- Hardcover: 182 pages
- Publisher: P A C T Pub (September 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0935553231
- ISBN-13: 978-0935553239
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,648,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust Hardcover – September 1, 1997
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As a memoir, _At the Mercy of Strangers_ alternates between two voices: that of the young German Jewish adolescent hiding from Nazi persecution (the book includes Loebl's actual diary that she kept while moving from place to place in Brussels) and the retrospective voice of Suzanne Loebl, accomplished art critic, children's book author, and science writer, who survived the war and moved to the U.S. in 1946. These two voices are so beautifully counterposed it is easy to see the resonances of each in the other.
Her hiding places risky, the identity papers her family purchased for her detectably false, often hungry, always always alone, Loebl's diary recounts her daily struggle to find employment as a maid or governess (her cover from Nazi detection) and the daily reality of working for employers who, realizing she was Jewish, often took advantage of her, sometimes fired her at whim, and excluded her from even the most basic human kindnesses. Buffeted about in war-torn Brussels, Loebl's interrupted education, the disappearance of Jewish family, friends, teachers, resistance fighters, her constant hunger (physical, emotional, and intellectual) do not fundamentally dampen her spirit, which is so large it spills beyond the margins of every page.
This book is so accomplished it is difficult to categorize; it includes so much World War II history woven in and out of both narrative voices it should be required reading for college students studying this historical period. As a piece of Holocaust literature, this book illustrates the complicated ways that the story of one highly intelligent, articulate German Jewish adolescent is, itself, a political one. (In the tradition of New German Cinema, I can see this book rewritten as a screenplay depicting the impact of World War II on the personal life of one individual.) Without a doubt, _At the Mercy of Strangers_ is also the finest autobiography this reviewer has ever read.