Wow. This book was well written, beautiful, haunting, melancholy, tragic,
incredible. I give it five stars. The best book I've read in a while. It is a
story of a mother and daughter who come from Germany after the end of WWII to
live in Minnesota. It has chapters that are in their current life where the
daughter is grown-up and a professor and chapters that are when she was a small
child with her 23 year old mother in Germany at the break-out of WWII through
'til the end of the war.
I especially liked it because it gives you a view of what it could have been
like being a German citizen who was not involved in the SS/Nazi regime and
trying to survive. I never really thought about what it could have been like for
the average German citizen. Whenever I think of Germany during that time I've
usually thought something along the lines of "Why didn't they do anything?
Didn't they see what was happening with the Jews? Why didn't they help them?"
Etc. This book made me go deeper and ask myself new questions: "What would I
have done? Would I have stayed silent to keep my own life or the lives of those
around me safe? Would I have helped the Jews that went into hiding knowing that
it would put myself and loved ones in peril? Would I have "entertained" an SS
officer to keep us alive, all the while hating myself? It is one thing to say
that I would do this or that if it were just me--but what about when you have
This book is a historical fiction novel. It is set in WWII Germany. This book is a book that will leave a lasting impression on you. Anna the mother and one of the main characters in the book survives by being a mistress to a Nazi officer. She sees others and their children starving. I think she is a mistress because she wants to survive and she is haunted in the book by her choice to survive. One of the few books I give a 5 star rating to. In order for me to give a book 5 stars it has to be an UNFORGETTABLE read.
Absolutely heartbreaking. Characters who don't understand each other and don't know why, secrets that must be kept, tough do-what-you-have-to choices. I loved this book, even as it tore me apart inside.
"Those Who Save Us" is an amazing fictional story about Anna who was a young woman in Germany during WWII and her daughter Trudy, who was three when they were liberated by an American soldier at the end of the war and moved to America. As is the way of that generation, Anna refuses to talk about her life during the war. Trudy is left with no answers, only a single photo showing Anna, Trudy and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.
Now all grown up and a professor of history, Trudy begins to interview Germans who survived the war to learn about their experiences. The story unfolds in two time lines, the 1940's in Germany and the 1990's in America. We learn what life was like for Anna and Trudy and we begin to realize why Anna cannot speak of the things she tried to do during the war, the things she did in order to survive, and the shame of which she cannot speak.
This is a poignant story of a mother and daugther. It is a story of the things you will do to survive. It is beautifully written and you will mull it over in your mind for days after you finish reading.
This book was very hard to put down. I love how the author alternated between past and present. The very descriptive events of the way the Jews were treated during the war was hard to get through. A very emotional book. I loved the ending!
As hard as parts of this book was to read, I was completely mesmerized once I started. Both story lines are intriguing. It raises some fascinating and difficult questions. What would you do to survive? Only those who have lived through this can answer this question. Well written book-recommended.
This is the best book I have read in some time. It is about a woman who was born during WWII and her mother. She relates the sacrifice and bravery of the german people who were helpless to stop Hitler and his troops. They endured the most horrific treatment and had to live with the scars of that for the rest of their lives similar to the fate of the Jewish people. Eye opening page turner.
By far one of the best books I have ever read. My heart went out to Anna for all that she endured. This is one of the few books that has really stuck with me--I finished it days ago yet I can't stop thinking about it. I loved how the story jumped between Anna and her daughter Trudy although I thought Anna's story was much more interesting--I couldn't wait to get back to her parts of the book. As for the obersturmfuher--there were times I thought he was only a little horrible and other times where he was a complete and total monster. This book is horrific and sad and thought provoking but at the same time a little bit beautiful in a dark strange way. It's well written and easy to read. I like that there is no quotation marks when people are speaking too.
This is the story of one woman's struggle to hide her past, and also the story of the woman's daughter who knows nothing of her mother's past, except for a family picture of her mother, herself as a small child and a Nazi officer. Trudy, the daughter, is now a professor of German history and she begins to unravel the truth about her mother.
I loved this book. I read it in one or two sittings, because it's hard to put down. There are so many secrets in Trudy's mother, Anna's, past life in Germany during WWII that Anna has suppressed and will not talk about because of her shame. Trudy is determined to find the truth, no matter how heartbreaking it may be.
This is a very well-written book and I found the characters to be very real and not easily forgotten. It is the author's first book and I gave it four stars.
as others more eloquent than me have written , ... this is a well written book . the language is excellent the storyline well thought out ... but there are plenty mistakes in the german used and in the german references ... [ to poems , songs etc ] , misspellings that should have been corrected by a german proofreader .
being a german myself , my parents grew up during the war and my grandfather fought in it [on the german side ] ... my FIL's uncle fought on the US side in a town not too far from where i grew up and was injured in the fighting . this is MY background from the perspective that i am writing this review . i am also a christian , with my love for the jewish people and i visit a messianic synagogue on occasion [ lack of a car prevents me to go more often ] .
i gave this book 3 1/2 stars . it is a hard book to read , not soo much for the story line , but for the rather brutal descriptions for the acts being done to the main character . knowing that things 1000 times worse had been done to human beings , doesnt make reading the ones in this book any easier to swallow .
there is foul language , descriptions of intercourse and other detailed acts of violence . not a book i would recommend for anyone under 18 ...
but then ... TV is also descriptive in its portrails of violence much more so than this book .
as for how the germans made it through the war , knowing or not knowing .... my mother sometimes reminicent about the war and how desperate people were . i guess , if put into the same situation , people would make sacrifices -- like being a mistress ... the question then comes to mind , how far do we let ourselves be bullied before we stand up and say " no more "????
A book of infinite detail both in character and circumstance; an in depth study of survival through the Holocaust and live in America afterward. Unforgettable story leaving you exhausted when reading is complete. Incredible.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The storyline shifts back and forth between Germany in the 1940's and the U.S. in the 1990's. It compares and contrasts the lives of a mother and her daughter. Some of the themes included in this book are a Nazi experience vs. a Jewish experience during and after the war, family secrets, things done for survival as a single mother, and caring for an aging parent. Characters and events felt authentic. Written by Jenna Blum, an interviewer of Holocaust survivors for Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. Definitely worth a read!
This is a haunting story. Trudy has never understood her mother and does not know why her mother will never talk about her life. Many, many secrets. As I read this I thought, what would I have done in Anna's place. Who saved who and what were they saved from? Heartbreaking questions with no clear cut answers. Trudy' journey to a partial understanding of Anna is hard to read and yet compelling. I found the story slow to unfold but then it grabbed me and I did not want to put it down.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book albeit with a few minus points for detail. It was a page turner, engaging, and very well written. The reason I didn't give it 5 stars was mainly because I felt the ending was a let down. I'm not sorry I read it, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the war and especially the holocaust, but I felt the ending was rushed, forced and didn't take into account how invested we readers had become in Anna and Trudy's relationship. I would have liked more closure. An explanation, a discussion at least! I felt it deserved more of an ending than it has. I was also puzzled as to why Anna didn't find happiness at the end. She had a horrible early life, and deserved to at least find some fulfillment at the end. I felt her experience with the SS officer didn't need to rob her of loving and finding happiness with Jack.
I also didn't like the lack of quotation marks. It wasn't a deal breaker for me, but like another reader said, I found it distracting.
This was the first fiction book that I have read concerning Germany and the war. Jenna Blum is a fantastic writer and her prose is not to be forgotten. This book will stay with me a long time. Beautiful.
Great historical fiction. Another holocaust story but told from the perspective of a German woman forced into serving as a high-ranking nazi officer's mistress in order for her to survive and to care for her young child (from an affair with a Jewish man she had hidden but who was discovered and sent to the camp.) The book alternates back and forth between present day in which the young child has grown up to be a history professor and the war years which works very well in unraveling the story slowly.
wow this book was very interesting about how the german people during world war 11 lived in fear as much as the jewish people from hitler and the ss. once you start reading this book you will not want to stop until you finish. it keeps you wanting to read more and more so you can see what happens to the mother and daughter in present time!
the author jenna blum has done an excellant job of putting together this book. all i can say is read it you will not be disappointed.
This is an excellent story. It's fiction, but I'm sure much of it an accurate description of what really did go in those days.
The story is about a young woman in Germany, and she eventually moves to the USA and her American born daughter wants to know more about her mother's past. The mother is always very closed about her youth.
Altho this is a Holocaust book it is not a violent story, like some of the books I've read.
Highly recommend to anyone interested in the Holocaust.
I loved this book. The story content was great. Some of the sexual content was a little more graphic than I cared for, but it did help to describe the mindset of the Oberstermfuhrer. The characters and scenery were described vividly and you could really feel what the main character was feeling. A good book to understand what horrors went on during the holocaust. Some parts were hard to read, but at the same time, I couldn't put it down.
I couldn't get involved in any part of this story. The two main characters never quite rang true for me, and I found it hard to care about either of them. The author didn't seem to have much of a plot in mind at all; events wandered aimlessly and ended badly. The stories, both Anna's and her daughter's, felt strangely flat despite the strong emotions both women were supposed to be experiencing. There were, however, plenty of needlessly lurid details, a poor substitute for the substance and depth of feeling this book lacked.
Oh, this was very good. A bit sad, of course, considering the subject matter, but it certainly has been continuing the theme of the last few books that I have read - of mothers and daughters. I suppose the most disappointing thing of the whole book was how Anna locked everything away and let the shame of loving Horst overwhelm everything else - including the relationship with her own daughter. Still, it was an engrossing story and the only real downside was that it was written in the European style of not using quotation marks, which slowed things down a bit. Still, I would most certainly read other books by her - especially since I don't think she will abandon this subject.
This book is amazing. As I was reading it I thought it must have been based on some research and as I reread the back cover was impressed with the author's credentials...However this is NOT dull or dry by any means. Right now my Jewish friend is reading it and I am wanting to talk to her about her thoughts. This would be a great book for a book club because of all the questions it brings up. There is no black and white in this book and my heart went out to the heroine.
I found this story completely engrossing and had trouble putting it down. There were some rather gory details, as would be expected from WWII Germany, but not so much as to turn you ocmpletely off. The author jumped across time, but it was done well to give you just enough of the story to make you want to see what was going to be revealed in the future. It helps us to ponder what we would do, given dire circumstances, to save those we love.
I cant say enough about this book. It was such a compelling story and I was sad to see it end. The author did an excellent job of drawing the reader in and wanting to know more about all the characters. This was a super read and if you like this era you need to read it...o
I loved this book it was an awesome read and would read it again . some sexual overtones and some graphic that might not be suitable for under 16 to read . But it was good from a historical prespective .
This was an interesting book. It was enjoyable to see the dynamic between the mother and daughter. I had to tell my family about certain parts of the book because I was shocked about what happened to some people.
I loved this book. Historical fiction is my favorite genre but I especially liked this because it was told from the perspective of a young German woman. Her story of survival was an eye-opener. The character of Anna comes to life and the reader will become part of her story. I could not put this book down.
What a remarkable book!! A young woman does what she has to do in order for her and her baby daughter to survive WWII in Weimar Germany. Years later the daughter becomes a teacher of German history in Minneapolis with a particular interest in women during WWII. Her mother is now in her 70's and has never spoken about her experiences with her daughter. The themes of love, sacrifice and family secrets run through the story along with the emotions involved in understanding the difference between heroism and collaboration.
Those Who Save Us looks at the horrors of the Holocaust from the unique perspective of an Aryan German woman, Anna, and her daughter, Trudy. When Anna falls in love with a Jewish doctor and hides him in her Nazi-sympathizer fathers house, it starts a chain of events that move from her struggle to survive the hardships of war in Germany to the United States when an American soldier marries Anna and takes her and 3-year-old Trudy to Minnesota. The story shifts from 1939 to 1997 to tell of Annas experiences and Trudys memories and how both women try to overcome both.
This was a touching novel. As I read, I truly felt the pain of the people who suffered during this time period. Certainly not an easy read, but an awesome historical fiction. Not for the faint of heart! This is quite graphic both in violence and some sexual content.
There are some books that I have read that months later I can't remember the story line. No so with this book. I was still thinking about the story and telling others about it two weeks later. Absolutely excellent read!
Definitely one of the best books I ever read. I loved the imagery and the characters. It's really a story about human perception and how unfair people could be when they jump to conclusions about judging people based upon the circumstances they come from.
Incredible novel. The experiences of the author with the topic are there in every single word. I have have read several books along this line but this is one of the best, if not at the top. If I could give it more stars I would. Yes, the story is fiction but I'm certain many of the incidents were all too real. I found myself revolted by some of the stories told by survivors from WWII who shared their stories. Well, well done.
Riveting! I could not put it down. I did not want to read more about the atrocities but I wanted to read about how the characters reacted and grew from them. Historical facts/truths interwoven into a great novel.
This is a well written book that weaves the deplorable secrets and conditions of life of the past with the revelation of that historical documentation of those events today. Couple this with one's search for truth about one's geneology and heritage and another's penance of silence and unforgiveness, and you have a story that touches you in so many ways. This would be a great book for book clubs to read as there are so many aspects of this book to discuss. It's a great READ! I hope you will take the time to add it to your reading list!
The plot was excellent. The story line switched back and forth between Anna's life in Nazi Germany and her daughter Trudy's life, now a professor in German studies in the USA doing a documentary in which she interviewed surviving Arian women who lived through the Nazi reign. Trudy was just a toddler living with her single mother back in Nazi Germany, and she wonders why her mother refuses to talk about her experiences.
She does not know that her mother, as a young woman, tried to hide her Jewish lover at her father's house...until her father found him and turned him over to the Nazis to later die in a concentration camp. Her father threatened to turn her in as well, unless she married one of her Nazi suitors. She runs.
Her lover had been involved in the Resistance and had involved Anna as well, running messages and smuggling photos and other things out of the nearby concentration camp that showed the world what was really going on inside.
One of her lover's contacts was a woman baker. When Anna takes refuge with the baker, she becomes furthur involved with the Resistance, hiding food for starving concentration camp inmates and running messages. But, the overseer of the concentration camp spots her. And when the baker is excecuted, the overseer tracks Anna down.
In order to save her baby daughter (whose father was her Jewish lover's) and herself, she must make a horrible choice. She becomes the overseer's mistress, submitting herself to the his constant sexual and emotional abuse.
After the war, the overseer runs, leaving Anna and Trudy to starve in Germany. When a US soldier offers to marry her and take her and her daughter to America, she accepts.
But, although she wants to love this decent man, every time they make love, she cannot help the remember the overseer's abuse. And, of course, her new husband cannot understand. So, she must once again, set aside her feelings of trauma, and pretend to keep him as a husband and a father for her daughter.
The imagry was good, the theme about what a person was willing to sacrifice in order to keep loved ones safe was great, the pace was fast, the narrative held my interest throughout, the psychological drama was chilling.
But, one thing that spoiled the book for me was that the perverted sexual scenes were just far too graphic for me.
First, this is a fascinating story and while I was pretty sure I knew how it was going to end, I was never certain how.
This story follows Anna Schlemmer, a Post World War II, German immigrant to New Heidelburg, a fictitious town in southeastern Minnesota, and her daughter, Trudy, born during the war years and now a professor of German history at the University of Minnesota. The story moves back and forth from Germany in WWII and the present time, the mid-1990s in Minnesota.
Trudy was a very small child when her mother married an American soldier and came to the US. She remembers very little about those years, but she has a photograph that appears to be a family photo of her mother, a Nazi officer and her. She thinks the Nazi officer is her father but her mother will not speak of that time.
Anna worked in a bakery in Weimar, Germany, during the war and although she did help with the resistance movement, partially because Trudy's father is a Jewish doctor who has been imprisoned in nearby Buchenwald, she also had a relationship with a Nazi officer during the war.
Trudy starts a research project to study the actions and feelings of Germans during World War II and this leads her to learn the truth of her mother's life.
As I said, I knew Trudy was going to learn about her mother's story, but I wasn't sure how and much of it would be revealed to her.
The book is an exploration in salvation and shame.
One of the best books I've ever read. This books grabs your attention with the first chapter and continues throughout the whole book. It explores so many human subjects from love, romance, families, loss, etc. Though this is fiction this could so easily have been a real life account. I would highly recommend this book.
This is a must read! It reinforced to me how we should never judge others. Its so easy to be a "Monday morning quarterback", sitting in our own comfortable chair, warm and dry, safe and well fed- we can never imagine or predict what we would do confronted with the same circumstances that Anna had to deal with. Imagine her courage at the age of 20 dealing with such horror and enduring such trauma to save her daughter! My uncle was one of the liberators of a German concentration camp when the war ended and he woud NEVER speak of what he saw no matter how we begged him to tell us - so the silence of Anna was very realistic. This book is now one of my all time favorites.
I loved this book. I've read so many books about WWII and the Holocaust that honestly I had to make myself start this one. It does not disappoint. It offers a different perspective on the part of German civilians during the war. I found myself thinking about the characters and their predicaments even when I wasn't reading. Highly recommend.
A raw account of a German woman's life during WWII as well as an account of her daughter's life in modern day Minnesota. The story bounces back and forth between times and places, but it's very easy to follow. No quotation marks are used for conversation, but that I actually liked that.
The beginning was a little slow for me, but I quickly became hooked. Towards the end of the book, I skimmed a lot as I felt the story dragging.
I must say that some of the horrors inflicted by the Third Reich were written about in graphic detail, and I've had a hard time pushing the images out of my mind. So, consider yourself warned. By no means am I sorry I read this book, though. I won't forget this one for a long time. For me, the only thing that could have made it better would have been if there was a little more closure at the end, but I can see how that would not have been true to the characters and why the book had to end the way it did.
I found this book to be moving. It is not normally the genre that I choose (I go for more lighthearted, non-serious types) but this one grabbed me from the beggining making me want to finish it. A good choice.
This was a very intense story and it amazes me how some of the native Germans managed to endure the oppression they suffered under the terror of the Nazi regime, as the heroine of this story did. Worth the read.
A very hard, interesting read! I have always wondered "how could they" when I thought, read or heard about people involved with the Nazi regime, but this book really opened my eyes to how so many "went along" out of fear for their lifes or the lives of their loved ones. Does this make it right? No, of course not, but I was shaken when I had to honestly confront thoughts of "what would I have done in the face of threats to the life of my child...myself...my mother...etc". A chilling, thought-provoking story.