Susan Emmet's Reviews > Those Who Save Us

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
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Oct 02, 11

Read in August, 2011

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 somewhat protected by him. However, she lives and works in a bakery owned by Mathilde Staudt, who is a courier for the Resistance. After Mathilde's execution, Anna continues to run the bakery and act as courier. After Germany's fall, once the Allies arrive, Anna agrees to marry an American soldier, Jack Schlemmer, who brings Anna and Trudy to rural Minnesota where he eventually rejects her because of her relationship with a Nazi.
Anna refuses to reveal the truth of her past to Trudy (who in the present tense is a professor of German history) despite her daughter's research work on German war survivors, Nazis and not. In the end, the truth is revealed through an unexpected source.
So much ado about brutality, loss, inability to recover that which sustains, and redemption. So much to again ponder regarding humans' ability to "deal" with what is past in the present and how to go about making a life when there are huge gaps in knowledge and understanding.
A fine book. A hard book. A must-read.
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