Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (2004, Hardcover)

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For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life. Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Usis a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.

Product Identifiers

Key Details
AuthorJenna Blum
Number Of Pages496 pages
Publication Date2004-04-05
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Additional Details
Copyright Date2004

Weight27.3 Oz
Height1.2 In.
Width6 In.
Length9 In.

Target Audience

Classification Method
LC Classification NumberPS3602.L863T47 2004
Dewey Decimal813/.54
Dewey Edition22

ADVANCE PRAISE FORTHOSE WHO SAVE US "In her compelling first novel, Jenna Blum forces a moral re-evaluation on her characters and on the reader. Cagily plotted between past and present, guilt and innocence, Those Who Save Us is a moving, unsentimental page turner." ALISON LESLIE GOLD, a u t h o r o f F I E T ' S VASE and ANNEFRANK REMEMBERED ( w i t h M I E P G I E S )

Blum, who worked for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, takes a direct, unsentimental look at the Holocaust in her first novel. The narrative alternates between the present-day story of Trudy, a history professor at a Minneapolis university collecting oral histories of WWII survivors (both German and Jewish), and that of her aged but once beautiful German mother, Anna, who left her country when she married an American soldier. Interspersed with Trudy's interviews with German immigrants, many of whom reveal unabashed anti-Semitism, Anna's story flashes back to her hometown of Weimar. As Nazi anti-Jewish edicts intensify in the 1930s, Anna hides her love affair with a Jewish doctor, Max Stern. When Max is interned at nearby Buchenwald and Anna's father dies, Anna, carrying Max's child, goes to live with a baker who smuggles bread to prisoners at the camp. Anna assists with the smuggling after Trudy's birth until the baker is caught and executed. Then Anna catches the eye of the Obersturmführer, a high-ranking Nazi officer at Buchenwald, who suspects her of also supplying the inmates with bread. He coerces her into a torrid, abusive affair, in which she remains complicit to ensure her survival and that of her baby daughter. Blum paints a subtle, nuanced portrait of the Obersturmführer, complicating his sordid cruelty with more delicate facets of his personality. Ultimately, present and past overlap with a shocking yet believable coincidence. Blum's spare imagery is nightmarish and intimate, imbuing familiar panoramas of Nazi atrocity with stark new power. This is a poised, hair-raising debut.

PRAISE FOR THOSE WHO SAVE US "Jenna Blum's accomplished first novel, Those Who Save Us, is both vast and intimate in its reach . . . Utterly believable . . .An absorbing tale of two women's struggles with the burdens and responsibilities of remembrance."-THE BOSTON GLOBE "The book's power . . . [lies] in examining the emotional and moral gray area between heroism and collaboration . . .Those Who Save Us bursts with provocative questions about the ambiguous possibilities of culpability."-SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

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