Where there is family, there is hope
In 1939, Gustav Kleinmann, a Jewish upholster from Vienna, and his sixteen-year-old son Fritz are arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Germany. Imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp, they miraculously survive the Nazis’ murderous brutality.
Then Gustav learns he is being sent to Auschwitz—and certain death.
For Fritz, letting his father go is unthinkable. Desperate to remain together, Fritz makes an incredible choice: he insists he must go too. To the Nazis, one death camp is the same as another, and so the boy is allowed to follow.
Throughout the six years of horror they witness and immeasurable suffering they endure as victims of the camps, one constant keeps them alive: their love and hope for the future.
Based on the secret diary that Gustav kept as well as meticulous archival research and interviews with members of the Kleinmann family, including Fritz’s younger brother Kurt, sent to the United States at age eleven to escape the war, The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz is Gustav and Fritz’s story—an extraordinary account of courage, loyalty, survival, and love that is unforgettable.
As a book about the Holocaust - a true story, no less - this is a deep, dark read. But it is also beautifully written, graceful, and compelling.
The story of the Kleinmann family is incredible and important. It's a story of just how strong love can be even in the absolute worst moments in history.
This was a slow read for me because it was absolutely packed with information that was hard to process. But, as I said before, it's written very well. So it's easy to come back to. I just needed to take a lot of breaks to read some easier books as well.
This book makes you feel the full range of emotions, and there were definitely moments where I had to pause from crying.
I would recommend this book, but definitely have some lighter options on the side if you need to take breaks.
"Flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood, soul of her soul, gone from her. Kurt was her hope; he would have a new beginning in an altogether new world. Perhaps he would return one day, and she would see a new person in his place, shaped by a life that was wholly strange to her."
"The mind of a Nazi was beyond fathoming, let alone reasoning."
"In the end, the Kleinmann family had not only survived but prospered; through courage, love, solidarity, and blind luck, they outlasted the people who had tried to destroy them. They and their descendants spread and multiplied, perpetuating through the generations the love and unity that had helped them through the darkest of times. They took their past with them, understanding that the living must gather the memories of the dead and carry them into the safety of the future."