Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Georg Rauch
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Georg Rauch's maternal grandmother was a Jew, thus making him Jewish by tradition. Because his father was a captain in World War I, Rauch's family was spared the concentration camps, but not the horrors of battle. At age 19, Rauch leaves his family, and the other Jews hiding in their attic, to fight for Hitler. When he makes his heritage known to his superiors, he is sent to the front lines. In a detailed, but non-grotesque, account, Georg Rauch helps the reader experience first hand what it would have been like to fight in the trenches during World War II, starve in a prison camp, and to finally see their home again, through blurred vision and alive, but an old man in a 21 year old body.
Rauch utilizes his own letters he wrote home to his parents during the war. Although he is aware of his desperate situation, Rauch somehow still captures what little humor is available in telling his tales. Citizen accounts of Nazi Germany are quite common, but a soldier's experience rare, quite possibly merely because not many of them made it home. Miraculous on numerous levels, Rauch survives and goes on to inspire readers that they too can keep their chin up in the midst of difficulties, can encourage those around them, and most importantly can use their experiences to help others.