This is, among other things, a compelling documentation of the sheer brutality of the German invasion and the random nature of events, on the street one minute, facing a firing squad the next. Harrowing, deeply sad, but triumphant, Siegreich means "victorious".
'Not another Holocaust memoir,' I groaned under my breath when I received my review copy. And there is really nothing new in Sigi Siegrich's story of the horrors of war-time Poland - the deprivations of daily life, the humiliations (and worse) suffered at the hands of the Nazi occupiers, the overnight disappearances of family and friends - never to be seen again. But (big, big 'but'), this particular telling - this particular viewpoint - is mesmerising. It is personal and well beyond personal, self-aware without self-pity and honest without hatred. The publishers are marketing this book as an adult title, though I think (because it is so well written and so well told) that young readers will also find it compelling. So, get a copy for your teenage nephew, niece or grandchild. They will be horrified and they may even shed a few tears. I can guarantee that they won't forget it - and that is the main thing!
Simon Auld, Readings
One of the things that I loved the most was the voice of Siegmund, it was so real and immediate and engaging. I also loved the fact that till the end he was looking at every person as an individual, he was still able to appreciate some humanity in a few of these German characters and at the same time notice that not all Jews were good to all other Jews. It would have been so much easier to make everything just black or white but he was intelligent enough to understand that the world even under the extreme conditions is still not just black or white. It may be also that that very capacity of always looking for good that allowed him to survive the years of war. I don't think that anybody can ever truly imagine how it would feel to live through the things that Siegmund and so many others lived through, or understand the incredible courage and integrity that people like Moniek had, but at least we can glimpse it through the eyes of Siegmund. When I closed the book I kept thinking about how amazing the human spirit is: capable of unimaginable cruelty but at the same time possessing this almost indestructible will to live and love.
Anna Oâ??Grady, Category Manager Books, Lagadere Services Asia Pacific