Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Book review: A Crime in the Family, by Sacha Batthyany Swiss journalist Sacha Batthyany heard a disturbing rumor: near the end of the Second World War, his Aunt Margit was alleged to have participated in the massacre of hundreds of Jewish prisoners in the small Austrian town of Rechnitz. The crime took place during a party at her home attended by Nazi officers. He’s haunted, … Continue reading Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Book review: Among the Living and the Dead, by Inara Verzemnieks “This is why I had journeyed to my grandmother’s lost village, nestled at the edge of Latvia, which is itself nestled at the edge of Europe’s psychic north, south, east and west, or, as Pope Innocent III described it…’the edge of the known world’.  Because I imagined, maybe, I might find her again in the old … Continue reading Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

The Lost Libraries of Europe

The portal of the Berlin City Library (Berliner Stadtbibliothek) at Breite Straße 32-34 in Berlin-Mitte. It shows steel plates with 117 variations of the letter “A”, created by Fritz Kühn in 1965. By Beek100 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons Book review: The Book Thieves, by Anders Rydell This is to a very great extent a story of dispersal – about … Continue reading The Lost Libraries of Europe

Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Book review: Dancing on a Powder Keg, by Ilse Weber In 1942, Jewish author Ilse Weber was deported from Prague along with her husband Willi and the younger of her two sons to Theresienstadt, the Jewish ghetto and the Nazis’ “model” concentration camp, trotted out as a fake village for events like Red Cross visits. Beginning in 1933 as political and social changes began taking root … Continue reading Letters from a Life, Poems from the Camp

Updating the Legacy of a War Heroine

Book review: Lindell’s List by Peter Hore Early on in reading Lindell’s List, I realized there was no way I was going to be able to keep track of all the people who were in some way involved in the stories and narrative, whether integrally or peripherally. There were so many introduced in rapid succession, and sometimes they’d be gone just as quickly, and I got lost. I … Continue reading Updating the Legacy of a War Heroine

“He who lives will see.”

Book review: War Diaries, 1939-1945, by Astrid Lindgren, translated by Sarah Death Astrid Lindgren, the beloved author of the Pippi Longstocking series, lived through the Second World War with her family in Stockholm, Sweden. She was just beginning her writing career, and in wartime got a job in the censorship office. Lindgren began recording daily life with “Oh! War broke out today. Nobody could believe it,” on that … Continue reading “He who lives will see.”

Spirit of Santa Fe: Tracing a Ghost from Germany to the American Southwest

Book review: American Ghost, by Hannah Nordhaus I’d saved this for a Halloweeny read, and I’m glad that I read it after Colin Dickey’s Ghostland. It got a fair amount of negative, or at least disappointed, Goodreads reviews, and I might have felt the same if I hadn’t learned so much from his book about why ghost stories develop, and how the ghosts, along with our fears and … Continue reading Spirit of Santa Fe: Tracing a Ghost from Germany to the American Southwest

On Living and Forgiving

Book review: Surviving the Angel of Death, by Eva Mozes Kor If you’re familiar with any Holocaust or Auschwitz documentaries, you’ve probably seen or heard of Eva Mozes Kor. She’s the living badass who, as a child along with her twin Miriam, survived the infamous Dr. Mengele’s nightmarish experiments on twins in Auschwitz. She later immigrated to Israel and then on to Terre Haute, Indiana, … Continue reading On Living and Forgiving

Ladies of the City of Light’s Darkest Days

Book review: Les Parisiennes, by Anne Sebba Anne Sebba writes in her extensive history of the lives of Parisian women during WWII that it’s our task to understand, not to judge. And the women whose lives are covered range across such a broad spectrum, from those with selfless motives and actions to those who didn’t act as honorably as might be expected. She tells the … Continue reading Ladies of the City of Light’s Darkest Days

A Found Memoir of Running and Refuge

Book review: Asylum, by Moriz Scheyer Viennese author Moriz Scheyer completed his memoir of being wrenched from his life as an editor and critic for a major newspaper in Vienna and hiding out in France even before World War II had ended. Considering that, it’s incredible that he had so much perspective about what was going on in the war and abroad. Some people try to … Continue reading A Found Memoir of Running and Refuge

Survival and Optimism

Book review: Bread or Death, by Milton Mendel Kleinberg It took me a little while to get into this one, but once I did, I was glad I’d stuck with it. Kleinberg wrote this account of his and his family’s experiences during World War II to answer questions for his grandchildren. I’ve read many Holocaust memoirs and there was a lot here I’d never come across … Continue reading Survival and Optimism

An Unforgettable Life in Stories

Book review: In the Unlikeliest of Places, by Annette Liebeskind There have been many extraordinary stories to come from those who survived the Holocaust. Each is a little bit different, a little surprising in its own way. There’s so much to be learned about human nature, both the good and the bad of it, from personal histories like these. Nachman Libeskind’s story is unique for … Continue reading An Unforgettable Life in Stories