Dignity and grace set against the horror of history: "Auschwitz Lullaby" by Mario Escobar

Helene Hannemann is busy getting herself ready for work and her five children prepared for school when the normalcy of their morning is shattered by the sound of the German police coming up her family's apartment stairs. Soon, Helene and her family are swept up into an unimaginable nightmare as they are forced from their home simply because her husband and children are of Romani heritage. Though Helene could have stayed behind as she is German, she stands by her family and accompanies them to the concentration camp of Auschwitz. Upon learning that she is both German and a nurse, Dr. Mengele places her in charge of creating a daycare and school for the camp. In the midst of horrific conditions, Helene must find a way for herself and her children to hold onto their dignity...and their lives.

Quite honestly, it is difficult to even give a rating to a story like this, one that is extremely well written and yet horrifying to read about knowing it is based on a true story. "Auschwitz Lullaby" will remind you of the depths of human depravity along with the capability for people to display amazing courage and grace at the same time. Escobar has succeeded at bringing to life these characters from the pages of history, highlighting Helene's humanity but also her almost divine courage, which contrasts so tellingly with the bizarre nature of Dr. Mengele. I felt so bad for the poor parents who had to watch their children be taken away by Dr. Mengele for his "experiments"!

"Auschwitz Lullaby" held me in its grip from the first few paragraphs, when I was captured by Helene's bravery and felt such sympathy for her poor children. Having children myself, I cannot imagine the impossible choices that Helene had to make over the course of this story. There are moments that are so achingly real that I had to take a moment to put down the book and allow myself to sort through the feelings this story was invoking. Escobar has crafted a beautiful, heart-breaking story, and Helene Hannemann will long remain on my mind.

I strongly recommend this novel not only for those readers who typically read historical fiction, but anyone looking for a thought-provoking, mesmerising book, period. 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher through the Booklook Bloggers program.

about the author...

Mario EscobarMario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.

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