Review: Questions I am asked about the Holocaust by Hédi Fried

Blurb: There are no stupid questions, nor any forbidden ones, but there are some questions that have no answer. Hédi Fried was nineteen when the Nazis snatched her family from their home in Eastern Europe and transported to Auschwitz, where her parents were murdered and she and her sister were forced into hard labour until the end of the war. Now ninety-four, she has spent her life educating young people about the Holocaust and answering their questions about one of the darkest periods in human history. Questions like, ‘how was it to live in the camps?’, ‘why did Hitler hate the Jews?’ and ‘can you forgive?’. With sensitivity and complete candour, Fried answers these questions and more in this deeply human book that urges us never to forget and never to repeat.

Title: Questions I am asked about the Holocaust

Author: Hédi Fried

Translator: Alice E. Olsson

Publisher: Scribe

Genre: Non-Fiction, Historical, Essays, Memoir

Review:

After being taken captive by the Nazis at age nineteen, Hédi Fried was resigned to life in several work camps, including Auschwitz. When the war ended and she was liberated, she pondered why, of everyone, she had been spared. Committing her life to educating others about her times in the camps became her purpose and a way for her to honour those who couldn’t tell their own stories.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book but found myself not able to put it down. Reading about anyone’s experiences during Nazi’s days of power is heart breaking and captivating in the same measure. The stories of survivors paint a picture for what our imaginations simply cannot comprehend. What particularly stood out about this book was the structure – each chapter is headed by a question that Fried has been asked during her days telling her story at schools and other events. The topics cover a wide range of things but answer questions that I didn’t even know I had, from ‘what languages were spoken in Auschwitz?’ to ‘did you dream at night?’, as well as the more profound, ‘are you able to forgive?’ and ‘were you afraid of death?’. I also really appreciated the premise of this book being that there are no stupid questions when it comes to this period of history, as questions are what educates future generations about the horrors that people suffered in the hope that it won’t happen again. The writing style is simple but open, honest and vulnerable as no detail is spared. Written with an eloquence of someone who has recounted these memories so many times before, we must make use of the written stories of survivors as they will not always be around to tell them.

I cannot fault this book in the slightest. I couldn’t give it anything other than 5 stars. From the honest and vulnerable way that Fried speaks of her experiences to the range of questions, this is a work of great heart that should be read by all. This is an absolute must read for everyone, regardless of age or ethnicity, religious beliefs or interest in world history – we can all learn about the importance of tolerance and standing up for the right thing from this book.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough. This is a period of history that should never be forgotten and if you know a lot about it, or if you don’t, this book is sure to provide you with the reminder that it should never be repeated.

Rating: 5/5

Recommend?: Yes, I can’t recommend it enough.


Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

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