Happy Friday! Auschwitz Lullaby, now available from Thomas Nelson, came highly recommended by my dear Goodreads’ friend, Angela. When she says a book is four or more stars, I don’t miss it. She gave this one 4.5.
I never tire of these World War II stories involving the Holocaust. I must sound like a broken record at this point, but I have to say, because of the insurmountable number of people affected, there will always be new perspectives and stories to tell, and I am here to read them and listen.
It is 1942 in Germany when Helene’s family home is broken into by the police. They are there to take away her husband, deemed a “gypsy,” and their five children. The police say that Helene can stay because she is German, but she chooses to leave with her family. They are all taken to Auschwitz.
After her family is set-up in the crowded barracks, Dr. Mengele arrives to see Helene because she is known to be a nurse. From there, he directs her to run the concentration camp’s nurseries, set across two barracks; one for newborns and one for children older than six.
In these incredibly harsh and dire conditions, Mengele provides child-friendly items like movies and toys, while people are dying in gas chambers close by. Helene works tirelessly to save the children, her own and all those under her care. What will happen to her family?
Auschwitz Lullaby is based on a true story of one woman and her family. It sheds an important light on the prejudice against, and extermination of, the Romani people by the Nazis during WWII. I found the writing to be straight, and with that, my own emotions could fill in the full picture of this living, breathing story.
My favorite aspect of this book was the characterization. It made the story real. Helene was a hero and a risk-taker, and most of all, she was a mother.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
In 1943 Germany, Helene is just about to wake up her children to go to school when a group of policemen break into her house. The policemen want to haul away her gypsy husband and their five children. The police tell Helene that as a German she does not have to go with them, but she decides to share the fate of her family. After convincing her children that they are going off to a vacation place, so as to calm them, the entire family is deported to Auschwitz.
For being German, they are settled in the first barracks of the Gypsy Camp. The living conditions are extremely harsh, but at least she is with her five children. A few days after their arrival, Doctor Mengele comes to pay her a visit, having noticed on her entry card that she is a nurse. He proposes that she direct the camp’s nursery. The facilities would be set up in Barrack 29 and Barrack 31, one of which would be the nursery for newborn infants and the other for children over six years old.
Helene, with the help of two Polish Jewish prisoners and four gypsy mothers, organizes the buildings. Though Mengele provides them with swings, Disney movies, school supplies, and food, the people are living in crowded conditions under extreme conditions. And less than 400 yards away, two gas chambers are exterminating thousands of people daily.
For sixteen months, Helene lives with this reality, desperately trying to find a way to save her children. Auschwitz Lullaby is a story of perseverance, of hope, and of strength in one of the most horrific times in history.
Have you read Auschwitz Lullaby, or is it on your TBR? Do you enjoy historical fiction, especially from this time period? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR