Book Title: Only My Life: A Survivor’s Story.
Author: Louis de Wijze.
Publication Date: 1997.
Rating (Out of Five Stars): 3.
I would first like to say that my heart goes out to this man, for he struggled in his time at Auschwitz and lost many of his friends and family. None of my critiques are meant to demean that fact as the fact that the Holocaust had to happen absolutely disgusts me. While Louis de Wijze is no longer with us, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to hear his story and it is because of people like him that those tragic events will be remembered.
That being said, there are both good things and bad things about this book so I will first cover some of the good first.
I thought his story was unique, as somebody who has read many Holocaust novels, you notice a lot of repeats and similarities in stories but his was genuinely unique. It is because of the connections that he made that he survived which makes his story unique because there will never be a second person who has an identical story.
I was surprised by some of the topics that he was willing to divulge, in particular, I was surprised about the scene with Aron in his bed. While I had assumed that things like this happened, I never would have thought that anybody would admit such a thing. Not because they don’t want to talk about the fact that they were aroused by somebody of the same gender touching their member or anything but out of respect for the dead. Especially during a time where people who even had pink triangle were not liberated and were simply sent to other camps (a fact that will forever haunt me).
Another aspect that I found to be fascinating was the discussion of cannibalism, as it never occurred to me that there was even a chance of that happening. While I understand the actual possibility, due to the amount of dead bodies that they’re surrounded by and the starvation that everybody was dealing with, it doesn’t surprise me that something like this would happen but it never occurred to me that it did and I was surprised when he even mentioned it.
In total, I find the story and the moments of realism. I enjoyed the fact that he did not try to censor the story to benefit anybody and was honest about what actually happened.
With all of the good comes some bad, while I loved the story, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing style as I felt like it lacked detail and was shortened significantly too much. During scenes that felt it needed to have more information, it was lacking and I did not like the fact that it revealed at the beginning that there would be an execution, especially since the execution was relatively irrelevant to the story.
As something that was showcased at the very beginning of the story, I thought it would be more relevant to the story but honestly, the execution was kind of buried into the rest of the story.