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city of shadows
on 9 May 2011
This woman, Ariana Franklin, is a vicious hypocrite.
The book isn't great, for a start. Hitler posing for snapshots on the day he became Chancellor as if he had nothing better to do? I ask you! And we are asked to believe that Polish countrymen would know or care that King Henry I of England died after a surfeit of lampreys? The so-called twist at the end is the most contrived and unlikely coincidence I have ever seen outside of Victorian fiction.
There are a lot of ties left unanswered in the plot. I got the impression, therefore, the book was written hurriedly in order to meet a publisher's deadline or substantially rewritten just before publication.
Who does this woman think she is, demonizing the Poles? Does she not realise that for one thousand years Poland was the ONLY nation in Western Christendom which not merely tolerated Jews but permitted them equal rights and citizenship? One early Polish King, Boleslaw the Pious, even faced excommunication for his humanity to his Hebrew subjects. Poland was even known among Jews and Poles alike as Europe's "Paradise for Jews". Has this woman not heard of Maximilian Kolbe and Irina Sandler - just two of many Poles who risked or even gave their lives sheltering Jews in occupied Poland?
This woman clearly loathes the fact that Jews have been demonized for centuries, and yet she thinks it's absolutely acceptable to demonize other races! Demonizing an entire race, whether it be the Jews, Poles, Scots, English, Dutch or whoever, is a nasty, vicious and despicable thing to do.
My great-grandfather died at Aushwitz. I find it grossly offensive that this woman tries to excuse the Germans their crimes on the grounds that they were harshly treated after World War 1. France was cruelly treated after the Franco-Prussian War - thousands died from malnutrition during and after the siege of Paris, and France was forced to pay crippling war reparations - but the French didn't found a Nazi party! Ariana Franklin also fails to note that the Germans had operated their first "death camp" in their African colony, Namibia, where half a million Africans were murdered in the first decade of the 20th century - long before Ariana Franklin can use the hardships of the Weimar Republic as an excuse.
This was the first book I read by this author. Assuredly, it will be the last.