I've read a lot of memoirs in the last 10 years written by survivors of the holocaust. Shocking, haunting and enough to make your blood boil, these ar...moreI've read a lot of memoirs in the last 10 years written by survivors of the holocaust. Shocking, haunting and enough to make your blood boil, these are unimaginable stories of loss, pain and heartbreak but also inspiring and motivating.
Surviving the Angel of Death is one of the few Holocaust books that I've read aimed primarily at a younger audience, but that doesn't make it any less shocking than accounts that are more adult-focused. In fact, being lived through the eyes of 10-year-old Eva is in some ways even more heartbreaking.
The writing is honest and straightforward with no feeling of events being romanticized or dumbed-down in order not to shock the reader. As Eva fights for both her own life and the life of her sister, my admiration grew stronger by the line for this tough, spirited child who used her own experiences to help others become inspired and to understand exactly how much forgiveness can achieve.
Enjoyed is not the right word for a book about the Holocaust - enthralled, enraged, saddened and admiration are more apt descriptions, that completely sum up my feelings after I turned the last page.
I've read a lot of historical fiction and non-fiction set in World War II, but A Woman in Berlin is my first book written from the perspective of a Ge...moreI've read a lot of historical fiction and non-fiction set in World War II, but A Woman in Berlin is my first book written from the perspective of a German woman during the fall of Berlin. Written in diary form by an author who asked her publishers to keep her identity secret until after her death, it is a frightening story told in an almost distanced way.
The ability of the author to distance herself from events as they unfold is actually more frightening than if it had been an hysterical rant. One can only imagine that in being exposed to such terror that the only way to survive with any kind of sanity intact is to completely remove your brain from the situation and be an observer, which is exactly what the author does.
There are several incredibly disturbing scenes of rape and abuse in this book, but all of them feel very important to the story, and the experiences that the author and other women in Berlin have at that time are used almost as a bonding exercise. Young girls are hidden by their families for their protection, backyard abortionists abound and among it all, the fight for food and basic survival also continues.
Underneath the horror and degradation that the women of Berlin endure is also a story of very strong, determined women - who want to survive, whatever it takes, and to protect themselves, their friends and their neighbours. The authors journey is particularly difficult as she has only a few close friends to confide in, and as the food supplies dwindle further and further, her situation becomes more and more precarious.
A Woman in Berlin is a sad, but almost uplifting story - the author writes in a matter-of-fact way that evokes sympathy, but not pity. This is not an easy book to read, but it is an amazing account of what humankind can endure, and the way that we can pull ourselves together in the most difficult of circumstances and still look for the positive.