Let Me Go

Let Me Go

Book - 2004
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The extraordinary memoir, praised across Europe, of a daughter's final encounter with her mother, a former SS guard at Auschwitz.

In 1941, in Berlin, Helga Schneider's mother abandoned her, her younger brother, and her father. Thirty years later-- when she saw her mother again for the first time-- Schneider discovered the shocking reason: Her mother had joined the Nazi SS and had become a guard in concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbr#65533;ck, where she was in charge of a "correction" unit and responsible for untold acts of torture.

Nearly three more decades would pass before their second and final reunion, an emotional encounter at a Vienna nursing home, where her mother, then eighty-seven and unrepentant about her past, was ailing. Let Me Go is an extraordinary account of that meeting. Their conversation-- which Schneider recounts in spellbinding detail-- triggers childhood memories, and she weaves these into her account, powerfully evoking the misery of Nazi and postwar Berlin. Yet it is her internal struggle-- a daughter's sense of obligation colliding with the inescapable horror of what her mother has done-- that will stay with readers long after the book has ended.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., c2004.
ISBN: 9780802714350
Characteristics: 166 p. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Whiteside, Shaun


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Apr 14, 2010

Fast, gripping read. I couldn't put it down. Harrowing.

Nov 14, 2005

What attracts me to these books, I cannot say. I do enjoy historical reads and this small book is a memoir of a time period that I am interested in, to a point. But this book turns into one of those situations where you cannot look away no matter how bad it gets. A visit to a Vienna nursing home by a daughter to see a mother she does not know or understand is part of a story that is a compelling read. The other part is the fact that the mother was a guard in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbruck which came as a big surprise to her now grown daughter. In fact the shock of finding this out was only eclipsed by hearing that her mother was very good at her job. But very bad at being a mother. Abandoning her two children, she now insists they are dead even though her daughter is standing in front of her. Her behavior suggests some kind of mental disorder, but her thoughtful answers to her daughter''s probing questions only make her look sane. The strength of her daughter to bring this record to life is as astounding as her justifications and adherence to the Nazi ideology that are the only proof of her involvement in mass murder.


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