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Those Who Save Us

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  99,387 ratings  ·  6,914 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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Lisa Ratley I read anything and everything when I was young...if I could get to it, I could read it. I read books that were WAAAY more adult than this one...
Sara I noticed it, but didn't have any trouble following conversations or who was speaking. Blum always indicated who was speaking, & I realized how much l…moreI noticed it, but didn't have any trouble following conversations or who was speaking. Blum always indicated who was speaking, & I realized how much less choppy & cluttered the page looked, I preferred it!(less)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  99,387 ratings  ·  6,914 reviews

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Jenna Blum
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This was the best debut novel I ever wrote!
Oct 18, 2007 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
May 29, 2007 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
May 29, 2011 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
Mar 18, 2008 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
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
The contemporary story was as compelling as the historical narrative which is set in Nazi Germany and focuses on the reaction of the German people to the brutality and horror of that war. I felt myself reflected as a lover of history to empathize with Trudy's passionate zeal to uncover the truths so long hidden from her.

In contrast, I felt myself equally sympathizing and understanding why Anna was compelled to keep her own war secrets hidden. One of my favorite parts of the book is Anna telling
Barbara H
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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)
May 13, 2008 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 Ger
Apr 09, 2009 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 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Without giving too much away, this book is a bit grittier than I think some people are used to, even with books that tell a story about the Holocaust/WWII. People tend to think of all Germans as the bad guys, period. And while I agree that a lot of them knew more about what was going on than then let on... it's not so simple as to say, "They were all the enemy." Some of them did very distasteful things to keep themselves and their families alive. You know that saying, "Politics make strange bedf ...more
Apr 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
With respect to WWII, this book was written from a unique perspective, the German’s point of view. It was fascinating, emotional, and maddening. It was also impossible to put down.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This story reminds me so much of "Stones From A River". Blum shows the complexities of war-torn Germany and how people tried to just survive. The book is absorbing and easy to read. Her characters are complex, deep, and utterly "human". A great story.
May 30, 2008 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
Aug 28, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: hf, germany
I didn't "like" the book as indicated by 3 stars but it was a compelling, thought-provoking novel on a difficult topic. I have read many books both non-fiction and fiction about WWII Germany and this was one of the hardest of the fiction category. It focused on one particular woman but symbolized what people will do who are desperate in order to survive or protect their loved one - in this case her child. This was a debut novel in which the author tried to pack too much into it. I was more than ...more
Pam Jenoff
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A heart-wrenching story of one mother's unfathomable choices and sacrifices in order protect her child. More than a decade after publication, this book remains the gold standard for novels set during the Second World War. If you have not read it, you must. ...more
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Up until I read Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum I never considered the shame and the secrets that most of the German women who were caught between the Nazi's and the turmoil concerning the treatment of the people in the Jewish communities and the concentration camps. To make matters worse, the ones that were lucky enough to escape those horrors, after the war, by marrying American soldiers, and immigrating to the United States were usually ostracized by their American neighbors just for being a ...more
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Sonja Yoerg
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On the crowded shelf of WWII novels, Those Who Save Us stands out. Blum's achievement is singular; she writes with power and the story is fresh and utterly credible. I'm in awe. ...more
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.

Sep 26, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I love historical fiction, especially WWII-genre historical fiction (The Book Thief, City of Thieves). I never grow weary of reading about how people survived the deprivation and unbearable living conditions, the starvation, the brutality, the inhumaneness of it all. Wow – I never realized what downer books I read until this sentence! However, this was NOT one of my favorites.

In Those Who Save Us, author Jenna Blum (a former Steven Spielberg/Shoah Foundation historian, who interviewed Holocaust
Apr 06, 2015 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 a ...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
Apr 11, 2013 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.

robin friedman
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Learning To Be Saved

Jenna Blum's eloquent first novel "Those who Save Us", speaks with restraint and conviction about understanding one's past and moving ahead with life. The story combines wisdom and depth with good storytelling. In company with many of my fellow reviewers, I couldn't put the book down.

The two primary characters in the book are are a German woman, Anna, whom we follow from early childhood through old age and her daughter, Trudy, shown to the reader from the earliest times of he
Sep 25, 2008 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’
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JENNA BLUM is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004), THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, 2010), and THE LOST FAMILY (Harper Collins, 2018); the novella "The Lucky One" in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014); the audio course “The Author At Work: The Art of Writing Fiction” (Recorded Books, 2015).
Her first memoir, WOODROW ON THE BENCH,

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