Unforgettable and deeply arresting, Let Me Go is a haunting memoir of World War II that “won’t let you go until you’ve finished reading the last page” (The Washington Post Book World). In 1941, in Berlin, Helga Schneider’s mother abandoned her along with her father and younger brother. Let Me Go recounts Helga’s final meeting with her ailing mother in a Vienna nursing home some sixty years after World War II, in which Helga confronts a nightmare: her mother’s lack of repentance about her past as a Nazi SS guard at concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where she was responsible for untold acts of torture. With spellbinding detail, Schneider recalls their conversation, evoking her own struggle between a daughter’s sense of obligation and the inescapable horror of her mother’s deeds.
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A powerful memoir in which Helga Schneider describes her relationship and final encounter with her mother, a former SS guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In 1998, Schneider is summoned to her 90 year-old mother's nursing home in Vienna. The last time she has seen her mother is 27 years earlier. Then, she had asked her to try on her treasured SS uniform, and wanted to give her several items of jewellery, the loot of holocaust victims, which Schneider rejected. Prior to that meeting, the last time she had seen her mother was in 1941, when she was four. Her mother abandoned her family in order to pursue her career with the SS.
During the conversation in Vienna, Schneider establishes that from the women's camp at Ravensbruck, her mother had moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau where she was in charge of a "correction" unit where brutal torture was administered. She was also involved with gas chambers and lethal injections. She was close to the highest echelons of Nazi power and knew all the details of Nazi atrocities, which she considered, and still considers, to be legitimate. Her mother continues to regard her former prisoners as the sub-human inferiors predicated by Nazi ideology. Without self-pity, Helga Schneider skillfully interweaves her family history into the interview with her mother, describing her difficult upbringing and the raising of her own child against the background of the reality of her mother's past.
"From the Hardcover edition.From the Back Cover:
Praise for Let Me Go
"For the duration of these pages, the old, mad Germany that we had thought dead comes to life again."-- J. M. Coetzee
"This stunning, profoundly evocative memoir is a bridge across time directly into the ongoing agonies of our confused, violent, searching hearts. A triumph of vivid art and emotional courage."-- Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of Eleanor Roosevelt, Volumes 1 and 2
"Schneider packs a tremendous emotional punch into this brief but tremendously cathartic memoir."-- Booklist (starred review)
"The simple certainty of Schneider's pain, strength and intricate emotions resounds well after this story ends."-- Publishers Weekly
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