Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Survival in the Shadows: Seven Jews Hidden in Hitler's Berlin" by Barbara Lovenheim

Today’s book is a non-fiction book. It tells the story of 7 people who lived in Berlin and were unable to get out of Germany before things began turning deadly for anyone of the Jewish faith. With the assistance of Barbara Lovenheim, their tale was finally told. It was not a biography or memoir, but not quite an “as told to” book either. Ms. Lovenheim worked very closely with them to be certain that her descriptions and explanations were as accurate and true to their memories of events as possible.

This book goes into great detail about what their lives were like before things began to turn bad for those who were Jewish and showed the progression of what happened as the country they lived in turned against them. It detailed the trials they were faced with long before they went into hiding, as well as the difficulties they faced once they realized that it was necessary to hide if they wished to survive. They prepared carefully and were lucky enough to have both the time and resources to prepare to hide in Berlin.

Obviously, safe shelter needed to be their first concern, it was not easy to come by for such a large group of people. While they were not able to remain together in one location, they remained aware of where each of them were and did find ways to keep in contact as a group. This was not always easy and often they were forced to relocate in order to keep both themselves and those hiding them safe.

Food was also a big concern. The ways they came up with to keep themselves from starvation were often nothing short of miraculous. Food was often scarce and ration cards were required to be able to purchase necessities. Obtaining ration cards while in hiding, without being identified as Jewish, arrested, and sent to forced labor camps or worse was often all but impossible. Also, they would need a way to earn an income to be able to afford to buy food. However it was not safe for employers to hire those known to be Jewish.

There is so much information in this book, but it was presented in a way that made me want to keep reading rather than feeling overwhelmed by it all. Another thing I liked about this book was that it didn’t simply end with the ending of the war. We get to find out what happened to each of the 7 people written of beyond merely learning about their lives prior to no longer needing to hide. There are also pictures of all of them and their families included at the end of the book. I do recommend reading this book. It was well-written and I learned more of the history of WW2 from a perspective that I had not previously seen.

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