I find myself fascinated by stories of people, particularly children, who manage to overcome incredible odds such as surviving the Holocaust. I am drawn to books about them, and A Lucky Child
is one of the more moving and amazing stories I have read in this vein. Thomas Buergenthal recounts his life story. Though perhaps the most incredible section details his survival in Auschwitz (his group avoided a selection upon their entrance to the camp, which would have ended Thomas' life quickly, and he managed to stay with his father and learn the tricks to surviving the camp), his life before and after are no less incredible. Thomas goes from a Jewish ghetto to Nazi camps, including grueling death marches, to spending time as the companion of a Polish army regiment, and even more amazing stories. Through it all, Thomas writes impeccably. His emotions do not cloud his writing; he is reflective, fair, and very detailed, though of course the memories of childhood are often clouded.
I found Buergenthal's take on his early life fascinating, especially the tiny details he remembers from the camp. The way he avoided the selections within the camps highlights the fact that even given the way Nazis are often portrayed as mindless, machinistic monsters, they were only human, and prone to mistakes and distractions. He remembers certain details that highlight the brutality, the humanity, the suffering, and the kindness to be found in all of war-torn Europe in the 1940s. And what Thomas did with his life after the camps is to be commended. He is a hero. It was a very worthy read, and Mr. Buergenthal is a man I very much admire after reading his book.