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Those Who Save Us

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  58,572 ratings  ·  4,824 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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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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
This was the best debut novel I ever wrote!
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
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 4 of 5 stars
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
Sep 01, 2007 Collette rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Marisa, Joy
I was drawn to this book because of the subject matter, having understood that for many women (Jews and Germans both) staying alive really meant doing whatever it took to survive the dangers of wartime in Germany. A riveting story -- and I'm sure that the themes of love and survival were all too common during the war. Be prepared to read some harrowing, brutal passages although if you have read any other graphic accounts of the Holocaust (ficiton or nonfiction) this may not be shocking. I also e ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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 peopl ...more
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 21, 2008 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 da ...more
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
Sep 24, 2007 Lucy rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 ultima ...more
Nov 27, 2007 AriAnne rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.

Tanja Berg
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
Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading*

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
Jun 21, 2011 Debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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’
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 th ...more
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 !
Susan Emmet
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 somewha ...more
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
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
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 ag ...more
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
This is now one of my top favs. I just finished it, and I feel like I am still "in" it. Such a good story of how we can go through our lives not understanding what reality has been for another. And also, how we keep secrets for so many reasons, when if we could only speak we could release ourselves, and people we love... Wonderful book. Wonderfully told.
Diane Chamberlain
Excellent book. I admire how Blum was able to make the contemporary story nearly as tense and suspenseful as the story from the past, which is extremely difficult to do. Trudy's story may not at risk physically, as was her mother, but her psychological well-being is equally as precarious. Great job.
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Author of the New York Times bestseller THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004) and THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, May 2010).
More about Jenna Blum...
The Stormchasers Het afscheid The Author at Work: The Art of Writing Fiction Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion The Best Contemporary Women's Fiction: Six Novels

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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.” 45 likes
“How could she tell him that we come to love those who save us?” 38 likes
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