On My Bookshelf: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

August 12, 2019

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Why I liked it: The Librarian of Auschwitz, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding.

Later, Dita’s time at Bergen-Belsen overlapped with the time period that Anne Frank was there. Both of Dita’s parents die, but she was reunited with her best friend and her far friend’s father after the war. She fell in love with and married Otto, one of the teachers in the camp. Reading this interview was a nice supplement to the book.
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Classroom application: There’s a variety of individuals, events, and topics, that the book touches on that might be of interest to students for further research, such as Dr. Mengele (Dita is terrified by their brief encounters) and Freddy Hirsch, a leader in the children’s camp. Despite his dedication to caring for the children of the camp, Hirsch was fearful of being rejected by the community because he was a homosexual. It is unclear in the book if he is killed or commits suicide at the time of a possible uprising in the camp. There is also a guard who falls in love with Jewish prisoner and returns for her and her mother after he escapes, prisoners who escape to spread the word about the concentration camps (their story is the plot line of The Auschwitz Escape), and the resistance movement in general.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Librarian of Auschwitz for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, based on a true story, tells a story of a part of the Holocaust I was previously unaware of. A children’s camp, complete with a school, existed for show for visits from the Red Cross and other international visitors. Within that school were eight hidden books, forbidden for Jews to possess, that Dita was responsible for distributing daily, caring for, and hiding. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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