Book Review – A Lucky Child

A Lucky ChildA Lucky Child
Written By: Thomas Buergenthal
Forward By: Elie Wiesel
Published By: Little, Brown and Company an Imprint of Hachette Book Group, 2009, First Edition, 256 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-0316043403
Top Pick

A Lucky Child is the deeply compelling, straightforward story of a boy’s survival in Auschwitz; he retained his humanity despite the horrors surrounding him on a daily basis.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy in his memoir A LUCKY CHILD. He arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and a labor camp. Separated first from his mother and then his father, Buergenthal managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life.
Now dedicated to helping those subjected to tyranny throughout the world, Buergenthal writes his story with a simple clarity that highlights the stark details of unimaginable hardship. A LUCKY CHILD is a book that demands to be read by all.”

The Lucky Child is a poignant memoir, allowing the reader to envision and feel all of the emotions and terror that Thomas (as a young boy) must have felt, while at the same time, maintaining a more detached approach (less gruesome) then many of the Holocaust books I have previously read. I was instantly drawn into this story and pulled into the absorbing narrative; this story is absolutely riveting! This smoothly flowing story has perfect momentum and keeps the reader’s interest from beginning to end. Thomas’ invaluable story really brought the Holocaust ‘home’, to me. As the reader visualizes what life was like for this young boy (and many others like him) during those horrendous times, it makes his experiences even more vivid and heartbreaking. I don’t want to give away any part of this book because it is Thomas’ unforgettable story to tell; only he can properly share with you the misery, wretchedness and the desolation that he felt while he was imprisoned.  Included in this book are 16 beautiful, black & white photographs and a black & white map (2 full pages).You simply MUST read this book!
I very highly recommend this book to everyone!!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Link to Information about the Author:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316043403.htm
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/

** To watch a video interview with Thomas, please click here.

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers

Thursday, September 18, 2008 – original post

Eyewitness Auschwitz,
Three Years in the Gas Chambers
Written By: Filip Muller
Published by Ivan R Dee, Chicago, 1st Ed. By this Publisher, Published in Association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1999, 180 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1566632713

Eyewitness Auschwitz is an exceptionally graphic, in-depth and carefully recounted description of Filip Muller’s horrific, three-year’s in the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz, one of the most infamous Nazi Extermination Camps”

Filip Muller was born in Sered, Czechoslovakia in 1922. He was a young man with the promising future of being a great fiddle player and possibly as a writer.
Then in 1942, Filip was deported to Auschwitz, when he was just 20 years old and his life and indeed his very soul, would never be the same again.
When he arrived in Auschwitz, Filip was permanently tattooed with the prisoner number 29236 and then sent to work in the gassing chambers soon after.
As a part of the Sonderkommando(Jewish prisoners/workers), Filip Muller was forced to work under the threat of torture, deprivation and extermination if he did not do as he was ordered by his captors.
He slaved-away with many other sonderkommando’s, performing tasks that sickened him and shattered his sense of humanity because of his own desire to live just one more day. Filip’s need to survive was not always forefront in his mind and at one point during his imprisonment he was ready and wanted to die; to finally escape from Auschwitz and all of its horrors. His captors had other ideas though and prevented him from ending his life until they decided it was his time to die.
Filip was witness to and or assisted in the physical labour required to gas, cremate, mass-cremate in pits, transport corpses, strip corpses, dig mass graves & cremation pits, remove ashes, amongst countless other ghastly sights and tasks.
He and many others with him, were finally liberated in the month of May, in 1945.

Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers is a profound book chronicling the three-year real-life experiences of Filip Muller who lived to tell his story after the war was over. Without his testimony, there might not have been much first-hand testimony of many small details from the happenings inside Auschwitz.
When I read the excerpt for this book and even as I began reading it, I was so disgusted with what appeared to be a man putting his life above so many others. I was thinking ‘how in the world could he help these people, how could he do their dirty work, when it could just as easily have been him laying there, waiting lifelessly for his turn in the crematory?’. Here I was (as a reader), appointing myself as Filip Muller’s judge & jury, without even hearing his whole story. How many others felt as I did, about prisoners who were forced to work in the extermination camps as executioners of sorts?
By the time I finished reading this book, I was filled with such a deep and profound sorrow for all those who had been murdered, for their fellow prisoners who had been forced to assist with the murders and the immense injustice of it all. I realized that Filip Muller was not a horrible person. He was just another victim trapped in the awfulness of Auschwitz and he has had to live with all memories of what he was forced to do and all that he saw and lived through.
What a heavy burden it must be.

**Please understand that this is one of THE most graphic stories that I have ever read.** The realistic and stomach-churning depictions are very hard to get your head around sometimes, though the book is that much more extraordinary because of the hard-hitting truths.
This is a must read for anyone who wants to know more about the Holocaust and what really went on in Auschwitz and I strongly recommend this book!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

 
Some Information about the Author (very graphic):
http://www.auschwitz.dk/docs/new_page_11.htm
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.ivanrdee.com/

Book Review of ‘Five Chimneys, A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz’

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 – original post

Five Chimneys,
A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz

Written By: Olga Lengyel
Published by Academy Chicago Publishers, Chicago, 1st Ed., 1995, paperback, 231 pages.

Five Chimneys is the authentic testimony of Olga’s hellish journey through the terror and unbelievable horrors of Auschwitz.”

Olga Lengyel was a woman who had been trained as a surgical assistant. She was the wife of a leading Surgeon and their affluent family was well respected in their community. They lived in the city called Cluj (also known as Klausenburg or Kolozsaur) in Transylvania.
Olga’s life was full of love, laughter and she had a contented home together with her husband Miklos, her two sons Thomas and Arvad, her parents and her god father.
In 1944, the war became very real to Olga and her family who up until that point had been very sceptical of the atrocious stories they had been hearing.
They, along with many other deportees arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau after an unbearable 7 day long, overcrowded train ride in a cattle car. Olga was transferred shortly thereafter to Auschwitz.
During the 7 months that Olga was imprisoned in the concentration camp, she suffered greatly and witnessed the suffering, degradation and extermination of thousands upon thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, Russians, Ukrainians, and many more peoples from other parts of the world.
Her only saving grace was her involvement in the underground movement against their German captors. They needed her help to pass on information and packages. This defiance helped her find the will to keep going, even when she wanted so badly to find release and was quite ready to die.

Five Chimneys is the true story of one woman’s survival during World War II in the concentration camp, Auschwitz. This book chronicles her ghastly memories and appalling experiences as she stays alive and endures too one day tell the world what she had been witness to.
As I read this book, I was so deeply saddened, disgusted and sickened by how the ill-fated victims were starved, gassed or poisoned, and finally fed to the “ever-hungry” crematoriums.
* There is very graphic content in this book and though this book is exceptionally distressing, it is also a real account of the extermination of so many innocent people, by the S.S. Germans.

I recommend this book, though to anyone with young children, I strongly suggest that you keep it out of their reach.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (7 out of 10 Diamonds) – I really enjoyed it

 
Some Information about the Author:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Lengyel
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.academychicago.com/