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Those Who Save Us

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  69,071 Ratings  ·  5,376 Reviews
For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of ...more
Paperback, 479 pages
Published May 2nd 2005 by Harcourt Books (first published April 5th 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 23, 2007 Lorna rated it did not like it
Ugh. What a terrible and yet compelling book. It's the oddest thing. I swung back and forth between giving it one star and giving it four. I chose one because overall it was terribly clunky and awkward. I felt as though the story was in the hands of an amateur who botched up too much to make the overall experience enjoyable. Or, as if the struggle to write was too obvious: here are only a few of my complaints:

* Mixed metaphors
"The arctic are is like shards of glass in the lungs; it shakes Trudy
Jun 12, 2007 Sammy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-the-best
This is one of those books that make you go, "Wow." And I did go, "Wow," when I put it down. Blum takes an enormous risk writing from the German perspective of the Holocaust, but it's a much needed risk. It's amazing how people still frown down on all Germans involved in the Holocaust, how persecuted and hated they became once WWII was over.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the actions of the German's who openly participated in this senseless genocide. And there is of course that even
Jenna Blum
Feb 28, 2010 Jenna Blum rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This was the best debut novel I ever wrote!
Mar 18, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
How good was this book? So good I want to tell everyone about it, which in turn caused me to remember I joined this site but never posted on it because I hadn't been motivated until now.

Anna is a young woman living in 1940s Germany who becomes involved in a relationship with a Jewish doctor -- you can guess without me having to say anything the far-reaching consequences this will have, and it sets into motion all that follows.

Fifty years later her daughter Trudy, a professor of German history at
Jun 02, 2011 Teri rated it did not like it
Shelves: mca-book-club
I found all the characters in this book to be tiresome and two-dimensional, often behaving unrealistically.

Like Trudy, the woman who dresses as if she's in mourning for 50 years because she thinks she has a Nazi father.

Or Max, the kindest and quietest soul, except when with no warning he pounces on the 19 year old Anna for rough sex without seeking consent, impregnating her with no regard to how her tyrannical Nazi father will react.

And then Anna all but forgets about Max once she begins seeing
Jun 07, 2009 MaryTank rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
Recommended to MaryTank by: Pauline
Well written, fast read. I have often wondered how and why the German people accepted what was happening during WWII? This book describes how many, if not most, were just trying to survive during difficult times. However others truly believed in what was happening which is called patriotism regardless the right or wrong of it.

Contrary to my book club I do not believe Anna fell in love with the Oberstrumfuhrer. I believe she was a victim of the trauma caused by her dependency on him for survival
Mar 12, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maria, Kelly
Recommended to Barbara by: Rose and Elizabeth
Shelves: holocaust-ww-2
While visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, one encounters many horrifying exhibits. There is an huge atrium, with a ceiling which seems endlessly tall. Around this room, covering all of the wall surfaces, there are photographs. There are happy families posing for group photos, babies with their toothless grins, little girls with pigtails, boys flying kites, sober individual shots for graduations, little men at their Bar Mitzvahs,loving couples gazing into eachother's eyes - all ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Jeanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii-era, book-club
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Quite engrossing. A definite page turner and one that I felt I couldn't put down & would stay up to the wee-hours reading. :-)

The imagery was unreal as well. Everything that was described, I could picture/envision. This book was a difficult topic, but the style of writing was easy to comprehend.

So many WWII books deal with stories and tragedies of the Jews (as they should); however, this book, told the story of the sacrifices and occurrences of what everyday
No way was this an enjoyable book! It was excruciatingly difficult....but the end was beautiful, and that saved the book for me. Before choosing this book I read through reviews. One friend says in her review that the main character, Anna, a gentile German, was both naïve and uninformed when the story opens. I certainly agree. This detracts. Putting it another way, several of the characters behave unconvincingly. Their actions are construed. Three examples follow in the spoiler.

(view spoiler)
Sep 24, 2007 Lucy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those intrested in WWII in Germany
Those Who Save Us, written by Jenna Blum, is an historical fiction novel set in Germany during World War II. Anna is an eighteen year old girl who falls in love with a Jewish doctor and finds the courage to finally stand up to her domineering father, a Nazi sympathizer and altogether unkind man, and hide her lover in her own home. When her father turns him over to the Gestapo, Anna leaves and lives and works with a woman who works with the Resistance Movement. Anna, pregnant and alone, is ...more
Sep 21, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kelly by: Santica Shin
This was a very well written book about Nazi Germany told from the perspective of non-Jews who survived the war. I had never really considered what was happening to the non-Jews in Germany during that time, so in this regard I found it to be very educational. The book is told from the points of view of Anna, a mother, and Trudy, her very young daughter who both endured more than is imaginable a the hands of the Nazis. Anna's story is revealed in flashbacks while Trudy's is told in the present ...more
Nov 27, 2007 AriAnne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves history
This book was phenomenal. I couldn't put it down! It is an amazing blend of the German/Jewish experience during WWII, at least from an outsider's point of view, which is how the book is set up. Trudy, the main character, is a peripheral part of the experience in that she was only 3 when she left Germany, and yet she is so integral to the telling of her mother's story, which is also her story. She grew up thinking she was something other that who she is and her mother is trying to protect her and ...more
May 30, 2008 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book kept me up at night, thinking about the topics it explores. While on the surface it is about German people's experiences during WWII, it is about so much more, including the psychological effects of abuse and humiliation. My favorite line comes near the end when Anna's husband asks her if she loved the SS officer. She recognizes how we "come to love those who save us, or rather those who shame us." That's a pretty intense concept.

My only complaint is that the character of Trudy is
Book Concierge
Dr Trudy Swenson is a professor of history at the Univ of Minnesota. After she goes home for her father’s funeral she begins to question her history, and her mother’s silence. She has always know that Jack wasn’t her real father – that he had married Anna and brought her and her daughter from Weimar Germany to the USA after WW2. But the questions about her past will not be silenced, and a research project to record interviews with German survivors of the war forces Trudy to confront her past.

Apr 09, 2009 Jean rated it it was ok
I would not have kept reading this had it not been my Book Club selection for this month. It is another Holocaust memoir type story but this time I am not sure exactly the point of the whole thing. It wore me down and I became weary of Anna and the Commandant's sex life! It just never ended and didn't seem to have a point after awhile. I think the story was way too long; it may have been a much more poignant short story. There just was too much repetitious detail that served no purpose as far as ...more
Oct 13, 2010 Kristina rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2013 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
This book gives an entirely different perspective on WWII in Germany. Unlike so many of the books that are written about Germans who took great risk to help many Jews, this book focus on a woman who took some risk, but was probably more the norm: Someone who did what she had to do to survive. It also explores the aftermath of the holocaust from a German survivor perspective rather than a Jewish perspective while remaining conscious that the Jewish and other minorities were the ultimate victims.

Die Mittfünzigerin Trudy ist Geschichtsprofessorin in Minneapolis. Nach dem Tod ihres Stiefvaters muss sie sich um ihre Mutter Anna kümmern, die nicht mehr ganz zurechnungsfähig scheint. Im Farmhaus der Eltern findet sie ein altes Foto aus der Zeit, bevor Anna in die USA auswanderte. Darauf: Trudy als kleines Mädchen, ihre junge Mutter und – ein Nazioffizier. Trudys Erinnerung ist dunkel, doch sie hält diesen Mann für ihren Vater. Ihre Mutter verweigert jedes Wort zu ihrer Vergangenheit. Dass ...more
Dec 20, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it
Anna was a young woman in Germany during World War II. She struggled to provide for her young daughter as the danger increased and food grew scarcer. Faced with horriffic choices, she becomes the mistress of an SS officer as a means of survival. Fifty years later and a continent away, her daughter, Trudy, now a professor of German history, struggles with the vague memories she has of that time and the true nature of her background. Who is her father? Does the stain of guilt she feels stem from ...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

For some reason I keep stumbling on movies and books about Nazis or the World War. All of them are serious and of course distressing – Those Who Save Us tells a different viewpoint. The point of view for those in the towns who weren’t Jewish, who were Germans who had to do what they could to survive the times.

The story is told between two time periods – between modern times in Minnesota and the years of WWII in Weimar, Germany. Half of the book is told through the POV of the mother, Anna, where
Tanja Berg
Feb 11, 2015 Tanja Berg rated it liked it
Rating 3.4* out of 5. This is a beutifully written story about a young woman - Anna - in Germany traumatized by World War II, and many years later, her grown-up daughter Trudy who thinks she is the child of a Nazi. On the one hand we learn what Anna went through, on the other what Trudy is going through because of her mother's silence. Not knowing who your father was is bad enough, suspecting he was a Nazi and not getting any confirmation, worse.

In many aspects this book is quite ordinary. The a
Nov 11, 2008 Kellie rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book will stay with me for a long time. The story angle is unique and the writing was beautiful. There have been many books written about the Holocaust, but I don’t think that many have been written from the viewpoint of a German woman who lived through WWII as the enemy. Not as a Nazi, but as a German citizen who had to cope with the knowledge, or lack of knowledge, of all that was happening around her.

The author takes you back and forth between Anna’s story during the war and Trudy’
Jun 21, 2011 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Debbie by: Historical fiction readers, WWII readers, Complex Character Studies
“…we come to love those who save us. For although Anna does believe it is true, the word that stuck in her throat was not save but shame.”
When I read the jacket for this book I could never have guessed the outcome that awaited me at the end of this book. From the very first page I was intrigued and spellbound. I was drawn into the historic reality of that some people must have endured these exact traumatic experiences in Germany during WWII. I praise the author for her ability to bring such deta
This book is not horrible but nothing about it was amazing. I felt like I was propelling myself through thick liquid and could not get a good hold of this book. If you are not patient as a reader I suggest not picking up ths read. If you are an easy going reader then the journey is not a loss cause. I did like how the author wrote this book from the German perspective, that was somewhat unique. Things I didn't like were, I really felt no emotional tug in this book, characters were average and ...more
Susan Emmet
Oct 02, 2011 Susan Emmet rated it it was amazing
My second time through Jenna Blum's historical novel of the Holocaust. It's the story of Anna, born in Weimar near the Buchenwald concentration camp, who falls in love with a Jewish doctor and bears his child after he is taken to the camp. One of the camp's commanders, the Obersturmfuhrer, takes her "under his wing," providing food and "education" for her daughter Trudy, as well as rendering Anna his prisoner for sexual "pleasure." Although Horst is an amoral monster, Anna is nonetheless ...more
Nov 03, 2008 Peggy rated it it was amazing
A real page turner. Excellent writing style full of description, narrative, imagery. Author made you care about the main character and all she endured during her days in WWII Germany living as a non Jew. Brutal, sad times. Confirms that one must do what one mjust do to survive.

Good Read !
Jan 21, 2014 Terri rated it did not like it
I'm only about 50 pages into this book, and already I have mixed feelings about it--not because of the subject matter, but because of the writing. We'll see...

...So far the writing includes forced metaphors, awkward dialogue, and a preoccupation with bodily functions and related substances. Ahem.

12/18: Hate to say it, but I'm looking forward to finishing this book so that I can move on to something better. As I believe other reviewers have noted, this seems to be a great idea for a book in the h
Feb 15, 2015 Patricia rated it it was amazing
This book affected me profoundly, I even gasped out loud several times while reading it. If you like historical fiction from the time of the holocaust, you will love this book. The things that people endured, just to survive, are beyond our comprehension, those of us who live our middle class, every day lives with enough food and the freedom to do pretty much whatever we want or feel like doing. I know this book was a work of fiction, but I can't help but feel that the circumstances described in ...more
Hallie Sawyer
Aug 26, 2012 Hallie Sawyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook
Wow. Wow. Wow. This story is riveting, real (understatement of the year), harrowing, heart-wrenching, vivid, engrossing, and troubling and I loved it. Jenna did her research and it shows in this novel. It doesn't choose sides, it just tells. This is not for the faint of heart as the characters endure things that made me cringe, gasp, and clutch my chest. However, that is why this novel is so powerful. My own heritage is German but my family has been here for generations. My grandfather fought ...more
Oct 28, 2009 Randy rated it it was amazing
The pages in this book almost whip themselves from one to another—such a page-turning story has she written, right from her memorable first line: The evening is typical enough until the dog begins to choke.

Anna Schlemmer, a young German woman, endured World War II in both brave and shameful ways. After she and her young daughter move to America, Anna buries the shame of her survival, giving her daughter a legacy of silence. Told from both Anna and her daughter’s point of view, this book with its
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New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004) and THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, May 2010) and the novella "The Lucky One" in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014). One of Oprah's Top 30 Women Writers.
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“Life is so often unfair and painful and love is hard to find and you have to take it whenever and wherever you can get it, no matter how brief it is or how it ends.” 46 likes
“How could she tell him that we come to love those who save us?” 39 likes
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