Hitler’s Brothel is not just a fictional story about two young Polish girls separated by the tragic circumstances of World War 2. It is a tale interwoven with real historical events including some little known facts that had me constantly reaching for Google for clarification.
Yes, Auschwitz did have a brothel which was used as a reward for hardworking prisoners as an incentive to work even harder, and yes, the renowned fashion house Hugo Boss did make uniforms for the SS.
The story begins strongly in New Jersey USA in 2000, though it’s not until author Steve Matthews takes us back to Poland in 1940 that this reader became invested in sisters Ania and Danuta and the ghastly activities in which they became involved in order to survive on a daily basis.
This is no easy read thanks to the descriptive narrative. It is at times both bleak and brutal highlighting the ugliness of war and reinforcing that the Holocaust, that stain on humanity, must never be forgotten.
Although I have been a keen collector of Prisoner of War Diaries for many years I struggled with the details within this book. Was this because it is so much based on the female perspective?
Matthews states in his Notes, “ War is never over for those who experience it first hand. This story is for all the Anias who suffered in the concentration camps of WW2 – may your God bless you, and may you have finally found peace – whether you sleep beneath the ground or above it.” AMEN to that.
A copy of this book should be in every High School Library in Australia.
And another History Lesson:
Between 1971 and ‘76 I attended a High School in Sydney. Nothing special, nothing flash. One of the girls in the same form was dating a young apprentice plumber who drove a grey Vauxhall Velox. Another girl friend was dating his mate who drove a green Vauxhall Velox. Ugly old cars. That girl friend duck shovelled that fellow and started dating another of his mates, later marrying him and bearing two kiddies down the track.
Long story short: I started dating Mr Green Vauxhall and on weekends we would often have Vauxhall convoys, green and grey, and double date. Life in the Big Smoke, hey…..Another of my girlfriends was dating a bloke from our form who drove an ugly old Worsley. Is it any wonder I never had an interest in motor vehicles ?
The driver of the grey Vauxhall went on to marry a younger lass from the same high school and who also had a brother in my form. She had an older half sister who was my economics teacher in Year 12. ( It’s ok, I crushed economics). The teacher’s mother, who I met as an early teen and way before GDP and Fiscal Pie Charts, was the sister of my Dad’s best friend during World War 2 who was killed flying over the skies of Germany.
I knew little of Spud except for a couple of small black and white photos I found hidden in an old tobacco tin after my fathers death, though it explained my families connection to Spike, whom I later learned was Spud’s younger brother.
The author’s wife is the lass who used to be in the grey Vauxhall all those years ago. Like getting close to 50 years ago – gulp.
Mr Green Vauxhall? That’s another story.
I’ll go now and prepare a quick quiz for tomorrow to make sure you’ve all been listening ………