Auschwitz, 1942: This unforgettable novel, based on a true story, brings to life history’s most powerful tale of forbidden love. Set within the barbed wire of Auschwitz, a man and a woman fall in love against unimaginable odds. What happens next will restore your faith in humanity, and make you believe in hope even where hope should not exist.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he whispered, pressing a note into her hand. Her entire body trembled when she read it: I am in love with you.
Helena steps off the cattle train onto the frozen grounds of Auschwitz. She has twenty-four hours to live. Scheduled to be killed tomorrow, she is not even tattooed with a prison number. As the snow falls around her, she shivers, knowing that she has been sentenced to death for a crime she didn’t commit.
When a gray-clad officer marches towards Helena and pulls her away, she fears the worst. Instead, he tells her that it’s one of the guard’s birthdays and orders her to serenade him.
Inside the SS barracks the air is warm, thick with cigarette smoke and boisterous conversation. After she sings to the guard, Franz, he presses a piece of cake into her hands––the first thing she has eaten in days. On the spot, he orders her life to be saved, forever changing the course of her fate.
What follows is a love story that was forbidden, that should have been impossible, and yet saved both of their lives––and hundreds of others––in more ways than one.
Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Choice, and The Orphan Train will be utterly entranced by this unputdownable page-turner. This completely heartbreaking yet beautifully hopeful novel shows that love can survive anything and grow anywhere.
This book was previously published as Auschwitz Syndrome.
Ellie Midwood has written another chilling and realistic book. One that is based on a true story of love and compassion. One done with extensive research. Read the author’s notes at the end and get the whole story.
Two quotes from this book that I want to share:
1) Someone said that Auschwitz was such a terrible place that God himself decided not to go there. To be honest, I couldn’t agree more with that statement.
2) If, in the future, you see a teenager shout a racial slur at someone, stop him, pull him to one side and explain to him where you served and how such slurs led to the slaughter of millions. If you see a newspaper article denying the Nazi crimes, write one countering it and tell the people exactly what you’ve witnessed. The hatred, the racism, the xenophobia didn’t miraculously disappear with Hitler. They’re all still very much alive and kicking and it’s up to us to do something to fight them. (this is very profound, very spot on)
This is the story of a young woman, just a girl actually, who was sent to Auschwitz to be gassed. Her and her family were to die. It was just by a miracle that she was saved. By her singing a song to a young SS officer, a kid, that saved her. Both of the main characters in this book are so very young. They should have been enjoying their young lives. Living, going to school, out on dates. Living. Not surviving. Not one being in charge of lives. Not one being a victim of such hatred.
This story is very touching and very emotional. When Helena is saved from the gas chamber by Franz she has no idea what is in store for her. All the things that will happen. All the horrors she will see. The deaths. The cremations. The abuse. It’s beyond belief. Yet it happened. All around her every day. She was spared death but lived a horrible life in a prison camp. The only thing that saved her was the love of a young man. And it was love. At least from him. Not sure if she was in love or a victim of Stockholm syndrome. Either way it saved her. He treated her as a human being. He learned to treat all of the prisoners as humans.
Franz was I’m sure taught from a very young age to hate. He was groomed to be a SS officer and do the things that he was told. He could be cruel yes. He could be kind also. He learned that kindness was better. Love taught him that I’m sure. It’s very sad that these young people were groomed this way. Even today it happens. That is the sad part. Franz did things that he was sorry for. He paid a price. He also fell in love with Helena. A young lady who was suppose to die.
This is their story. It’s not all glam and shiny. It’s brutal. It’s sad. It’s filled with scenes that you will see. You will feel. You will cringe. You will most certainly weep. Hearing Helena’s story hurts. It breaks your heart. Also hearing what Franz has to say will break you. I felt very bad for him and just could not help it. I think there are good people at times forced to do bad things and this is certainly the case here. Though he did show that he cared. He had a conscience. He took no part in having people gassed. He saved a few and that is commendable in my opinion. I had relatives who were Polish and I’m sure back then they would have felt differently. Possibly.
This is a very heartfelt story. Well written and well researched. I have to say this author does a great job of writing historical fiction. She gives it her all. So much feeling went into this book. You will feel it too. The hatred. The pain. The screams. And yes possibly the love between a boy and a girl.
I had to put it down a few times and walk away to compose myself and so I could see the words. It’s very emotional. Especially towards the ending.
Thank you #NetGalley, #EllieMidwood, #Bookouture for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book.
5/5 stars and I do recommend it. Have plenty of tissues handy.