Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Surviving Hitler {Deseret Book Review}

Gustav Palm kept his secret for more than forty years. He’d been a young man when Hitler invaded his native Norway. After being forced to guard a Nazi prison camp, however, Gustav took his only option for escape: he volunteered for the Waffen-SS to fight at the front.
Agnes Erdös grew up in privilege and prosperity as a child in Hungary. She and her parents were practicing Roman Catholics, but they were ethnic Jews, and after the Nazis invaded her country, Agnes and her parents were sent to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Miraculously, both Agnes and Gustav survived. And after the war, they found each other.
Told in their own words, Surviving Hitler is the story of two indomitable spirits who built on their life-altering experiences to overcome the past, help each other heal, and embrace a common faith in God that led them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I have not read a holocaust book since reading The Diary of Ann Frank in high school.  It is such a horrible time in history and the outcome for thousands of innocent people is dreadful and caused me sleepless nights.  I was so horrified to discover what happens to dear Ann Frank that I have not been able to read another story like it since.  I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

When I was given the opportunity to review this book I was struck immediately by the fact that this book will show case survivors of Hitler's regime.  I gave it a chance and I'm so glad I did!  This story focuses on 2 individuals, Gustav and Agnes.

Gustav lived in Norway when Hitlers army invaded.  At the time, like so many others, he was "offered" an opportunity to join the Norwegian Battalion.  He wasn't particularly interested but after much pressure they convinced him that he owed allegiance to the socialist party and that he could be a "police officer."  Thinking "traffic police" Gustav knew that this opportunity would be better than farming so he took it.  Poor Gustav!  He was manipulated and found himself a guard at a Nazi prison camp.  He was trapped.  His heart broke for the "political prisoners" which he realized later were actually Jews and he remarks that as guards they were literally "prisoners guarding prisoners."  It's eye-opening to realize that so many members of Hitlers army were unwilling and ashamed to do his bidding - but they really had no choice.

Agnes was a young lady living in Hungary when Hitler invaded.  Her family, while of Jewish decent, had converted to Catholicism many years before.  It didn't matter, those of Jewish faith or those of Jewish decent were forced into the ghetto anyway.  Eventually, with her mother and father, she was loaded into a cramped boxcar and taken to Auschwitz.  Through a series of life-saving events Agnes made it into barracks with other healthy women who would be given the opportunity to work.  She never saw her parents again.

As you read this story you can see, amazingly, God's hand working through the tragedy as Agnes and Gustav eventually survive the war and find each other, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and happiness!

Written by their son O. Hakan Palm, and told as journal entries from the perspective of Agnes and Gustav, this book will take you to Hitler's Reich and back again.  It is amazing!  I will be holding onto this book to use while we study World War II  in our homeschool.  It is well written and perfect for High School age students.

Surviving Hitler retails currently in hardback for $17.99 and as an Deseret Bookshelf eBook for TODAY only at $9.99!  (Regular price is $19.99 so snatch it up quick!)

You can read an excerpt here.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, I am trying to figure out how to be able to review books for Deseret Book on my blog/podcast, but haven't been able to get ahold of the right person to do so. Do you have any information that might point me in the right direction by any chance? Thanks so much!


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