Thomas Buergenthal was blessed to be born to attentive, educated, insightful parents who fled Germany in the 1930s before Hitler came to power. Buergenthal was born in Czechoslovakia on May 11, 1934, and he and his parents were on the running, fleeing Nazis, from the time Buergenthal was only 6 years old. Yet, while on the run, his mother went to see a psychic who deemed that Thomas was a lucky child. That simple sentence sustained his mother throughout all of the years of the war, even after the family entered the concentration camp.
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A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy is Buergenthal’s memoir of that dark time that made up the majority of his childhood. The passage of time has allowed him to mute some of his feelings. Now, he is able to tell events as he remembers them, and the reader is able to feel his own emotion from what is written.
Thomas was just 10 years old when he and his family went to Auschwitz briefly in August, 1944 before traveling on to Birkenau. From there, Thomas was eventually shuffled to many other camps. While he originally entered Auschwitz with his father, they were soon separated.
When the psychic said that Thomas was a lucky child, she was not kidding. There were so many times in his life when he should have or was almost killed and survived simply due to luck or cunning or help from others. The majority of children never made it very long in a concentration camp. Thomas not only managed to survive endless selections and hospital stays, but he also managed to survive until liberation.
Even more amazing is the fact that one of his parents survived and that they were eventually reunited. Considering the time, when there were no computers, no Internet, or any other easy means of tracking survivors, they’re reuniting is truly miraculous.
This is an inspiring story and an insightful one. Thomas Buergenthal went on to live a very productive life as an international and human rights lawyer. Undoubtedly, his childhood helped shape this future.
This is an excellent read, even though Buergenthal ends with a sobering message that human atrocities, unfortunately, did not end with the Nazis but go on today all over the world.
5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.