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A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy [Paperback]

Thomas Buergenthal
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

14 Jan 2010
At the age of ten Thomas Buergenthal arrived at Auschwitz after surviving the Ghetto of Kielce and two labour camps, and was soon separated from his parents. Using his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck, he managed to survive until he was liberated from Sachsenhausen in 1945. After experiencing the turmoil of Europe's post-war years - from the Battle of Berlin, to a Jewish orphanage in Poland - Buergenthal went to America in the 1950s at the age of seventeen. He eventually became one of the world's leading experts on international law and human rights. His story of survival and his determination to use law and justice to prevent further genocide is an epic and inspirational journey through 20th Century history. His book is both a special historical document and a great literary achievement, comparable only to Primo Levi's masterpieces.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (14 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846681855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846681851
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"a very life-affirming narrative...positive and uplifting" --New Books Mag

"a book that extends the boundaries of the genre..." --Stephen J. Mckinney

Book Description

'An understated and quietly powerful memoir ... A Lucky Child is not one to miss' - Libby Purves, Radio 4 Midweek

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed: A Lucky Child 22 Feb 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This amazing and inspiring book is a fine example of choosing one's moment. Whereas some Holocaust survivors wrote their accounts shortly after their ordeal, Thomas Buergenthal waited more than 60 years after the passage of time had blunted his anger and the horrors he had witnessed and experienced. The result is a balanced and enthralling account of a child using all his means to surive the Holocaust.

Thomas, together with his parents, had been on the run from the Nazis since the age of four. He was interned in Auschwitz at the age of 10. During those years he experienced things that no human being should have to experience and especially not a child.

Through his intelligence and resourcefulness, Thomas' father Mundek kept the family together; he shrewdly anticipated when they should flee and how they could best survive. Later during his internment Thomas, was also intelligent and resourceful in his ongoing quest for survival.

In Auschwitz, Thomas' father learned from a friend that a job for Thomas could provide some protection for him. Thomas then became an errand boy, delivering messages and packages for those running the camp. In this way he often happened upon useful information and could go to many places around the camp where others could not.

Yet, Thomas was a lucky child. Many times he missed the dreaded selections either for the gas chamber or becoming one of Dr. Mengele's objects for experimentation. There were also acts of great kindness to him from others, especially from a Norwegian internee .

A particularly moving moment is when he recalls how he briefly saw his mother in the womens' camp and how he repeated their exchange and the picture of her over and over in his mind in the days to come.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant life 29 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is such a brilliant book, I had immediately afterwards to get Odd Nansen's epitome "Day after Day" (a second hand copy was available on the internet) which mentioned his meeting at the camp "hospital" with "Tommy". How the child ever escaped the Nazis death proposals at Aushwitz, I'll never grasp - but he did and became an international lawyer, to boot! It is a book that is simple to read (as no lawyer's Brief is) and is beautifully set up: I will refrain explaining his narrative to avoid the sorrow that the book involves: suffice it to say that his terrible and deadly experience stood him wonderfully well in his eventual profession - it is a pity that most if not all other Judges do not have that colour (black through all to white) life left him with.
Do read it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book. 15 Mar 2009
Unlike Primo Levi's brilliant book, 'If This Is A Man', which was written through the eyes of an adult, this is a fascinating book written through a child's eyes, but the simplicity of his narrative brings you closer to the reality of The Holocaust than many adults who went through the same experience. There are many sad moments in the book, but also many times when you want to smile or jump with joy along with Thomas as he recalls such gems as being a 'soldier' in the Polish army, firing the only round in a rusty pistol and being re-united with his dear 'Mutti'. Also, he reveals the heroism of many around him and the love they gave to him which helped him through his terrible ordeal. At times, I shed a few tears for them as well as for Thomas. One of the things I found most poignent about this book were the numerous photographs that helped me relate to Thomas and his family and friends. I will be visiting Aushwitz/Birkenhau (for the second time) in May 2009 and I will take the book with me as a tribute to Thomas and for his many relatives and friends who were not 'A Lucky Child'. The title is a paradox, but an understandable one when you have read this brilliant book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about this awful moment in the history of mankind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real child hero 24 May 2010
The title of this book will become clearer the more that you read, at every turn of his holocaust experience Thomas manages to survive when it seems almost impossible. You will question how much this was down to his own initative and how much is down to pure luck.
Thomas manages to tell his story with two voices, that of the child he was and that of the adult he now is looking back on what was really going on.
As with any Holocaust biography, there are many scenes that are horrific, but this just makes it all the more important that these stories are heard.
You will cry and you will cheer as you experience this boys amazing fight for survival.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely great book 13 Feb 2009
A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy
Great book. Very moving. Could not put the book down until I read the last page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read 26 April 2010
This book is amazing -- an essential read. Thomas Buergenthal has not let hindsight colour his picture of the past, but tells his story with insight and detachment. It is also exceptionally well-written; the story flies by. Will suit an adult or child reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational read 2 Mar 2010
Never before in my 53 years have I started to read a book and not been able to put it down until I finished it - but this book changed that. It was a spontaneous purchase and I started reading Thomas Buergenthal's memoirs on a Saturday morning, only intending to read the first chapter or two. Instead, I put the book down in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The factual, objective and easy to read style of Buergenthal's writing belies the horrors that he witnessed and lived through. This is a true story - and one that no novelist could make up. The way that this man used his experiences as a foundation for his future success is an inspiration to the entire human race.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars not bad
Was an ok book, thought was going to be loads more about aushwitz etc, still a good read and would recommend .
Published 1 month ago by Rebecca Notman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lucky Child
Thomas Buergenthal is 10 years old when war breaks out under the Nazi rulers of Germany, being of Jewish parentage he and his family are sent to the ghetto of Kielce where violence... Read more
Published 6 months ago by T. J. Day
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Very informative and a revealing account. Interesting reading it from the author's memories of his childhood . A different perspective. Worth a read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by sharon moore
5.0 out of 5 stars First hand childhood account
This account must be read. I urge you to read this book because it speaks about dealing with the holocaust, forgiveness & moving on with life by doing meaningful work with one's... Read more
Published 10 months ago by JoAdores
5.0 out of 5 stars Very lucky indeed
Very harrowing read, it is really hard to contemplate that this really happened, how can fellow human beings be so cruel and evil. Read more
Published 13 months ago by richard stanfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of a lucky Child
Excellent book -he was a lucky child to survive the Holocaust. I would have loved to have met his father as he had a big role in shaping Thomas. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Deirdre Hanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Survival, but only just
All I would like to say is this holocaust book can't be put down till finished - see for yourselves
Published 16 months ago by Fenwick Stafford
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lucky Child
.A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy

Absolutely gripping memoir, could not put the book down after the first chapter. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful true account by a boy who survived against the odds
This is a remarkable story, a real page turner & cannot be faulted because it is a true account of the holocaust through the eyes of a young boy. Read more
Published on 20 Feb 2012 by Nadia
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
A short but powerful account of the author's childhood in Auschwitz, his time in a Polish ghetto beforehand, and subsequent life. Read more
Published on 29 Jan 2012 by James from Bath
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