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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed: A Lucky Child, 22 Feb 2009
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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. Even though she had lost her hair she was of course beautiful to him.

Thomas survived the death March from Auschwitz, enduring extreme cold and hunger and losing some toes to frostbite.

After the liberation and spending some time as a mascot for Polish soldiers, including his own tailor made uniform, Thomas was taken to a Jewish orphanage near Warsaw by one of the liberating Polish soldiers who was himself Jewish. Thomas spent a year there until his mother found him. During this time the children received a great deal of warmth, kindness and even education. It was a halfway house between what many had experienced during the Holocaust and to adjust them to a more normal existence.

After Thomas returned to Germany his mother employed a teacher to tutor him so that he could attend school. He had of course had virtually no formal education. This teacher was astonished that although Thomas had very little academic knowledge his level of maturity was way beyond his years. Hardly surprising.

This book is special in that it is an account of a child's experiences during the most terrible of times and yet even in that horrible place where Thomas was forced to live, there were still moments of childish pleasure and acts of great courage by him and others.

Much later Thomas turned to international law and human rights. He is now a judge at the International Court of Justice it would appear that he has created a most positive life.

Do read this book, one can't help but be left with a feeling that in spite of the ugliness to which people can be subjected, the goodness of the human spirit will prevail.
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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
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Mr. N. B. Hodson "Bruce Hodson" (Northants, UK) - See all my reviews
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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
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H. NORTH - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational read, 2 Mar 2010
By 
Alan Wingrove (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy (Paperback)
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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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
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J. Clare (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Could I have survived under the same circumstances?, 17 April 2009
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Having seen a review in the media in early 2009, I requested that my local library obtain a copy for me to read.
It is surely a facinating book of how a young Jewish boy survived the terrible happenings in Germany and Poland in the second world war.
I myself, a non Jew, living in England at that time wonder if I could have survived if I had been in a similar situation, I somehow very much doubt it. The story of Thomas at that time when the world semed to go mad shows the fortitude he was able achieve and come out at the end with a strong character that he put to good use in his adult life in helping other less fortunate people.
I would love to have been able to read Odd Nansens books Day by day and Tommy but I fear that they are now out of print
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unbreakable, 4 Feb 2009
By 
Frances S. Andrews (Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This is a fairly short very easily read little book which packs a large punch! I read this in one sitting,couldn't put it down.The writer's understanding and compassion amazed me.Please try this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of the Human Spirit, 5 Oct 2009
How this young boy had the mental strength to overcome the atrocities he was faced with, I'll never know. Thomas writes of his experience in the various concentration camps without bitterness or hatred. I have such admiration for this man and his mental and physical strength. The only thing is I would have loved to have known a little bit more about his adult and family life i.e. where he met his wife and what age his mother lived to. Truly moving book.
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A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy
A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal (Paperback - 14 Jan 2010)
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