Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Continuing the WWII reading journey I’ve been on lately, I’m currently reading Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke. I’m halfway through it and really enjoying it, heartbreaking as it is. Since my review for that one isn’t ready for you yet (I have to finish the book first!), I want to share my review of another of Ms. Gohlke’s WWII novels. She is quickly becoming a new favorite author of mine for gut-wrenching historical fiction stories. I hope you’ll give her a try next time you’re in the mood for some wonderful WWII fiction.

Compassion in Nazi Germany

“I would rather die for something than live for nothing.”
Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Sacrifice. Selflessness. Compassion.

Do you see these things played out in today’s society? They are difficult to find, I’ll admit, but they are still there.

But were they around in Hitler’s Germany?

You might think a quick, “No way!”

You’d be wrong.

Some people risked their lives and their family’s lives to hide Jews, to save them from the death camps. Others stole ration cards or forged documents to help the Jews escape into another country. Eventually, many of these heroes were found out and taken to the death camps along with the Jews they had been helping.

When I read books like Secrets She Kept, those monstrous days come to life for me. Authors like Cathy Gohlke make it easy to imagine the horrors forced upon innocent people. I usually end up crying fiercely, as if it were my own family who’d suffered at the SS guards’ hands.

This book is not a happy one; don’t go into it thinking that. Be prepared with a box of tissues. Truly, it is a great book, though, because it brings to light just how evil the Nazis were and how so many lives were destroyed — even those that survived the camps.

However, it also shows how a select few overcame the tragedy that happened to them. There is a silver lining, but I’ll leave it for you to discover. For this ray of hope, I am thankful. Because without it I was ready to hate this book. With it, well… it was a bit torturous, but then, so were the actual events in history. I thought Ms. Gohlke handled the extremely tough topics fairly well and presented a piece of history a lot of people would like to forget ever happened. It’s good that she’s keeping it relevant for the next generation, because if things like this get lost, how can we learn from them? Make sure they’re never repeated?

How do you learn from history? In what ways do you make certain that sacrifice, selflessness, and compassion survive to the next generation?

Do you think you would be brave enough to stand behind the quote at the top of this review?

I did not receive compensation for this review.

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