my challenges

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wildflowers of Terezin

Wildflowers of Terezin, by Robert Elmer.

The tale of how the Danish people took action to protect and save their Jewish countrymen from Hitler's madness in the face of real personal danger is an epic and important story that needs to be told.  Unfortunately, this was not the book to tell that story.
This book follows the experiences of a middle-aged Lutheran pastor and the young Jewish nurse who saves him from the Nazis and who in turn attempts to save her.  It gives us a glimpse of what things were like in Denmark during the Nazi occupation, and a glimpse of the Danes heroic efforts, but ultimately focuses a little too completely on the insular lives of the two main characters, to the detriment of the bigger story.  We see how the two protagonists take actions to try to save the Danish Jews who they have contact with, and their story is quite intriguing and compelling, I must say.  However, I came to this book knowing that the Danes did something epic and amazing, but not knowing quite how they did it or how they managed to succeed, and after reading this book, I still do not know the answers to those questions.  In other words, this book to my mind could have been placed in virtually any other European country during the war and occupation years, and other than the references to places within Denmark you could not specifically distinguish this book from the story of any other gentile who tried to stand up to the Nazi atrocities.  For that reason this book was a disappointment to me.  Viewed as a snapshot of the broader events, a tale of the lives of the protagonists only, it is an interesting book; but you will not learn much about the big picture of what the Danes achieved by reading this book.  I still recommend this book, but it will be enjoyed more by those simply interested in the love story between the protagonists than by someone reading it as an example of historical fiction.  3 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your good, honest review. I think I'd prefer something Dane-specific too, so I could learn more.

    Thanks for including your review in the European Reading Challenge! I think this is the first Danish book.