Recently I watched an interview with a twin who was subjected to Dr. Josef Mengele's experiments at Auschwitz. Her voice rang in my head as I read Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar. The atrocities of which Mengele was guilty were great, and he was never brought to justice on this side of eternity. In this book Escobar tells the story of Helene Hannemann, largely adhering to the actual facts of her time at Auschwitz with her five children. Helene, an Aryan, voluntarily accompanied her Gypsy husband and their children when the soldiers came to take them away. Her determination to care for her children and those of other Gypsy families in the camp improved the circumstances for many during their imprisonment. Hannemann worked under the direction of Dr. Mengele, running a nursery and school for the Gypsy children, some who were then taken to be included in his experiments. Her goal remained the same throughout her time there, to protect and care for the children.
Escobar's well-written, somewhat fictionalized account of her life allows Helene Hannemann to be an inspiration to another generation of parents, a generation that may be in need of a lesson in sacrifice. Helene could have spared her life, could have walked away from the filth, disease and death that was Auschwitz, but instead she sacrificed each hour, each minute, for the children.
I highly recommend Auschwitz Lullaby not only for fans of historical fiction, but for all who have a heart for children, and those in this generation who may need to be reminded of the gift they are. Received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.