Title: Auschwitz Lullaby
Author: Mario Escobar
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2018
Life for Helene and her family in Berlin in 1943 is a not an easy one. Helene herself is of German Aryan blood, but she is married to a gypsy making their five children half gypsy. They live their life day by day, going to work and listening for the sound of heavy work boots on their steps, the sound of the Nazi police. They can only hope that living a quiet life will leave them unnoticed.
One day when Helene is walking the older children out the door and down the steps to school they hear the dreaded boots on the stairs. The Nazi police greet them on the stairs and accompany them back into their apartment. They have orders to collect the gypsies in the home, Helene’s husband and children. “But don’t worry,” they tell Helene, “you are of Aryan blood, you may stay.” Of course, Helene will not allow her family to be drug off without her, so she packs up her family’s clothes, tells the children they are going on vacation, and they comply with the officers.
After a long and miserable ride in the now infamous cattle cars, they are finally in Auschwitz and Helene and the children are placed in the gypsy section of the camp. Shortly after their arrival Mengele arrives and asks her to be director of the new nursery and kindergarten in the camp where the children will have better food, games, films, etc.
For the short time these facilities were open in the camp, Helene and her assistants did the best they could to make the lives of the children just a little better.
Historical fiction surrounding WWII is one of my favorite genres to read. I have read many books from this genre and have many more on my TBR just waiting to get read. I feel awkward saying that I enjoy these books, that they are ‘good’, because the subject matter is just so horrific and sad to read. I find them to be fascinating, pulling me in and making me want to learn more the more I read.
Auschwitz Lullaby is a heart-breaking story about the love a mother had for her family regardless of the consequences to herself. Helene continued to show extreme courage and bravery throughout her stay in the camp not only for her own family but for all the imprisoned children.
Additionally, this story shows the brutal reality of the day to day life in the camp for the prisoners. The barracks were in inhospitable on the best of days, not to mention in the harsh winter months. The food rations were a joke, watery soup and a piece of stale bread. The nursey and kindergarten set up my Mengele was comparably nice, but it really was just a holding center for the children heading into his horrific experiments.
It is hard to even imagine what it was like in these camps, but Escobar did a great job bringing Helene’s story to life. I think it is important that these stories are brought to life for others to experience and learn from and to help these brave people to continue to live on.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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