Bonfire Of Berlin – Helga Schneider
Abandoned by her mother, who left to pursue a career as a camp guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau, loathed by her step-mother, cooped up in a cellar, starved, parched, lonely amidst the fetid crush of her neighbours, Helga Schneider endured the horrors of wartime Berlin. The Bonfire of Berlin is a searing account of her survival. The grinding misery of hunger, combined with the terror of air-raids, the absence of fresh water and the constant threat of death and disease served not to unite the tenants and neighbours of her apartment block but rather to intensify the minor irritations of communal life into flashpoints of rage and violence. And with Russian victory the survivors could not look forward a return to peacetime but rather to pillage and rape. It was only gradually that Schneider’s life returned to some kind of normality, as her beloved father returned from the front, carrying his own scars of the war. This shocking book evokes the reality of life in a wartime city in all its brutality and deprivation, while retaining a kernel of hope that while life remains not all is lost.