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Into the Tunnel: The Brief Life of Marion Samuel, 1931-1943 Hardcover – January 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Aly (Hitler's Beneficiaries) ingeniously reconstructs the life and death of a German-Jewish girl in this impressive piece of detective work. After being awarded the Marion Samuel Prize (established by the German Remembrance Foundation to commemorate the million Jewish children murdered during the Holocaust), Aly decided to learn as much as he could about Samuel and her family. With the help of ads and a speech, both published in German newspapers, he got in touch with individuals who knew the family, was able to find a few surviving relatives and pieced together a narrative from these scant sources. Soon after the family's business was ransacked in 1935, Samuel and her parents left their small town and moved to Berlin, where they lived until they were sent to Auschwitz. Illustrating civilian complicity in their fate, Aly notes a letter from the Samuels' former landlord, asking the authorities for rent that went unpaid after the Samuels were deported. Aly's account puts a face on the tragedy of the Holocaust. (Jan.)
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"Inspired… Aly mines a staggering amount of data to great effect."
The New York Times Book Review

"A book of unparalleled vividness and power."

"A slim but powerful record… Into the Tunnel pieces fragments of an ordinary life into an extraordinary fabric of remembrance. By restoring one girl's history, Götz Aly helps us bear witness to the unique fate of one innocent consumed by the Holocaust."

"Aly ingeniously reconstructs the life and death of a German-Jewish girl in this impressive piece of detective work… His account puts a face on the tragedy of the Holocaust."
Publishers Weekly

"A distinguished and affecting account."
Kirkus Reviews


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; First Edition edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805079270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805079272
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,568,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Marion Samuel was eleven years old when she arrived at Auschwitz in March of 1943, she was gassed to death the same day and her body burned in the crematorium. He ashes were thrown into a pit with hundreds of others and then covered over with soil. Their is no marker over where she died.

But who was this child and what was her crime that she should be treated so. She came from a lower middle class family from West Pomerania, near the Baltic Sea where the German-Polish border is today. At the age of six she was a witness to Kristallnacht and forbidden to go to the German Public School she had attended for the last three years. He family lost their business and both her parent's became "unskilled" factory workers. Marion was able to go to a "Jewish" school for two more years, before those were shut down. For the last years of her life she lived in a one room ground floor apartment off an alley. Since her parent's were away each day, she had to fill her time as best she could.

How did she view the world she lived in? Did she wonder why she and her parents were being treated the way they were? Did she have any understanding that she was being punished for a random act of birth? At least we know she was on the same train as her father (who lasted sixty one days in the camp) when she was "evacuated". Thankfully, the horrors at the end for this little girl were tempered by the comfort of a parent.

Hopefully, the people that ordered her death, and carried it out, suffered for what they did.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eclectician on June 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'll read this book over and over, I am sure - three times already in a day and a half. The first time I tried to focus on the historical scholarship and impeccable method, but was distracted by thoughts of "But why? Why? It doesn't make sense. They were Germans too."

Again I read it, and was arrested this time by the mechanistic system set up by the Nazis in what was really quite a short time. Every Jew's (and every other citizen's) address was on a card somewhere - every detail of their life was a part of a huge network by means of which all people of a certain category could be swept up with little or no warning with chilling efficiency, and sent away. Then their property was listed, valued, distributed to 'more deserving' citizens, and the state itself recovered every last drop of value from those it had discarded - down to retrieving their security deposits from the gas and electricity companies to be paid into general revenue. Those companies even printed for their own use forms for particularising the amount of the deposit, any unrecovered bills, and any remainder to be sent to the State.

Then, at the third attempt little Marion and her family took all my attention, despite my efforts to resist them, and I wept. This book is quite accessible to any general reader, and Marion Samuel, thanks to the efforts of Gotz Aly, could take her place beside Anne Frank in the lists of books for young folk to read, for slightly different reasons. Anne Frank shows us her own growth and maturity, as well as the effect on others of the horror outside their hiding place. Marion's story is not in her won words, but it shows starkly the power a state apparatus can gather to itself and use to crush parts of its population it takes a dislike to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the abiding insights that comes through in Goetz Ally's Into the Tunnel is just how efficient bureaucracies can be at transforming vibrantly alive human beings into impersonal statistics on official forms. In their extermination program, the Nazis, with an eerie fidelity to record-keeping, felt the need to document every detail of the lives they were destroying. That's why Aly is able to trace the unhappy fate of the beautiful little girl, Marion Samuel, who is the protagonist of this unhappy tale.

Such exercises are important; they help to keep memory alive. But Aly's book is more of a model of historical research than a sustained biography that captures who Marion Samuel was. This is as it must be. Nazi documentation records dates when the Samuel family loses its business, moves from one locale to another, and is rounded up for deportation to Auschwitz, but little else. There are few photographs left, and family memories on both Cilly's (Marion's mother) and Ernst's (her father) side have dimmed (or were outright obliterated by the Holocaust). So what we have in this book is a lot of data that leaves us with the sinking awareness that the 12-year old Marion simply disappeared in a wide ocean of bureaucratic files and forms even before she was murdered and incinerated at Auschwitz.

Still, we get glimpses of her, and those glimpses are all the more poignant for being so incomplete. One of her schoolmates recalls that in 1938, a full five years before her murder, an 8-year old Marion was already feeling the burden of the Nazi horror. She remembers (p. 82) that at one point a near-hysterical Marion blurted out her fear that Jews were disappearing into an ominous tunnel.
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