Literary Mumblings

A few words about the books I’ve read…

A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

Posted by Amanda on June 15, 2009

luckyI have always had a fascination for the Second World War and all that ties into it. Call it an appreciation for history (I still think it is the best story ever told) or call it a result of studying International Relations but WWII interests me. So, when I won a book from LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program that was a memoir of a (then) young boy who survived Auschwitz, I was very happy and looked forward to reading it.

Most memoirs are slow readers for me but I enjoyed A Lucky Child. I don’t normally find myself sucked in but Mr. Buergenthal, who has since served as a judge for The Hague and done a lot of work in the area of International Law of Human Rights, wrote very simply and tried to tell his story. It mostly consisted of small anecdotes building up into his remembrances of the war. Because Buergenthal waited more than half a century before putting his story to paper, there is a sort of detachment to the writing. Buergenthal had these experiences but he has lived a long life and can look back with less pain than if he had written this book in the 1950’s.

Buergenthal tells many different stories and shows many people responding to their circumstances in many different ways. The detachment he has makes it so that Buergenthal isn’t just pointing the finger at anyone or painting any one group as the good or bad guys. Nor does he ignore the fact that Nazi Germany went after several groups. In the chapter on his time in Auschwitz, he makes the point to tell the story of when a group of Kapos, Jews who worked for the Germans within the camps to gain extra privileges and safety, beat up and killed a man who had just arrived at the camp. Buergenthal is very honest in his memoir and I found that I appreciated it.

Altogether, this was a quick readable addition to the narrative of the Holocaust. While this one isn’t earth shattering or very different from any other story, it is important as a reminder of what happened and how different people responded to this time in history.



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