Konar, Affinity "Mischling" - 2016
This story is told by the twins Pearl and Stasha, two Jewish girl who end up in Auschwitz and are brought into the "Zoo", the experiment chambers of Josef Mengele, also known as "The Angel of Death". The title refers to the fact that the twins had one Jewish and one Aryan parent and were therefore considered of mixed race, "Mischling" in German.
This novel certainly describes one of the darkest parts of a war that was so terrible already, there are no words to describe it.
This is not a pleasant book. There is nothing pleasant about a world where human beings are considered to be worthless because of their origin and where horrific things are done to children in the name of science. That doesn't mean that these kind of books shouldn't be written and shouldn't be read. No, everyone should have to read books like this. We all should be aware of what happened so that it never happens again. Nowhere. We are far away from that, there are atrocities happening all over the world and as long as politicians get votes for racist remarks, we are sliding closer and closer to this world again.
Getting back to the book itself, it is very well written. The twins both tell their stories and we get to know the whole story behind their fate. And the fate of many other people who survived the war or disappeared in it. A very deserving book. Yes, the subject is disturbing, but not knowing about it doesn't make it disappear as if it never happened.
From the back cover:
"It's the fall of 1944 when twelve-year-old twins Pearl and Stasha Zamorski are sent to Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, the sisters take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.
Catching the eye of Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's infamous 'Angel of Death'" and becoming part of an experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to other prisoners. They find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.
That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, Stasha and her companion Feliks - a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin - travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, and the chaos around them, motivated equally by danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. Their hearts mapped with longing, the young survivors discover what has become of the world, and they try to imagine a future within it."