This is an amazing book. It is a heart-pounding thriller that kept my heart in my throat. For anyone who denies that the Holocaust happened, the details provided will (hopefully) wash away those doubts. The information provided is so granular that it’s as if the reader was there.
What I really liked about it was that it represented Vrba as a full human being, warts and all. For all of his heroism during the war, his life in the post-war years was complicated and far from easy.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World is available wherever books are sold.
Growing up is never simple. We are often faced with challenges that force us to make difficult choices or face a reality that we would prefer not to.
Eternal, by Lisa Scottoline, was published earlier this year. Growing up in Rome, Marco, Sandro, and Elisabetta have been best friends since they were young. Marco is the son of a former cyclist and ardent follower of Benito Mussolini. Elisabetta was raised in an artistically inclined family, Her dream is to become a novelist. Sandro is Jewish and a promising mathematics genius.
Soon, they will all be tested. As a Jew, Sandro’s world becomes ever restricted by the antisemiticNazi race laws. Marco gets involved in local government and Elisabetta must fend for herself. Everything and everyone they know will become unrecognizable, forcing all of them into adulthood and the complications that arise from this transition.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a reminder that the Holocaust extended to the whole of Europe. The Jews of Southern Europe were a target as much as their Central and Eastern Europe co-religionists. What was different was that Rome’s non-Jewish community did not wholeheartedly accept the ideology of the German invaders. There were many who maintained friendships with their Jewish friends and neighbors while helping them in whatever way they could.
Though it is not a quick read, it is well worth the time it takes to complete the novel. I was quickly engrossed in the tale and the changing relationship between the main characters.
It should air in primetime, on every major network. The purpose of this to ensure that every American is shown how the former guy and most of the Republican party has manipulated our political norms to ensure their victory.
Now granted, there will be many who will try to downplay the evidence and replace the facts with baseless lies. But until we know the truth in its most complete form, it will continue to haunt us and threaten the values that are the core of this nation.
“Not only do we have the DC jail, which is the DC gulag, now we have Nancy Pelosi’s Gazpacho Police spying on members of Congress,”
What she meant to say was Gestapo. In Europe during World War II, they were the undercover arm of the police and were known for not being subtle or gentle in doing their job. I would love to laugh at her, knowing that this is not the first stupid comment she has made and it will likely not be the last. But I can’t. Once more the inappropriate use of Holocaust imagery is being used in a way that at best is misunderstood and at worst disrespectful.
In other news, he who shall not be named is accused of violating the Presidential Records Act. It requires all outgoing Presidential administrations to transfer all documentation to the National Archives. In a move that surprises no one, he is accused of taking boxes of classified documents to his home in Florida and destroying other paperwork along the way.
I don’t know about anyone else, this screams that he has something to hide. When someone is innocent of the crimes they are being accused of, they act in a certain manner. When they are guilty and know that they have done something wrong, they do anything and everything in their power to hide the evidence. The hypocrisy and silence from the right compared to the accusations leveled at Hillary Clinton during the last days of the 2016 Presidential election says it all.
Just another day of Republican fuckery in America.
Human history is cyclical. The details may change, but the general narrative is static.
As is standard practice at the beginning of every Olympic season, the games are opened by a couple of torchbearers. As I write this, this year’s competition is held in Beijing, China. According to many journalists and media outlets, this nation has a long list of human rights abuses.
Among them is the treatment of the Uyghurs. In an attempt to quell the criticism and prove the rest of the world wrong, a Uyghur athlete was one of the competitors chosen to light the torch during the opening ceremonies. If the Chinese government thought that this would silence its critics, they were wrong.
Eighty-six years ago, Berlin was the host city for the Olympics. Like the Chinese government, the Nazi-run German government needed to put on a good face for visiting contenders and officials. They did so by “allowing” fencer Helene Mayer to compete. Her father was Jewish, her mother was not. According to the Nazi racial Laws, Mayer was a mischling. Though she was classified as a Jew and had Jewish lineage via her father, Mayer did not consider herself to be Jewish.
If history is any indicator, we have an opportunity to save lives and prevent another Holocaust. The question is, what is the rest of the world going to do? Are they going to sit idly by while innocent people are being slaughtered? Or will they step up and make it clear that what the Chinese are doing is unacceptable?
Only time will tell, but I hope that they will finally do the right thing.
When fighting an invading army, there are two ways to go about it. The first is to join the government-created and regulated military. The second is to become a member of the underground resistance and fight using whatever methods you have at your disposal.
This book is amazing. It is a heart-pounding, blood-pumping, thriller of a ride. What these girls did is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Giving the middle finger to the enemy and the patriarchy, they fought for their freedom and their lives while others were content to remain silent or fall in line with the Nazi regime. They are heroes in every sense of the word and should always be remembered as such.
Our teenage years are the most confusing and exciting times of our lives. We are torn between the expectations of our families and the excitement of the newness of everything that occurs during that period.
Daughter of the Reich: A Novel, by Louise Fein, was published last year. In World War II era Germany, Hetty Heinrich, whose father is moving up in the ranks of the Nazi party, is everything a daughter was supposed to be. She is respectful of her parents and goes along with the new society that the regime has created. That all changes when she reunites with an old friend, Walter Keller. Walter is Jewish. Despite the risks to both of their lives (and their families by extension), they start to fall for one another. When it becomes clear that the danger is ramping up tenfold, Walter and Hetty have to make a decision about their future.
OMG. This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. It was such a visceral experience to see this world and this time in history through Hetty’s eyes. If nothing else, it was a reminder of how equally powerful love and hate can be. As I got further into the novel, it was not hard to see the parallels between the 1930’s and today.
When we think of the Holocaust, we think of the six millions Jews that were murdered. While that fact is undeniable, other groups were also targeted for persecution and murder. Among those were Rhineland Bastards. One parent was White and German, the other was of African descent.
In the 2018 film, Where Hands Touch, fifteen year old Lena (Amandla Stenberg) is one of these children. Her White mother, Kerstin (Abbie Cornish), is a single mother. Lena’s father is no longer in the picture. Kerstin is doing her best to protect both of her children from the racial laws imposed on the country. While her son is considered to be a “good German”, her daughter has a target on her back. When Lena meets and falls for Lutz (George McKay), the son of a Nazi official and a member of Hitler Youth, things get even more complicated.
I enjoyed this movie. It was a story that I was aware of in the general sense, but I was fuzzy on the details. The one thing that stuck out to me was the character arcs. If nothing else, it shows how dangerous this mentality is, specifically when a nation sets on a path of destruction of their own citizens that is based on identity.
Do I recommend it? Yes
Where Hands Touch is available for streaming on The Roku Channel.
*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
The job of a journalist is to report the facts and let the public decide how to react. The problem is that in some countries and under some governments, the facts are dangerous.
On World on Fire, Nancy Campbell is an American journalist whose job is her life. In 1939, Nancy is in Warsaw when the Germans invade Poland. Returning to Berlin, she does her job as she has always done. But she also knows enough to know that war is coming. She tries to convince her closeted nephew, Webster O’ Connor (Brian J. Smith) to leave Europe while the borders are still open. But Webster decides to stay.
In Berlin, she is friendly with her neighbors and the army officers who she must interact with as part of her job. The journalist in her wants to report what she is seeing. But she is held back by her German supervisors who are towing the party line and need to make sure that only their version of the truth is released.
Nancy knows the risks she takes when she is determined reveal everything that she is seeing and experiencing. But in her eyes, it must be done, in spite of the personal costs she may have to pay.
To sum it up: Sometime doing the right thing requires going against everyone and everything around you. It is easy to be silent and pretend that everything is fine. It is harder to follow your own instincts. When Nancy makes the difficult and dangerous decision to speak the truth, she is standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
If there is one thing that has lasted throughout the history of humanity, it is the appalling way in which we treat our fellow humans.
After the Holocaust, the phrase “never again” echoed from the lips of the survivors.
Unfortunately, “never again” has become an empty statement over the decades.
In China, the Uighurs are a Muslim minority. According to reports, the Chinese government have been forced to leave their homes for “re-education camps”. A segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver released on Youtube on Monday revealed the harsh treatment that these people are experiencing.
Watching the segment immediately took me back to everything I know about the Holocaust. The details change, but the basic facts are the same: a minority or minorities are dehumanized and forced into a specific location/murdered/tortured because of who they are.
I had hoped that 75 years after the end of the Holocaust, we might have finally learned from the mistakes of past generations. But humans are still humans. We still hate and kill one another strictly based on a face value identity.
Maybe one day, we will finally treat each other with respect and dignity.