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review 2015-10-12 22:30
The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp - Rochelle G. Saidel

Il 30 aprile 1945 l’Armata Rossa liberava Ravensbrück. Nel campo c’erano “soltanto” tremila donne in gravi condizioni. Le altre, su ordine nazista stavano affrontando la marcia della morte.


Ravensbrück è stato l'unico grande campo di concentramento nazista destinato alle donne. A Ravensbrück c’erano molti modi per uccidere le donne oltre all’insostenibile sovraffollamento e alla camera a gas: lavoro forzato, tortura, iniezioni letali, esperimenti “medici”, fame, sia dentro sia fuori del campo.

Tra il 1939 e il 1945, 132.000 donne provenienti da ventitré paesi sono state imprigionate a Ravensbrück. Prigioniere politiche, testimoni di Geova, asociali, criminali, prostitute, rom, ebree (circa il 20% della popolazione concentrazionaria). 15.000, o poco più, sono sopravvissute.

La ricerca di Rochelle Saidel, è durata più di vent’anni. Ha raccolto oltre sessanta racconti e interviste rilasciate dalle donne ebree sopravvissute sparse in vari paesi degli Stati Uniti, d’Europa, d’Israele. Testimonianze inedite, documenti e fotografie provenienti da archivi privati. La sua opera rende un ritratto collettivo e individuale di queste ex deportate a Ravensbrück. Le loro memorie forniscono nuove informazioni sul campo centrale e sui circa settanta sotto-campi, sulla vita quotidiana, sul cibo, sullo spirito d’amicizia, sulla paura di stupri e abusi sessuali, sulla lotta per sopravvivere, sugli atti di resistenza e di solidarietà. E ancora, sulla condizione dei bambini. Fanciulli figli della collettività perché in assenza della madre altre donne si prendevano cura di loro. E se la madre moriva, un’altra donna accoglieva l’orfano come proprio figlio. Sali Solomon, sopravvissuta all’inferno, aveva otto anni quando varcò il cancello di Ravensbrück. Riflette sulla differenza fra un bambino e un adulto che entra in campo di concentramento: “… un adulto che vi entra ha conosciuto un’altra vita fuori, ha già vissuto la sua infanzia. Ma quando si entra a otto anni, campi, torture e stupro diventano parte della vita quotidiana. E hai quasi dimenticato come era prima”.


P.S. Peccato non esista una traduzione in italiano. Speriamo che qualcuno prima o poi ci pensi.

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review 2014-03-31 00:00
Camp Concentration: A Novel
Camp Concentration: A Novel - Thomas M. Disch Not that enjoyable. Philosophical eggnog for me! No thanks!))))
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review 2014-03-10 01:12
Escape From Camp 14 Review!
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West - Blaine Harden

I read Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden right at the end of February and I could not put it down. I read it in one day and was completely immersed in the terrifying world of North Korea's concentration camps.


Escape From Camp 14 is a nonfiction book that recounts Shin Dong Hyuk's life in and escape from one of North Korea's most brutal concentration camps, Camp 14. I really appreciated how well Blaine Harden balanced the "high action" events in Shin's life with engaging and easy to read background on North Korea's concentration camps and relationship with surrounding countries, namely South Korea and China.


Though I took the information that I received through this text with a grain of salt, as I have not been able to do any further research and it is extremely difficult to get any definitive facts about what is happening in North Korea, I felt like this was a really great place to start gaining some information about the extreme conditions in North Korea.


It should be difficult to believe that there are still concentration camps in the world, but unfortunately, I didn't find it hard to believe at all. For that reason, I think it is almost more important to spread awareness about these camps. Even with my limited knowledge about North Korea, I was not surprised to learn that many people inside and outside of Korea either do not know about these camp or turn a blind eye to them. 


This is a highly political book and one that brings up ethical issues, humanitarian issues, and personal issues as they are exemplified by the treatment of the prisoners and escapees of these camps. 


I would recommend this book to anyone interested in fast-paced, engaging, and thought-provoking nonfiction narratives. It is definitely worth reading.


Happy Reading!

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review 2012-12-17 00:00
Camp Concentration
Camp Concentration - Thomas M. Disch Camp Concentration by Disch and Otto by Tom Ungerer


A pair made in a sort of hell, I guess, birthday books read back to back.

I don’t understand why Otto is badly written, when the author is obviously capable of writing good text in English. If you want to write some sort of nightmare for children – even worse, a nightmare that really happened – one has to be very careful, I imagine and this isn’t. It uses badly cliched English that is inappropriate for any readership, let alone kids. He describes the bombing of his German town thus: ‘Among the ruins and the fires lay innocent victims.’ What on earth does that mean? That some of the civilians bombed in German towns weren’t innocent victims? Does he mean anybody killed by these bombs were innocent victims? One could conceive of an argument along the lines of all the innocent victims being in concentrations camps, after all – two words ignored by this children’s book. Then there is the general dilemma of writing about such a topic for children: I am uneasy about his treatment, really uneasy about picking such a theme and coming up with a happy ending. Finally, the language is stilted, quite unattractive to read. I don’t understand why a child would want to read it.

Nor, as an adult, would I consider giving it to a child. ‘Mummy why did Oskar let those men take his friend away? Why didn’t his mother help? Why didn’t….If somebody wanted to take my friend away, would you stop them, Mummy?’ ‘Well, no, I wouldn’t, Oskar. It’s better just to watch when that happens and be glad it isn’t happening to you’. Honestly. The more I think about this book, the more I am really unhappy about it.

The pictures are nice.

Unfortunately Camp Concentration has no pictures. It does, however, avoid avoiding the words concentration camp. One can only assume, knowing that Disch considers himself too clever for words – no, not too clever for words, his books are full of his cleverness, little jokes for his friends and so on, exactly the sort of thing I object to when reading clever dicks – one can only assume that moving the word order is a play on his own camp ways as they are expressed in this book, much as it may have other rationales as well. It was explained to me after I finished reading this – and I must confess that my reading became cursory after a while – that I had missed all the clues. Was I supposed to know there were clues and that I was reading a mystery book? If I was supposed to realise this, it was badly communicated to me. If I wasn’t supposed to realise it, we are left with a denouement which is rather like one of those who-dun-its where the author cheats. There are always flashes of good writing in Disch’s work, but the point is, SO WHAT? There are probably a thousand people on goodreads, and tens of thousands of bloggers out there who produce such flashes, or, amazingly, keep it up. I think Disch is lazy, but because he has such tickets on his cleverness, he doesn’t think that matters. I beg to differ. But then, to be fair, I don’t think cleverness is nearly sufficient to produce a good piece of writing. Not nearly.

It is interesting to consider that we have here two examples of genre writing, both of which consistently fall down in the writing department. Picture books need good pictures and good text is only ever ‘nice if you can get it’. Science fiction is full of examples of authors who have great ideas but who can’t write. Six year olds probably don’t care and nor do science fiction buffs. Unfortunately I am neither.

As I meander through...

p. 19 ...people who can't diet for days running shouldn't attempt hunger strikes

p23 What gives? A question that is on the tip of every guinea-pig's tongue
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review 2009-11-26 00:00
Camp Concentration: A Novel - Thomas M. Disch In the near future the US government experiments on political prisoners by infecting them with an engineered virus that raises their intelligence to genius levels while causing them to die a slow painful death. Disch pulls off the impressive feat of writing first person narration of a character who is gradually advancing from average to exceptional intelligence.
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