The Girls in the Attic by Marius Gabriel

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Maggie’s father dies and friends and family of her mother encourage her to ask her mother about her past. When she does, Maggie learns of the struggles her mother (Lola) faced as a Jewish woman in Nazi-era Germany and the extreme odds she faced of survival when the Nazi’s literally came to the door in the form of the son of the woman hiding Lola and her sister, Heidi, in her attic.

 

If you look at the Amazon description of The Girls in the Attic, its the story of Max Wolffe. Max’s father was a minister who spoke out against Hitler and was taken away when Max was young. The official story is that his father died in prison and Max’s devotion to the protection of the motherland and master race came at the hands of a Nazi who took the boy under his wing when he was tortured everyday as a result of what he believed was his father’s treason. When Max returns home after having suffered a head injury at the Russian front for what he thinks will be a recovery break, he finds that his mother has concealed two young Jewish women in his home. The only thing keeping Max from going to local authorities to turn the women in is that he knows that his mother will also be taken into custody. 

Once you get a sense of the setting, The Girls in the Attic is actually goes exactly where readers will expect it to go. As Max gets to know the women they open his eyes to the atrocity of the War and their confidence that the Allies are coming moves his belief in the dominance of the Reich. Max starts to question his staunch views about Jewish people and his blind faith in the military expertise of Hitler. There are several navel gazing epiphanies from Max and Lola. 

As much as the book is billed as the story of Max, it’s really the story of Lola Rosenstein. Lola starts out, despite having been moved from home to home with her sister for their protection, a little recklessly angry. She hates Max and everything he stands for. Heidi is her voice of reason but the young woman is just angry. As time goes on, she becomes circumspect and once they start to move through war-torn Germany, a bit world weary. The idea of death as a rest is something we hear from many survivors and rang very true. That it is Lola telling the story, the omniscient look into Max’s thought process and private conversations between Heidi and Max’s mother, Magda, are a choice. While Max’s thought process and transitions may play as an excuse for the relationship that develops between Max and Lola (not a spoiler. ANYONE reading this book will expect it), it’s not something our narrator would know and that bothers me more than it should especially as she slips into first person in the epilogue. From Lola the epiphanies tend to be regarding the hearts of man and the lack of control in her own life. From Max, they are grand gestures toward a changing attitude toward people and generally the enemies of existence that serve to romanticize him. Considering that we’re seeing him from the memory of an old woman, it makes sense that she would remember him as he should have been.

Though quite predictable, the story is interesting and the characters engaging. As odd as it may sound, Lola starts as a bit of a reckless young woman. She was protected by her parents and then protected by Heidi and ultimately protected by Max. She has suffered living in the slums and she knows what her sister went through to keep her safe but as she grows in the sense of the novel, she becomes more circumspect understanding how lucky she’s been to survive.

I enjoyed The Girls in the Attic. I have seen the reviews that cite errors. There were errors but I did not find them distracting. The story was not of the quality that I’ll seek out other books by Gabriel but it was a good, solid read and one that makes some very good points. Pick it up and let me know what you think.

 

Read an excerpt and buy The Girls in the Attic by Marius Gabriel on

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The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Publication Date: May 16, 2016

 

The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin The Seven Year Dress: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin, is the story of Helen Stein. Helen is a teenager ripped from her family and sent to Auschwitz and lives its horrors but also finds a kindness and selflessness in humanity that helped her survive against the odds.

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The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Publication Date: January 1, 2006

 

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten BoomBetter World Book Challenge 3 – A Childhood Favorite

In The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, the author and her family lived in Haarlem in the Netherlands in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. As Calvinists, they saw it as their duty to help God’s people and set about creating a hiding place in their home for Jewish people that came to them for refuge. The Hiding Place follows their quest to save those they could and their ultimate capture and internment.  Continue reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Secrets of Sand Mountain by Philip Elrod

Publication Date: December 10, 2015

 

PE_Secrets_of_Sand_Mountain

In 1944, the residents of a northern Alabama town are tested in a way they’ve never been before. Where some of the challenges and secrets are what men are made of, others embody a destruction that will mark the souls of the townsfolk.

 

 

 

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Goebbels: A Biography by Peter Longerich

Publication Date: May 7, 2015

 

PL_Goebbels

[easyazon_link asin=”1400067510″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Goebbels: A Biography[/easyazon_link] is an intimate look at the life and death of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s right-hand man.

 

I received a copy of this biography from Netgalley in exchange for my review.

 

 

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Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi

Publication Date: September 1, 1995

 

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Primo Levi was a twenty-five-year-old chemist living in Turin, Italy when he was arrested as an “Italian Citizen of Jewish Race” and deport to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz chronicles the ten months that Levi spent in the death camp and the triumph of human spirit that kept him alive.

 

 

 

January 27, 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Levi was one of only twenty survivors in his transport of 650 prisoners. His memoir “If this is a Man” was first released in his home country as a limited run in October of 1947. The version that I read was translated in 1958 by Giulio Einaudi.

[easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] is a dispassionate account of the Holocaust and Auschwitz Death Camp in a way that seems perhaps a bit odd for an account written a mere few years after the author’s experience. At first I thought that perhaps the removal from the subject was due to the translated text. [easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] reads awkwardly at points as though there really isn’t a translation for certain things. As the book progressed, I came to believe that the objectivity of Levi in the work perhaps highlights the suffering that its subject must have experienced. [easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] reads a bit like a victim having to leave the body emotionally to survive a nightmarish experience. Levi’s experience was raw and brutal. He doesn’t describe events in a graphic way but manages to still convey the awfulness of the experience. In the time he was in the camp, Levi didn’t see himself as a man but a slave.

There is always a fragility of life in accounts we hear of the concentration camps. Levi is able to work and he’s sent immediately to perform hard labor in the camp. Anyone who couldn’t work was immediately put to death and if a person became ill they would be sent to a very short-term infirmary where they’d either improve or be sent immediately to the gas chambers.

[easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] is not a book designed to horrify the reader but to inform. Levi, as an author, doesn’t read as a man who is looking to inspire his audience with his brave perseverance in horrific odds. Levi instead reads as a man who never wants us to forget. The Holocaust is something that happened to him. He was not a religious man and didn’t consider himself a Jew but he was labeled as such and for that label was sent to slavery, degradation and almost certain death. In Levi’s eyes, he regained his humanity when he was sent to the infirmary for 10 days and spared a march that would have surely killed him.

Levi’s bravery to write such a work and so soon after the experience astounds the reader. Ten months must have seemed a lifetime to this 25-year-old as he saw cruelty and hate and people dying every day. The people that Levi described as emaciated and broken can be viewed in historical footage of the Liberation of Auschwitz. Levi doesn’t seem to hate the Germans in his narrative and the minimization of them seems to be something of a dehumanizing of them. They are the faceless mass. They are the uncertain evil gobbling the souls of those around him.

[easyazon_link asin=”0684826801″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]Survival In Auschwitz[/easyazon_link] is well written, poignant and simply an important work of nonfiction. Please, take a moment to remember today the 4.1 million people who died at this horrible death camp.

You can read an excerpt and buy Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi on:

Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.Amazon Canada

For more information about Primo Levi, check Goodreads, Facebook and Wikipedia.

Straw Writes by Christopher Shugrue

Publication Date: April 18, 2014

 

Straw Writes by Christopher Shugrue

Straw Writes by Christopher Shugrue is a look into the life of a man returned from war and suffering from PTSD. Returning to civilian life is not an easy process for a person lost in an internal world of horror and tragedy.

 

 

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Flying Loyalties by Helmuth Palmer

Publication Date: October 31, 2012

 

Flying Loyalties by Helmuth PalmerIn Flying Loyalties by Helmuth Palmer, Hansi lives a happy life in Scotland indulging in a passion for planes when World War II breaks out. His Austrian background and bi-lingual abilities make him the perfect spy. Hansi uncovers a horrifying plan by Hitler to develop the atomic bomb. Can he prevent the impending disaster?

 

 

 

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