Let Me Go by Helga Schneider

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The extraordinary memoir, praised across Europe, of a daughter's final encounter with her mother, a former SS guard at Auschwitz.

In 1941, in Berlin, Helga Schneider's mother abandoned her, her younger brother, and her father. Thirty years later-- when she saw her mother again for the first time-- Schneider discovered the shocking reason: Her mother had joined the Nazi SS and had become a guard in concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrück, where she was in charge of a "correction" unit and responsible for untold acts of torture.

Nearly three more decades would pass before their second and final reunion, an emotional encounter at a Vienna nursing home, where her mother, then eighty-seven and unrepentant about her past, was ailing. Let Me Go is an extraordinary account of that meeting. Their conversation-- which Schneider recounts in spellbinding detail-- triggers childhood memories, and she weaves these into her account, powerfully evoking the misery of Nazi and postwar Berlin. Yet it is her internal struggle-- a daughter's sense of obligation colliding with the inescapable horror of what her mother has done-- that will stay with readers long after the book has ended.

About Helga Schneider

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Helga Schneider was born in 1937 in Steinberg, now Poland, and spent her childhood in Berlin. She has been a freelance writer for many years in Bologna, Italy.
Published May 26, 2009 by Walker Books. 180 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War, Education & Reference, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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“That was how Himmler’s blackshirts were, including women like herself, the SS in skirts.” Their final encounter includes moments of tenderness and pity on Schneider’s part—she is still, reluctantly, helplessly, a daughter, and that matters—but they are swamped by the utter venality of her mother...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this searing and provocative memoir, Schneider visits her mother in a retirement home in Vienna after a long separation, broken only once in 57 years.

Dec 06 2004 | Read Full Review of Let Me Go

BC Books

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Aesthetically I did not find this book as pleasing as his earlier books and so if readers are interested in tackling some of Ishiguro’s books I would recommend The Remains of the Day or An Artist of the Floating World first since I believe those two to be his best works.

Jun 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Let Me Go

BC Books

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In this novel, it is not that he does not succeed in developing a real and authentic character, it is perhaps the character herself who is not as insightful as his leading narrators in the past.

Jun 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Let Me Go

AV Club

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Schneider's mother assisted the infamous Nazi doctors in their medical experiments—amputating limbs and creating septic conditions in the wounds so that the progress of infection could be observed.

Aug 09 2004 | Read Full Review of Let Me Go

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