Let Me Go

Let Me Go

Book - 2004
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In 1998, Helga Schneider, in her sixties, was summoned from Italy to the nursing home in Vienna in which her 90-year-old mother lived. The last time she had seen her mother was 27 years earlier, when her mother asked her daughter to try on the SS uniform which she treasures, and tried to give her several items of jewellery, the loot of holocaust victims, which Schneider rejected. Prior to that, the last time they had seen each other was in 1941 (when Schneider was 4 and her brother 19 months old), when Fr Schnider abandoned her family in order to pursue her career as an SS officer. As their conversation continues, Schneider establishes that from the Nazi women's camp at Ravensbruck, her mother moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau where she was in charge of a 'correction' unit where brutal torture was administered. Her mother not only remains uncontrite, but continues to regard her former prisoners as the sub-human inferiors of Nazi ideology. extremely powerful. She describes without sentimentality or self-pity her own difficult upbringing and the raising of her own child against the background of painful confrontation of the reality of her mother. She skilfully interweaves her family history the story of their final meeting and powerfully evokes the dreadful misery of Nazi and immediate post-war Berlin. This is an important document on many levels: as holocaust history, as evidence of the power of political ideology, and as an exploration of moral responsibility.
Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., c2004
ISBN: 9780434010493
Branch Call Number: 306.87430922 SCH 2004 22
Characteristics: 149 p
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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