Saturday, July 12, 2014

SURVIVING HITLER - THE UNLIKELY TRUE STORY OF AN SS SOLDIER AND A JEWISH WOMAN - by O.HAKAN PALM

pic and description taken from email from the publisher


Description:

Gustav Palm kept his secret for more than forty years. He’d been a young man when Hitler invaded his native Norway. After being forced to guard a Nazi prison camp, however, Gustav took his only option for escape: he volunteered for the Waffen-SS to fight at the front.

Agnes Erdös grew up in privilege and prosperity as a child in Hungary. She and her parents were practicing Roman Catholics, but they were ethnic Jews, and after the Nazis invaded her country, Agnes and her parents were sent to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Miraculously, both Agnes and Gustav survived. And after the war, they found each other. Told in their own words, Surviving Hitleris the story of two indomitable spirits who built on their life-altering experiences to overcome the past, help each other heal, and embrace a common faith in God that led them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My Review / Thoughts:

This is really a time I wish I was good with words.  I wish I could express in beautiful writing how much I loved this book, because it deserves that.  Unfortunately I was born with the gift of "gab" and not the gift of "writing".  I can only hope that my review will encourage another person to read this amazing story.

Stories about the holocaust are so very hard for me to read.  In all honesty I try to avoid them.  I like to read to escape reality, not live it through the words of a book.  When I saw this book come up for review though, I had to jump on the wagon.  I am always amazed when I read stories about the holocaust and how people came out "okay".  That time in our history is so heart breaking, that is hard for me to believe that anything good came out of it.  I am so very thankful that so many good things did come from such a horrible time in history.  

This story is told in Agnes and Gustav's words through their son.  They came from very different back grounds, and the entire time you will read about the same time, yet they are going through very different experiences.  The small miracles that happen to each of them are evident and I love that they acknowledge that they are miracles.  

I am an emotional person to begin with, so lets just say this book had me in tears on multiple occasions.  Sobbing, deep, breath tears.  Some were sad, and some were happy.  None the less, this book brought out so many emotions while reading it.

I cannot imagine the horror that Agnes had to witness, and go through on a daily basis.  When she talks about her trip to Auschwitz and the last time she sees her parents, my heart was so heavy.  I cannot image the pain she went through as she watched her parents walk away, and be taken into the gas chambers.  Through all of her hardships and terrors she had to live through she never lost faith.  She may have questioned where God was at times, but deep down she knew he was always with her.

Gustav's point of view often made me angry.  Not because he was a bad man, because he is not, but because of the horrible things he was forced to do as a soldier.  I cannot image the turmoil he went through knowing that he was fighting a war in which he did not fully agree with.  He served and did his duty, but knew that what they were doing was wrong.  I understand why he kept his past a secret.  I have to admit that while reading it at times, I didn't think too highly of him.  I had to remind myself, that he really had no choice in the matter.  I cannot image the heart ache he has had to go through knowing what role he played in such a horrific time in history.  I grew to love Gustav and my heart aches that he even had to experience such things.  

When Agnes and Gustav meet, I was absolutely blown away at the willingness and love that Agnes had for this complete stranger that she saw sitting alone.  This woman has a heart bigger than life.  She saw the good in people regardless of their background.  She and Gustav are such an example of love, forgiveness, acceptance and overcoming the trials that life throws at you.  

Reading this story really does put into perspective how easy my life really is!  I really have no room to complain.  We may experience hardships in our lives but how we handle them will decide what kind of person we will be.  

Anges and Gustav's journeys were heart breaking, and horrible, but it also led to a beautiful life.  It's hard to imagine that something so beautiful came from something so horrific.  Now, they have a legacy of love that is larger than even they imagined.  They have touched the lives of countless people.  They are the true example of faith, unconditional love, and forgiveness.

Whether you are a religious person or not, this book is beautiful.  The writing is beautiful.  The glimpse into the lives of these two beautiful humans is amazing.  

This book was inspiring, and wonderful.  If you get a chance to pick it up, I do not think you will regret a minute of your time.

Source:  I received this ARC copy from Deseret Book in return for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.

My Rating:
(It's times like this that I wish I could give a larger star rating.  This book deserves more than 5!!!)


Where to Buy:



About the Author:
(couldn't find a picture)
bio taken from email from the publisher

O. Hakan Palm, eldest son of Gustav and Agnes Erdos Palm, has been shaped by his parent’s wartime experiences. A successful management consultant in Stockholm, Sweden, Hakan has served faithfully in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a bishop, as a member of two stake presidencies, and seven times as a counselor in the Sweden Stockholm Mission. He and his wife, Barbro, are the parents of seven children.


Thanks Goes To:
Sam Preston
Marketing Manager
Deseret Book | Shadow Mountain Publishing | Excel Entertainment
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