Monday, April 20, 2009

Review: A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (April 20, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780316043403
Genre: Non-fiction/Memoir
Rating: 4/5

In A Lucky Child, Thomas Buergenthal, now a Judge in the International Court judge in The Hague, tells his astonishing experiences as a young boy during the Holocaust. Buergenthal arrived at Auschwitz at age ten, after surviving the Ghetto of Kielce and two labor camps, and was soon separated from his mother and then his father. He managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive until he was liberated from Sachsenhausen in 1945. From teaching himself to ride a bike belonging to an SS officer, to sneaking a heavenly sip of milk, to delighting in the pony given to him by his Polish Army comrades, he reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother, and in 1951 he arrived in the United States to start a new life. Poignant and inspiring, A Lucky Child is a book that demands to be read by all.

I've always been fascinated by the Holocaust. I've been amazed by how good people could treat other human beings so terribly, and how so many people were able to withstand such atrocious treatment and conditions to survive. That such a young child was able to survive is even more amazing.

Mr Buergenthal waited quite some time to write his memoir. He explains in the preface that he wanted a little distance from the experience before he wrote about it. While this is certainly understandable, I think this distance from the events did come through in the writing. The story wasn't lacking in emotion by any means, but I didn't have the sense of immediacy that I've gotten from some other Holocaust memoirs I've read.

If you are interested in the Holocaust and life in the concentration camps, this is an easy to read memoir that gives you a glimpse into some of the most notorious camps. The books also includes a map and photos. I loved the pictures! Sometimes when reading I would forget just how young Buergenthal was while living in the camps, and these pictures helped remind me. 4 stars


Sandy Nawrot said...

I love pictures brings it all to life. I am considering reading this for my WWII reading challenge, having just read your review and another one just recently!

Yvonne said...

Sounds like a really interesting book.

I just gave you an award :)

Anna said...

Great review! I've added your link to my review here, and I'll be adding it to War Through the Generations soon.

Diary of an Eccentric

Anna said...

I've added it to the challenge site here.

Diary of an Eccentric