Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: The Nazis Knew My Name

The Nazis Knew My Name
by Magda Hellinger, Maya Lee and David Brewster

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 320
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In March 1942, twenty-five-year-old kindergarten teacher Magda Hellinger and nearly a thousand other young women were deported as some of the first Jews to be sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The SS soon discovered that by putting prisoners in day-to-day charge of the accommodation blocks, they could deflect attention away from themselves. Magda was one such prisoner selected for leadership and put in charge of hundreds of women in the notorious Experimental Block 10. She found herself constantly walking a dangerously fine line: saving lives while avoiding suspicion by the SS and risking execution. Through her inner strength and shrewd survival instincts, she was able to rise above the horror and cruelty of the camps and build pivotal relationships with the women under her watch, and even some of Auschwitz’s most notorious Nazi senior officers.

Kritters Thoughts:  A non-fiction story that read like fiction, which for me is always a plus in that the book doesn't read like a textbook!  Maya Lee, the daughter of Magda Hellinger has always been fascinated by the few details that her mother and father would give her of their time in concentration camps.  Both shared little and even with Magda writing a book, Maya came to find out that there were many details left out, so she went on a mission and this book is the outcome of her wanting to flesh out her mother's story.  

While I am not naive of the concentration camps during World War II, it is hard to read about them and I tend to try to find books set during this time, but not in this place.  For some reason this book while horrific in so many ways, knowing it was true made it feel more special and valuable of a read.  I also had no idea that some of the Jewish people were put in charge of "blocks" and even had to inflict discipline on their own family, friends, neighbors and so on.  

If you think you have read all you can/want of World War II, I would challenge you to add this one.  Maya does such a fantastic job of honoring her mother's legacy and giving the reader another story of survival and hope during a time where both were limited.  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Atria Books.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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