Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Book 2: Schindler's List

First off, I haven't seen the movie, so I only vaguely knew who Oskar Schindler was and the impact he made on the survival of Jewish prisoners during WW2.  This novel is as factual as the author was able to make it; some elements had to be imagined, such as actual conversations between individuals, but the story within is one of truth and very little fiction.

By most accounts, Oskar Schindler was a man who enjoyed indulgences and pleasure; he drank and smoked often and kept several mistresses alongside his wife.  He is never painted as a saint, but as having an almost childish attitude towards his private life and his excesses.  An unremarkable man before the war and one who lived the rest of his life without incident, his greatest actions occurred between 1939-1945, in which his factories, under the guise of needing skilled workers, became safe havens for hundreds of Jewish prisoners otherwise destined for concentration camps.  Because of his compassion, his want to save innocent lives and his anger at the senseless murders occurring, those who may not have survived -did- and went on to tell an extraordinary story.

Owing to this novel being mostly factual, there are swathes of text to get through and I found myself referring back to the little glossary of German-English military rankings time and again.  It left me frustrated in parts, as the Jewish population was herded into ghettos, stripped of their possessions, reassuring themselves that everything would be okay and resisting little.  It had me shaking my head at the horrors the prisoners suffered, the brutal executions, the constant threat of violence.  It was a struggle to plough through at times, but reading of the liberation of the camps, the freedom of those who had suffered and the way they, in turn, protected their protector was immensely satisfying, as was discovering the punishments of those who had committed those heinous acts.

I didn't know what to expect as I started reading.  Despite it being hard to continue at times, due to endless descriptions, I am glad I read it.  I don't often stray from fiction, but this was worth making the exception for.  It's a heavy book, tragic but ultimately uplifting and insightful.  I hope you're all having a great day today, thank you for stopping by!



  1. I want to read this one! I watched the movie many years ago and don't remember anything. This will be added to my read list!

    1. It's a hard read, but I think you'll be glad when you get through it!