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A bestseller in Germany, Michael Wieck’s account of his childhood in Königsberg recalls a German city obliterated by fire-bombing during the Second World War. As the child of a Jewish mother and Gentile father, Wieck was persecuted first as a "certified Jew" by the Nazis, then as a German by the Russian occupiers, including horrific internment in the Rothenstein concentration camp. His emigration to the West in 1948 marked the end of the 408-year history of the Jewish community in Königsberg.
From the earliest delights of a childhood filled with music, family, and the smell of pines and the sea, Wieck retraces his life. He tells of his school days and their sudden end, the shock of Kristallnacht, his Aunt Fanny being sent by train to a destination unknown, the chemical factory where Jewish workers gradually disappeared, the bombs falling on Königsberg. The Russian occupation was anything but the expected delivery from the horrors of the war.
In the midst of privation, savagery, and death, there were moments of absurdity, and Wieck powerfully depicts them in this unforgettable memoir.