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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.3 out of 5
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  • A haunting tale

    I read a lot of historical fiction especially based around WWII, but I have to say that this was one of the hardest books I've ever read. Not in terms of word-level, but in terms of the graphic first-person POVs that the story contains. I read the first couple of chapters and honestly didn't want to read any more because it was so painful and horrifying to read even as a bystander in the future. I made myself go back to it because the simple act of reading it was not even 1% of the pain that these humans went through during the Holocaust. At alternate times, I wanted to throw up, turn away, and cry. The writing seemed a bit abrasive at times, but it fits the mood of the book when you have no food and your brain can't function, just one step at a time. This book really rocked me even to the end when it talks about the continued effects of the Holocaust for the rest of these survivors' lives.

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  • Did not finish

    I decided to stop reading this book at 21% through. The writing style as told in first person from each individual was frustrating to follow. There were no quotations and even though I imagine it’s told as quoted, the sentences were often long and confusing. Each chapter alternates between the two brothers and for some reason I couldn’t keep track of who was Dov and who was Yitzak, mainly who was where and what had happened to them. I’ve read many fiction and non-fiction stories of WWII and the Holocaust, and was expecting something similar to Elie Wiesel’s Night, or Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning and was disappointed.

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  • Excellent but harrowing

    The Brothers of Auschwitz is a powerful book written by Israeli Author Malka Adler, based on the true stories of teenage brothers Dov and Yitzhak’s harrowing (that word seems so weak) experiences during the holocaust in WWII. The brothers and their family were unmercifully removed from their village in Czechoslovakia in 1944, they were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Adler uses their accounts as well as her father’s own experiences in Treblinka and her own research to write this incredible story. This book is in three, roughly equal parts; the holocaust period, immediate post-war ‘recuperation’ period and finally their lives in Israel. Each chapter alternates between Dov and Yitzhak’s accounts of the same events, this style provides the reader with their different perspectives, it is also an excellent way of following each brother during the times they are separated. The style was so overwhelmingly descriptive, intense, dark and heavy. It was relentless, there was so much matter on each page you could linger for much longer to let the material sink in – it is and should be a long read. It is hard work, really hard work. Their journey takes in their experiences at several concentration camps, labour camps such as Zeiss, death marches, post-war hospitals, repatriation to their home village and their journey to, and their lives in Israel. I learned so much about the terrible experiences of Jews during this period, it was visceral and unremitting. Some examples, of the hundreds I could draw on are; Their lives were determined by the flick of an SS Officer’s white-gloved finger on the train ramp at Auschwitz. The orchestra. The smell of the crematorium. I will leave it to you to discover what their physiological reactions were to the smell during captivity. Forced labour, this was a sure-fire way of slowly killing people, they worked them senseless, didn’t provide anywhere near enough food or water, or clothing – these people lasted no more than three months. Then in comes the next shipment of labour. The abhorrent behaviour of the Germans was shocking, but also the Hungarians, Russians and many others was just as bad. Even fellow inmates – the depravity was off the scale. The conditions in the camps were worse than you could imagine, and due to the way this nightmare world was presented by Adler, you had a real sense of place (as much as you can get), it was suffocatingly horrible. The resilience of people who died and survived was remarkable, the recovery period after the war was equally traumatic, many didn’t survive and those who did were scarred and damaged physically and psychologically and usually both. The way their neighbours from their home town assumed ownership of their home, livestock, pets and possessions, the silence of their neighbours, and even active complicit actions seemed to come so naturally. The questioning by fellow Jews in Israel asking, “why didn’t you fight back?” was just too upsetting to put into words. How could they fight back? Their residual behaviours, such as hiding bread under their pillows, or their pockets, long after the war ended. Their lives in captivity endured. Yitzhak’s memories of the young German girl with plaits during his forced marches to the Zeiss factory – are so very heart-warming and sad. I’ll leave you to discover the details of that interaction. A friend of mine recently asked me, “How can you read such a book?”, I think the question must be “How can we not?”. This, and books like this, should be read by as many people as possible. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity have occurred since, and still occur to this day. Aspects of humanity, and the human condition is something we all need to own and be ashamed of in equal measure. I cannot recommend this book enough; this experience will stay with me for a long time to come. 5 Stars I would like to thank NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review – reading this book was a privilege.

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  • Recommended

    I loved this book would highly recommend to anyone very moving and informative

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  • The tale of the suffering of two Jewish brothers

    This Holocaust story is heartbreaking. It is brutal at times and hard to read. The emotions are extreme and realistic. It was a terrible time in history and the atrocities against the Jewish people are unforgivable. Hitler caused so much pain and suffering for so many. These brothers went through so much, I am glad they found each other again. It was sad to see how the non Jewish treated them and that someone took their home. Not only was the pain and suffering inflicted at the time in Auschwitz, and the other camps, but it is a hurt that they will forever carry with them and they will never forget, nor should we thus it be repeated in history. It was written in a prose like writing which was a bit hard to follow, but it was a good story and it needed to be told. Thanks to the Malka Adler, Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy.

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