“In the end the Kleinmann family had not only survived but prospered: through courage, love, solidarity and blind luck, they outlasted the people who had tried to destroy them. […] They took their past with them, understanding that the living must gather the memories of the dead and carry them into the safety of the future.”
I loved this.
It feels weird to say that. Why would I love the story of two Jewish men fighting to survive the cruelty of the Holocaust? Why would I love the story of Buchenwald? Auschwitz? Monowitz? And all the other concentration camps that they were sent to? It doesn’t feel right to say I loved it. But I did.
Jeremy Dronfield is a natural story-teller. Yes, The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz is based on the life of Gustav and Fritz Kleinmann, but Dronfield is preserving the life of these two men through the mode of story-telling. Dronfield, relying on extensive archival research and both primary and secondary sources, tells this story in a beautiful and moving way. You can’t help but get caught up in this story, knowing everything is based on reality. It’s written in such an enchanting way.
It was truly a fascinating read. I learnt *so much* from this. I knew SS officers were cruel and murderous, but I didn’t know just how sadistic they really were. Dronfield shed a lot of light on the Holocaust and the brutality of Hitler’s regime – things I never learnt about at school. It was also very harrowing to read; to know that humanity has the capacity to be so callous and inhumane honestly shocks me. I felt empty when I closed that book for the last time.
I can reflect on the present, knowing the story of the past.
The story of Gustav and Fritz Kleinmann is a remarkable one. They managed to stick together for five and a half years; from being transferred from concentration camp to concentration camp; from having gone from shit-carrying to building gas chambers; from having been free to imprisoned to liberated once again. The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz shows how important love, family and courage really is.
I honestly couldn’t recommend this enough. It was a beautiful read, despite the tragedy that is describes. If we can take anything away from this piece of history, it’s that hope and resilience is everything. Time may not heal wounds, but it allows us to prosper, in spite of our experiences. A new favourite non-fiction of mine.
Have you read The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz? Does it sound like something you’d read? Have you read anything similar? Let’s discuss it!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X
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