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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars war child
Helga Schneider's powerful and moving memoir tells of her struggle to survive her terrifying childhood in wartime and post-war Berlin after her mother abandons her to pursue a career as a camp guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her father remarries but goes to fight on the frontlines, leaving Heidi to be bought up by her stepmother who hated little Heidi and did nothing to ease...
Published on 28 Feb. 2008 by kehs

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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
As someone doing research in this area I was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately I couldn't get beyond the first few chapters. It may be a powerful story but the quality of the writing was very poor, and as this is important to me I couldn't bare to see it through. The writing was self indulgent and cliched and it would have been a good idea for the author...
Published on 4 Nov. 2009 by Solomon


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars war child, 28 Feb. 2008
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
Helga Schneider's powerful and moving memoir tells of her struggle to survive her terrifying childhood in wartime and post-war Berlin after her mother abandons her to pursue a career as a camp guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her father remarries but goes to fight on the frontlines, leaving Heidi to be bought up by her stepmother who hated little Heidi and did nothing to ease her fears and unhappiness. The Bonfire of Berlin is a heart wrenching account of her traumatic wartime experiences. It is hard hitting and slams home just how atrocious the conditions were for those that lived through this horrific time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 1 Dec. 2008
By 
A. Ginman (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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An amazing book that leaves me wanting to know more about Helga. She went through so much trauma in her childhood and you wonder how it has affected her in later life. What is she like as an adult? Is her younger brother still horrible?

A horrifying and frightening read and testament to the durability and the frailty of the human spirit. In a way the most frightening scenes were those in the children's homes that would not have looked out of place in a Dickens' novel. As a parent of a young child I just hope that fewer and fewer people have grow up like Helga did.

A good read that never lets you forget that this is her own life that she was writing about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival Story, 14 Sept. 2010
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
I think this is the first book I've read about World War II which is told from the perspective of a German Christian and this is the first time I have read anything about the devastation of Berlin and the Russian invasion. Helga Schneider recalls her childhood in Germany from 1941 to 1947, warts and all - her mother abandons her and her younger brother to devote herself to the Nazi cause, becoming a guard at Auschwitz. Helga's father remarries and when he is away at the front, the stepmother shows her true archetypal evil nature and Helga is sent off to a variety of institutions whilst her brother Peter is mollycoddled and brought up to be a "proper" German complete with adoration of the Fuhrer.

At times this autobiography is in danger of straying into misery-memoir territory but it is saved by keenly observed accounts of time spent in the cramped, fetid air raid shelters, of the ordinary Berliners' frustrations with the Nazis' actions, of their intense terror of the SS and how good folk did nothing in striving for self-preservation. At one stage Helga meets Hitler face to face in his bunker and the tension is palpable. Likewise the arrival of Russian troops propagates terror amongst the population as the rumour mill goes overboard with tales of brutality.

This is a short, accessible read, just over 200 pages - not the best written admittedly but it has given me an insight into the plight of ordinary Berliners during and after the war. I gather that the author attempted reconciliation with her mother in the 1970s but the happy ending was not to be - there is another book Let Me Go which details her mother's story and her lack of remorse for her SS activities.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book that tells a story of the side that is rarely heard, 28 Oct. 2006
By 
RM Mardenborough (Exeter, UK) - See all my reviews
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I loved this book. It was a very easy read but was very educational at the same time. I thought that it was funny how eventhough most people know the story of the second world war, I was gripped to the end to find out what would happen. I thought that it was very touching and unbelieveable how people can come through such terror and misery. It is a story that tells a side that is rarely heard and the goodness of many of the German people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gripping book by Helga Schneider, 28 July 2011
By 
Snodge (Sydney Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
The Bonfire of Berlin follows young Helga's life following her mother's desertion of Helga and her younger brother to further her career in the SS as a guard at Auschwitz- Berkenau. Helga's previous book "Let Me Go" which deals with Helga's second and last meeting with her mother in adult life, gave us a few snippets of memories of her traumatic childhood raised by her stepmother in the worst days of WW2 in Berlin. The Bonfire of Berlin fills out that story and what a gripping story it is.

There are a lot of survivor memoirs out there. Some are just amazing stories and some are amazing stories told by gifted writers. Helga is definitely the later. Her ability to take you right into the events with an economy of words is truly impressive. Like Let Me Go, and German Boy by Wolfgang E Samuel, The Bonfire of Berlin just grabs you and doesn't let you go. I couldn't put it down.
Other of the special aspects of this book relates to Helga's experiences in a home for disabled children and then a home for disturbed children and later a stint staying in Hitler's bunker being fed up and rested. This is a completely heartwrenching, fascinating and totally gripping story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartache, 4 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
This is a harrowing account of deprivation during the war, how families survived is a miracle.The girl writing the account had the added pain of having a feckless mother and a rather tyranical step-mother. It's a good thing that she derived some pleasure from her suurroundings when it was possible to get out of the shelters.!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A most moving story of an unexpected victim of the war, 30 Dec. 2009
By 
K. O'Connor (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
This is a most honest and moving story of a little girl abandoned by her fanatical Nazi mother. She too was a victim of the war. A most moving and disturbing tale. A must read for anyone interested in seeing what life was like inside Germany during the war.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 31 July 2013
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This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
It is an interesting and sometimes upsetting book, especially when you take time to realise just how bad it was for the people in the book. You just can't comprehend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story., 10 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (Paperback)
What a story ,you fell as if you are there being a witness to what takes place. Read this then read the second part of the story in the book "Let Me Go".
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lost childhood in wartime Berlin., 31 Jan. 2015
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I would recommend this book to anyone. A child's account of life in wartime Berlin; fantastic.
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The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany
The Bonfire Of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany by Helga Schneider (Paperback - 2 Feb. 2006)
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