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Posted November 10, 2010
It just breaks my heart that people had to suffer so, but the story was so well written. I just have one question...what ever became of Jan? I know that Ms. Heller said his last unanswered letter was on the table. But did she ever learn anything about him? I realize the difference in their Faith was an obstacle, but he DID put his own Life on the line to help her and her Family. I was disappointed in not learning either what became of him, or is ever found it in her heart to let him know that she was moving on?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2006
Posted June 2, 2003
This is a well written memoir, full of detail and meaning. In short, quickly paced chapters, the author introduces believable, all too human characters. Jews are depicted as ordinary people, with all the strengths and faults that implies. With the notable exception of JAN and SIDOR, the Gottesfeld Family's unlikely saviours, Poles and Ukrainians are shown to be anti-Semites, not to be trusted, with few redeeming virtues. A gross generalization, but understandable under the circumstances. Germans are simply evil. All the expected details of Jewish persecution are here: random shootings, dehumanization, petty brutality, etc... Some characters survive, but most don't, and justice has nothing to do with it. One unexpected, yet honest insight provided by the book is the apparent contempt for their 'goyim' neighbors felt by some members of the Jewish community - notably the author's mother - even before the outbreak of hostilities. One sometimes hears the phrase 'All politics are local.' In this case it appears that all hatreds are local as well, as uneducated and less affluent Slavs take pleasure in seeing their 'rich' and sometimes arrogant, non-Slav neighbors humbled, and yes - even killed. Heller's book is a stark reminder of what people are capable of doing when given the chance to deprive others of their humanity. At the same time it offers beacons of hope in the form of JAN and SIDOR, two very ordinary, uneducated 'goyim' who somehow manage to find the strength of character to go against the tide, to risk everything - including death - to do the right thing. The fact that their circumstances after the war are unknown lends pathos to their deeds.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.