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The Bonfire of Berlin: A Lost Childhood in Wartime Germany (1995)

por Helga Schneider

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1548177,278 (3.61)Nenhum(a)
Abandoned by her mother, who left to pursue a career as a camp guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau, loathed by her step-mother, cooped up in a cellar, starved, parched, lonely amidst the fetid crush of her neighbours, Helga Schneider endured the horrors of wartime Berlin. The Bonfire of Berlin is a searing account of her survival. The grinding misery of hunger, combined with the terror of air-raids, the absence of fresh water and the constant threat of death and disease served not to unite the tenants and neighbours of her apartment block but rather to intensify the minor irritations of communal life into flashpoints of rage and violence. And with Russian victory the survivors could not look forward a return to peacetime but rather to pillage and rape. It was only gradually that Schneider's life returned to some kind of normality, as her beloved father returned from the front, carrying his own scars of the war. This shocking book evokes the reality of life in a wartime city in all its brutality and deprivation, while retaining a kernel of hope that while life remains not all is lost.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
All through this book I wanted to say, "WHINER!"

Don't get me wrong, people endured terrible suffering I'll never understand or be able to relate to during WWII. And, when reading what she actually went through it seemed even worse than Anne Frank (up until the time she and her family were discovered and taken to the concentration camp, of course). At least Anne was with her family that loved her, and there seemed to be a bit more food as I recall, water was not such an issue. Just the basics. What I think it has to be is the way in which Schneider tells her story. Sometimes it feels like simply a listing of every miserable thing she can remember.

An example of what I am talking about, from her post war chapters at the end:

"Peter was enrolled in the first year, and he gave himself such airs about it that it damaged my health for a week."

Come on, really? Admittedly, her little brother sounded like a total brat and I'm sure he was a pain. But, damaged her health? Whatever.

She seems to just take it that step too far. In her listing of the sufferings of those left in Berlin at the end of the war she carries on until she adds that one or two things that are just plain silly in comparison.

She does, once, note that their situation was nothing compared to the Jews in the concentration camps, but it felt a bit like an after thought...like she was supposed to say something like that, so she did.

Then, there was the feeling I got regarding her family's ties to the Nazis, and her own opinions in regard to the Fuhrer. You know, the whole, "Me thinks she doth protest too much"? She MET the man, she tells about meeting him, about her brother's worship of him and her serious dislike of him. I don't mean she was in a crowd of thousand of people so brain washed by his speeches to be giving the Hitler salute in unison. I mean she met the man, shook his hand and received a bar of marzipan. The range of emotion from her brother's to hers were set at such extremes that it served only to further paint her brother as the bad guy and distanced herself as much as possible from the Third Reich.

The underlying war with her stepmother may just have been exactly as she portrays it, however, I have to wonder what the other side would say? Did she really never love Helga? Was she unable to? Did it have anything to do with Helga herself? There are people who you would love, if they would let you. But, they are never willing to let you in, finding fault with you wherever they can. With those people, one might be inclined to have a little less patience. Just a thought.

I have to wonder if her brother has read this book, and how he feels about it?

All in all, her writing style just didn't suit me. I came away feeling more irritated by it, suspicious of her exaggerated attempt to distance herself from anything controversial, to vilify everyone around her apart from Opa. Literally, everyone in her family, other than Opa. ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
Stupendo, anche se mi vergogno quasi a definirlo in questo modo per il tema che tratta. Helga, 4 anni, insieme al fratellino Peter di 19 mesi, con il padre al fronte, verranno abbandonati dalla madre che deciderà, spontaneamente, di arruolarsi nelle SS. I due bambini vengono dati prima alla nonna e in un secondo momento il padre deciderà di risposarsi, andranno cosi a vivere con la matrigna, la quale riuscirà ad accettare Peter, perché biondo e con gli occhi azzurri (razza ariana) ma non accetterà Helga, la quale verrà sballottata a destra e a sinistra, finirà anche in orfanotrofio, dove si sentirà accolta. Poco dopo decideranno di farla nuovamente rientrare nella famiglia proprio quando su Berlino imperversano i bombardamenti. Il libro racconta della loro vita nascosti in cantina tra paura ed enormi stenti. Helga instaurerà un rapporto speciale col “Opa”, forse l’unico che l’abbia veramente amata.
Emotivamente per me molto toccante e non posso che dargli 5 stelline. Anche quando smettevo di leggere pensavo a questa ragazzina e a quanto ha visto e vissuto, perche di storia tristemente vera stiamo parlando. ( )
1 vote Sally68 | Jun 29, 2018 |
Un libro che tutti dovremmo leggere, al pari di Se questo è un uomo di Primo Levi. Per conoscere le atrocità della guerra. ( )
  Claudy73 | Mar 10, 2015 |
All through this book I wanted to say, "WHINER!"

Don't get me wrong, people endured terrible suffering I'll never understand or be able to relate to during WWII. And, when reading what she actually went through it seemed even worse than Anne Frank (up until the time she and her family were discovered and taken to the concentration camp, of course). At least Anne was with her family that loved her, and there seemed to be a bit more food as I recall, water was not such an issue. Just the basics. What I think it has to be is the way in which Schneider tells her story. Sometimes it feels like simply a listing of every miserable thing she can remember.

An example of what I am talking about, from her post war chapters at the end:

"Peter was enrolled in the first year, and he gave himself such airs about it that it damaged my health for a week."

Come on, really? Admittedly, her little brother sounded like a total brat and I'm sure he was a pain. But, damaged her health? Whatever.

She seems to just take it that step too far. In her listing of the sufferings of those left in Berlin at the end of the war she carries on until she adds that one or two things that are just plain silly in comparison.

She does, once, note that their situation was nothing compared to the Jews in the concentration camps, but it felt a bit like an after thought...like she was supposed to say something like that, so she did.

Then, there was the feeling I got regarding her families ties to the Nazis, and her own opinions in regard to the Fuhrer. You know, the whole, "Me thinks she doth protest too much"? She MET the man, she tells about meeting him, about her brother's worship of him and her serious dislike of him. I don't mean she was in a crowd of thousand of people so brain washed by his speeches to be giving the Hitler salute in unison. I mean she met the man, shook his hand and received a bar of marzipan. The range of emotion from her brother's to hers were set at such extremes that it served only to further paint her brother as the bad guy and distanced herself as much as possible from the Third Reich.

The underlying war with her stepmother may just have been exactly as she portrays it, however, I have to wonder what the other side would say? Did she really never love Helga? Was she unable to? Did it have anything to do with Helga herself? There are people who you would love, if they would let you. But, they are never willing to let you in, finding fault with you wherever they can. With those people, one might be inclined to have a little less patience. Just a thought.

I have to wonder if her brother has read this book, and how he feels about it?

All in all, her writing style just didn't suit me. I came away feeling more irritated by it, suspicious of her exaggerated attempt to distance herself from anything controversial, to vilify everyone around her apart from Opa. Literally, everyone in her family, other than Opa. ( )
  Ameliapei | Apr 18, 2013 |
Il progressivo annientamento di Berlino durante la guerra, visto dagli occhi di una bambina che fu anche portata in visita nel bunker di Hitler. ( )
  BiblioLorenzoLodi | Mar 16, 2012 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Helga Schneiderautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Whiteside, ShaunTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Abandoned by her mother, who left to pursue a career as a camp guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau, loathed by her step-mother, cooped up in a cellar, starved, parched, lonely amidst the fetid crush of her neighbours, Helga Schneider endured the horrors of wartime Berlin. The Bonfire of Berlin is a searing account of her survival. The grinding misery of hunger, combined with the terror of air-raids, the absence of fresh water and the constant threat of death and disease served not to unite the tenants and neighbours of her apartment block but rather to intensify the minor irritations of communal life into flashpoints of rage and violence. And with Russian victory the survivors could not look forward a return to peacetime but rather to pillage and rape. It was only gradually that Schneider's life returned to some kind of normality, as her beloved father returned from the front, carrying his own scars of the war. This shocking book evokes the reality of life in a wartime city in all its brutality and deprivation, while retaining a kernel of hope that while life remains not all is lost.

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