A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy
I am very excited to add the first guest blogger review thanks to Esme at Chocolate and Croissants. (Her blog is a “MUST CHECK OUT”…. but don’t go hungry as she has many delicious food articles as well as her book reviews.
There are numerous ways that I find new books to read, LA Times Bestseller list, my local library and book blogs. A few weeks ago, I saw a review for “A Lucky Child”; this is Thomas Buergenthal’s memoirs of surviving Auschwitz as a young boy.
As sombre, as these books often are, enough of these stories could not be told. As an attorney, Buergenthal’s career fascinated me. Buergenthal received law degrees from New York University Law School and Harvard Law School and devoted his life to international and human rights law. Currently he is the American judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague Netherlands. Having served on various human rights committees, he believes that his Holocaust experience has had a very substantial impact on the human being he became. Buergenthal says it impacted “on his life as an international law professor, human rights lawyer, and international judge. It might seem obvious that my past would draw me to human rights and to international law, whether or not I knew it at the time. In any event, it equipped me to be a better human rights lawyer, if only because I understood, not only intellectually but also emotionally, what it is like to be a victim of human rights violations I could, after all, feel it in my bones”.
Buergenthal was only ten when he found himself at Auschwitz. Along the way, his father had devised ways for him to survive and avoid “being selected”. His memoir tells his amazing story of surviving the ghettos, labor camps and being separated from his parents as a ten year old child. Starved to the point of malnutrition, his father had warned him against eating food found in the garbage.
During his time in a labor camp, one of his duties was to collect garbage. Once while collecting garbage outside the SS kitchen, he had his friends saw a pan filled with milk. It had been years since he had tasted milk. The decision to climb into the kitchen and take a few sips was quickly made. He knew what his punishment would have been if he had been caught. Buergenthal writes “but we were not caught, and to this day I can still taste that heavenly mouthful of milk. No milk has ever tasted so good”. He then goes on to say how his own children would have to be coaxed to drink milk and how he would have to hide his anger that they did not appreciate having milk. I could relate to Buergenthals’ frustration. My parents were children of the war. My mother’s home was bombed by the Nazis, burying my grandmother alive and leaving my uncle without eyesight in one eye. My father’s family escaped such horrors. My dad always provided a nice warm meal for us three times a day. He loved taking us out for dessert. However he had one cardinal rule; do not let your eyes be bigger than your mouth. Nothing would raise the ire of my father, a rather quiet man, more than us children wasting food. As an adult it is easy to understand where this frustration came from. During the war he and his siblings were often without food as they would spend the night in bomb shelters.
Please take time to checkout Esme’s blog as this post has more details on her blog as well as great pictures. CHOCOLATE AND CROISSANTS
Thank you Esme for this opportunity to share space and get insight to a great book that will have to go on my to be read list!