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THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ BY ANTONIO ITURBE

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up sign up here >>

REVIEWS

Michael O'Connor

Having visited Auschwitz twice I found the book riveting. Although primarily a work of fiction the book is based on fact. The central character Dita, her spirit and her love of books provided a real page turner. The book highlighted the appalling atrocities taking place in Auschwitz outlining Dita's life there and the horrific experiences she went through. It is based on a true untold story which makes the book even more special.

Not all of the characters in the book are likeable, as they are based on real people, some of them especially the soldiers were sadistic and performed horrific acts towards the inmates which were both horrific and heart breaking. The side stories of the different characters in the camp, most of whom were real life inmates, including the experiments carried out on twins added to the book. I would recommend this book to anybody wanting to find out more about the holocaust and the triumph of human spirit during this awful episode in history. Dita, now 90 years old was recently on BBC Radio 4. Highly recommended and a very emotional read, great companion for a future river/ocean cruise!

David Thomas

Historical fiction is not really one of my favourite genres, I also tend to avoid books that take place during World War II in particular relating to the Holocaust. I find the subject matter to upsetting and unnerving. However, I was intrigued by this book – a combination of historical record and historical fiction novel. I found it totally fascination as I knew nothing of the ‘library’ or this human aspect of life is such tragic and dehumanising conditions.

This was a difficult read because of the subject – it is detailed and direct. I loved it and found it both harrowing and stimulating at the same time. I had to read the book in chapter by chapter tranches I found long reads too much to take. But it was well worth the effort.

As personal memories of the holocaust begin to diminish as the survivors pass due to their increasing age I think it is very important that such intelligent, accurate and documentable books as this are important testimonies to their suffering. Lest we forget the mistakes of the past and slide back to a dark side of the human psyche.

Susan Stout

This book is based on the true life experiences of an Auschwitz prisoner called Dita Kraus. Dita risked her life to save a few well-worn books during the Holocaust. The story highlights the plight of the people within Auschwitz and the horrors they encountered. It is interesting to note that the author was able to meet with Dita and hear her side of the story and so consequently this is an accurate description as well as some fictional additions.

I have read a selection of books recounting and recording experiences during this time and I find this an almost dispassionate read due to the factual content, recording events rather than emotions. I also found the sudden change of tense at time difficult as it interrupted the flow of the story, although this may be due to the translation. An interesting book and one well worth reading, but perhaps not a light hearted holiday read.

Linda Hastings

An excellent book that embodies the whole philosophy of Viking cruises i.e. the value of lifelong learning about other cultures and countries. It tells the story of a young girl and other inmates within the concentration camp at Auschwitz who realise the value of education and the part that books play in fulfilling this. Although it is very harrowing in parts the spirit and hope that is present in the main characters is something to be marvelled at.

Catherine Adams

This book is a story of a 14 year old girl called Dita, who was imprisoned with her parents at Auschwitz. The German authorities established a family camp as an attempt to hide from the rest of the world the horrors of their extermination camp.

The prisoners set up a school for the children, and Dita became the protector of 8 books that she had to hide away from the guards. Discovery of the books would have meant certain death for Dita.

The book tells of Ditas struggles to keep the books secret and also of harrowing tales of groups of people from the camp and also children from the school. They faced hunger and starvation, and fear on a daily basis.

Survival is utmost in their thoughts, and hope that one day they will be rescued from the horrors of the camp.

This book is a very moving story of a young girl’s bravery and determination to help everyone around her. A must read for everyone.

Sally Allan

This book is based on the real-life story of Dita Kraus a teenage girl from Prague imprisoned at Auschwitz. Here she risks her life to bring the joy of books (books in Auschwitz are banned by the SS.) to the young children imprisoned there.

The story covers the atrocities of Auschwitz and Belsen; nothing is left to the imagination. At the same time there is a thread running through of the joy of books in our lives and the bravery of Dita and other prisoners to provide an education to the children in the hope that one day they will be free and will need a basic education to help them rebuild their lives. This is uplifting.

I visited Auschwitz several years ago, this brought back that unforgettable experience. My knowledge of Prague is very limited. Prague is now on my Viking river cruise bucket list!