Thursday, March 31, 2011

Those Who Save Us

Those Who Save Us
I wanted to review this book but am finding words difficult.  It is a profoundly sad story of a woman who has done much good, but also feels she did some things that are unspeakable in an effort to keep herself and her child alive during the war.  Set in the German town of Weimar, near the concentration camp Buchenwald (where Elie Wiesel, author of Night was at), it's a heartbreaking story of a time in history that is more grey than anything.

The author is a woman who worked for 4 years for Steven Speilberg's Shiloah Foundation interviewing Holocaust survivors.  So her words ring true and are visually stimulating.  You see things very, very clearly in your head.  The horror.  The desperation.  Neighbors turning on neighbors in order to stay safe themselves.  People who both fed the Nazis and fed the prisoners secretly. 

I think more than anything the book showcases a universal truth, that each human being is not simply one sided.  That we are complex.  That life is very rarely black and white but rather variant shades of grey. 

I think that as you get older you learn those hard facts more aptly.  The decision you wish you could change.  The person who surprised you by a side of them you didn't realize they had.  When faced between A and B it's not always an easy choice, the better one is not always clear. 

In this novel you have a woman who is a German young adult who falls in love with a Jew, though her father is continually bringing men from the Reich home to meet her.  You have a woman who spends her entire life thinking her father is a Nazi officer, though you know that he's not.  It is literally right up until the very end that she holds this belief, until a happenstance meeting with a man who answers questions she didn't even know existed until that moment.  And I for one was left with tears, empathetic towards a case where right and wrong are simply two sides of the same coin being tossed without choice. 

Read this book.  It's fantastic.  And quite apt for me as I'll be headed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum this weekend.  This novel will be fresh in my mind as I'm herded onto a train car, as I stand in front of a pile of shoes.  Lest we forget the atrocities of the past. 

1 comment:

  1. I will pick up this book as I didn't last time. It has been on my mind lately as I finished Sarah's Key last year. Another fantastic book! Thanks for the review:) It's difficult to find words after reading about the Holocaust as the emotions tie up knots in your stomach for a while.