Otto Rosenberg is 9 and living in Berlin, poor but happy, when his family are first detained. All around them, Sinti and Roma families are being torn from their homes by Nazis , leaving behind schools, jobs, friends, and businesses to live in forced encampments outside the city. One by one, families are broken up, adults and children disappear or are ‘sent East’.
Otto arrives in Auschwitz aged 15 and is later transferred to Buechenwald and Bergen- Belsen. He works, scrounges food whenever he can, witnesses and suffers horrific violence and is driven close to death by illness more than once. Unbelievably, he also joins an armed revolt of prisoners who, facing the SS and certain death, refuse to back down. Somehow, through luck, sheer human will to live, or both, he survives.
The stories of Sinti and Roma suffering in Nazi Germany are all too often lost or untold. In this haunting account, Otto shares his story with a remarkable simplicity. Deeply moving,
A Gypsy in Auschwitz is the incredible story of how a young Sinti boy miraculously survived the unimaginable darkness of the Holocaust.
I find is always hard to review a book about survivors of the holocaust or any genocide , I can’t exactly say I enjoyed reading or it was a delight, but rather I believe it’s my duty to educate myself, I am a believer of ‘those who don’t know their history’ (although scarily enough as humans despite knowing our past we seem to be determined to keep causing the same awful atrocities on one another, for the sake of what -money, power, status!)
This autobiography I found beautiful to read, beautiful because their is beauty in strength, to go through what Otto did, to lose everyone he lost and still fight for a better world, I don’t think anything in humanity can be more beautiful than to go through such pain and still want to fight for a better world.
I liked the fact we learnt all about Ottos family (including extended) his childhood and early memories, it’s one of the few times I smiled and wasn’t crying. This isn’t an easy read, I wasn’t expecting it to be, but it also wasn’t as harrowing as some I have read, not that Otto or his family didn’t go through the worst atrocities, but more that Otto does not go into great depth, figures or painful detail. It’s like Otto is talking to you, wants you to understand what he went through and others like him. I liked the fact it felt like a friend teaching you. I’m so glad Ottos daughter has ensured his life and experiences have been shared with the world.
Thanks to Random Things Tours , Octopus books, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
About the author
Otto Rosenberg was born in East Prussia in 1927 and grew up in Berlin. He was 9 when he was sent to the Roma and Sinti camp in Marzahn, ahead of the 1936 Olympic Games, and 15 when he was sent to Auschwitz.
He was then detained in Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps before being freed in 1945. In later years, Rosenberg was the chairman of the Regional Association of German Sinti and Romanies Berlin-Brandenburg and fathered seven children. He passed away in 2001.
Otto’s daughter, Petra Rosenberg, is the current Director of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma Berlin-Brandenburg.