus aberraciones totalitaristas y sus pretendidas soluciones finales. Régimen de asesinos con el más profundo desprecio por la diversidad humana. Régimen de crueldad y horror cotidianos. El Estado de terror banal e intrascendente capaz de imaginar e implementar la manera más eficiente de matar seres humanos. Y hay personas impregnadas de megaestupidez que niegan la ...more
Lee
I really don't know how to 'star' this intense book. It left me shaking & nauseated, needing decompression.
It is brutally honest & descriptive, & for that reason it is immensely important as a Holocaust record, revealing stories of voiceless victims who endured unspeakable horrors, as well as the hateful beliefs that compelled so many to make the choice to commit such horrendous crimes.

I doubt it was intended to be a Holocaust record, but rather a therapeutic memoir - the beginning
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Kris McCracken
Let Me Go by Helga Schneider is probably the most frustrating book I’ve read in a while. It is another autobiographical text, one that probes the (non-) relationship between absent concentration camp guard and convicted (and unrepentant) war criminal mother, and angry, resentful and self-absorbed daughter.

Again, I understand that the concept of an autobiography is essentially a narcissistic one, when the two central figures in the piece are so loathsome – for very different reasons – it can be h
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Shirleen
This is a daughter’s true story of a visit with her mother who is in a nursing home. Helga Schneider has not seen the mother in over 30 years, has been estranged from her with hard feelings because the mother abandoned her and her brother when they were very young (her brother was still in diapers and Helga was probably about 5 years old or so) to join the Nazi SS during WW2, leaving them completely alone in the house until an aunt arriveed to get them. Helga finally musters the courage to visit ...more
Lain
I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. But something was missing for me.

Schneider tells the story of a meeting with her 90-year-old mother, a former [...] and concentration camp guard whom Schneider has seen only once since the woman abandoned her two children and husband to join the SS.

The confrontation is filled with horrors -- admissions of participation in horrendous medical "experiments," culpability in the torturing of prisoners, and a firm loyalty to the beliefs of the [...]
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Stella Fouts
If you're tempted to complain about your mother, you'll refrain from doing just that once you've read Let Me Go by Helga Schneider. Everything a mother could do to her children pales in comparison to what Helga's mother did.

Although Helga's mother abandoned the family when Helga was four and her brother just eighteen months old, even that is nothing. You see, Helga's mother was a Nazi SS guard in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbruck, where she was responsible for beating and assisting in the tort
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Ruth
Very disturbing. Helga's mother Traudi was an extermination guard in Auschwitz and Ravensbruck and was involved in Nazi medical experiments.She never expressed any remorse and now in her 90's and in a care home,Helga goes to visit her to see if she can find a way to forgive her.
This is quite frightening,as we hear Traudi talk about the past and through her we hear about the horrific treatment of particularly Jewish people.What's worse is she still feels she did the right thing.
However it is stil
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13241
Nasce nel 1937 in Slesia (territorio tedesco che dopo la seconda guerra mondiale sarà assegnato alla Polonia). Nel 1941 Helga e suo fratello Peter, rispettivamente di 4 anni e 19 mesi, con il padre già al fronte, vengono abbandonati a Berlino dalla madre, che arruolatasi come ausiliaria nelle SS diverrà guardiana al campo femminile di Ravensbruck e successivamente di Auschwitz-Bierkenau.
Helga e Pe
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More about Helga Schneider...
Il rogo di Berlino La baracca dei tristi piaceri Stelle di cannella. L'ombra di Hitler sulla vita di David e del suo gatto Heike riprende a respirare Il piccolo Adolf non aveva le ciglia

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