A Gypsy In Auschwitz: How I Survived the Horrors of the ‘Forgotten Holocaust’
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The trauma not ending when he was liberated, but all through his life and this led to his remarkable retelling of events within the camps. This memoir does not package his concentration camp experience as a source of inspiration or tribute to the undefeatable human spirit.
As the title of this book suggests, the mass killing of the Sinti and the Roma is often described as a 'forgotten holocaust. This is one book that if you enjoy reading about the terrible things that happened in the past then you should check this one out because it gives you the facts without making you feel terrible. Instead, you get to know bits of his language, culture, and desire to survive a stolen childhood as he is torn from his family, his caravan home, and his lifestyle as he is drug from one labor/concentration camp to another.Forcing these communities to break cultural laws for the placement of rubbish and washing adds an additional layer of humiliation to their treatment. He learned that the entire Birkenau Gypsy camp has been liquidated Including his grandmother and cousins and grandchildren were wiped out who had remained in Auschwitz. This Sinti boy, who most would incorrectly assume has no interest in education, delights in learning Latin, serves as an altar boy and dreams of being a priest.
This book really hit me in the feelings a few times, there were two moments that will really stay with me. Otto noticed that his family began to be broken up and people would often disappear, some were also ‘sent East’. The informal tone of this extraordinarily moving memoir means that although the subject matter is difficult, the words flow in a conversational style which is very readable. In his account of growing up under the horrors of the Holocaust, he tells his story with startling honesty, the emotion in the writing almost dispassionate, which has the adverse effect of making what we’re reading have less impact.Nobody seems to question why a train full of Roma and Sinti children are on the train in the first place.
The German authorities took advantage of the Romani people‘s lack of literacy and actively did whatever they could not to give them the monetary compensation they were entitled.This is a book that will leave its readers gasping as they struggle to understand the brutality that occurred at that time. Otto is still free to go in and out of his camp, but he will struggle to explain the actions of the adults in his life. However, when he goes looking for reparations for his time in the concentration camps and the murder of so much of his family, he says "I had to go to the district court, only to be told that I wasn’t a real German and had no ties to Berlin. When Otto tries to refuse doing that same work, his superiors say he can't refuse to work and that he has to contribute. Despite being born in East Prussia and brought up in Berlin, he is repeatedly congratulated for speaking German well.
This book although a little simplistic will act as a valuable first hand transcript and help ensure the atrocities are not forgotten. I felt sick to my stomach the whole way through, the thought of someone going through something so horrific is just heartbreaking and unimaginable. Author, Otto Rosenberg, was nine when Sinti were rounded up in Berlin and placed in ghettos, years prior to their being transported and imprisoned en masse in concentration camps. Any book or novel that deals with the Nazi persecution of not just Jews but others such as gypsy’s, is difficult to read and review, simply because of the horrific nature of the story. I don’t normally read memoirs or biographies, I mostly read fiction novels, and this book is so different to anything that I’ve ever read, yet this little book will probably have a bigger impact in how I see the world and how grateful I am for everything we have got than ten 300 page novels could ever have.
This is the story of a young boy who managed to survive the most vicious and deadly of concentration camps. Whilst overall Otto’s story is simplistic in it’s telling, I did find parts confusing as he would be talking about his mother where she would be dead and then literally not much further on he would mention her again but she would be alive. It emotionally hurts to the point of your heart aching to how they then got treated during this difficult time. He is poor, but strives to keep himself clean, do well in school and earn his upkeep with anything he can do to help his family financially.