Top positive review
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An interesting and inspiring account of the life of a good man
on 30 October 2006
The book begins with Otto's early life in a wealthy liberal Jewish family in Franfurt and continues through a period working for Macy's department store in New York before the First World War, his service in the German army, the post WW1 decline in the family's fortune, his marriage and the eventual move to Holland to escape the rise of Nazism, culminating in the period in hiding and eventual arrest.
The time Otto spent in Auschwitz is particularly interesting and moving. He cheated death narrowly on more than one occasion. Being over 50, he should have been gassed on arrival at Auschwitz but his tall, slim, figure and upright bearing saved him.
The author makes a credible case that the betrayer of the Frank family was one Tonny Ahlers, a Dutch Nazi. Her thesis that Ahlers also blackmailed Otto post war, and up to Otto's death in 1980, over the supplies which Otto's company made to the Wehrmacht prior to the period in hiding, is less compelling, especially since Ahlers did denounce Otto to the post war authorities. Ahlers's testimony was disregarded as he had already been jailed for his war-time activities and was seen as an unreliable witness.
The account of the struggle to publish Anne's diary and the difficulty of editing and translating into foreign language editions which preserved the tone of the original take up a lot of the later chapters and are not without interest but are perhaps treated at too great a length.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has read Anne Frank's diary and would like to learn more about the events that the Frank family lived through.