Hunger gnawed at my insides. I couldn’t last much longer. But just as I was beginning to give up, I found myself in the Auschwitz stables, with rows of stalls filled with horses. Barbarossa was a towering, beautiful stallion. He only responded to commands in German, and as the only German-speaking boy, I was chosen as his caretaker. I felt an ember of hope. If I could make myself useful, helping these horses, maybe I could stay alive.”
Henry Oster was just five years old when Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. One of the 2,011 Jews who were rounded up by the Gestapo and deported from Cologne, he was one of only 23 to emerge alive from the concentration camps after the war.
A heart-wrenching and inspirational true account of a courageous little boy who, against all odds, after losing almost everything a human being can lose, survived to tell his story.
Torn from their home, Henry and his parents were deported to the Łódź Ghetto in Poland, a concentration camp within a city. Then, one terrifying day, after losing his father to starvation, Henry found himself and his mom herded onto a stifling, filth-ridden cattle car, on a ride to a place whose name has come to symbolize the worst of humanity: Auschwitz.
Nazis ripped Henry apart from his mother in the shuffling river of children, women, and men stepping off the train. For the first time in his life, Henry was completely alone.
Assigned to work in the Auschwitz stables, breeding horses, Henry had to tend his mares, Mutti, Olga, and the stallion Barbarossa from dawn into the night. It was back-breaking labor, but Henry clung to the belief that if he made himself hard to replace, he might just stay alive. With crippling hunger pains, Henry fed the horses each day, knowing that if he were caught pocketing a carrot or cramming some grain into his mouth, he would face the hangman.
Through it all—from finding ways to escape being selected for death in the Auschwitz/Birkenau gas chambers, to surviving a machine-gun firing squad, to enduring a brutal death march through the bleak Polish winter—Henry somehow found the strength and the will to keep on going.
How did one starving little boy, alone and forgotten, survive this ultimate hell on earth? The Kindness of the Hangman is the heart-breaking, mesmerizing, and unforgettable true story that will destroy your faith in humanity. And then build it back up again.
This book was originally published as The Kindness of the Hangman.
Henry was a very young boy when Hitler came to power. His family struggled to stay together. But, this was just not meant to be. After his father’s death, Henry and his mother were sent to the concentration camps. And how Henry survived years of starvation and abuse is shocking. And then his struggle with the unknown of liberation and the success in the United States is a tale not to be missed.
There is so much packed into this book. And yes it is all terrible and hard to believe. To know human beings did this always amazes me. Man’s inhumanity to man! But, what I discovered is, I do not think I ever really knew what happened to the children after liberation. To be honest, I don’t think I thought any of the children survived. So, to say my eyes were opened is an understatement. This story had me crying and terrified for all the children. I just cannot fathom people doing this to other people…ok…I have said that already but this story just brings it to the surface.
The narrator, William Hope, is incredible. He must have had to pause in places and get his emotions in check!
Need a heart wrenching memoir…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today.
I received this book from the publisher for a honest review.