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This book might need to be read more than once to catch the nuances.
The author, 19 wrote a story that is like those ambiguous pictures that ask the viewer “Is this a young woman with a rose on her neck or is it an old crone with a shawl?” Either answer is right, and more often than not the view can easily see both images, but in the end, one might stand out more than the other. You initially see one thing, but with a bit of a paradigm shift, the other image stands out in stark relief, and the viewer goes back and forth. There is no answer, there is only what the viewer sees and choses.
I can spend hours and pages breaking down this story into various scholarly essays that would garner me an A in Psychology, History, or English Lit (although I graduated a few years ago). But that is not a review, it’s is a book report and case analysis.
So as a review I will say that yes, you should read this book. Keep in mind it does take place in Nazi Germany, in Auschwitz to be precise. There are detailed and graphic depictions of what went on in those Doctor’s laboratories. The Mengele twin testing, the hypothermia tests, and other historically known and accurately portrayed incidences that went on. There is little to no interactions with the general populations. Also, the story itself may cause distress if the reader finds themselves a bit too “understanding” to situations. It is a prime case of situational ethics.
I won’t say much else because the story needs to be read without any preconceived notions. If you go in with someone else’s ideas and takeaways it might prevent your own discoveries and conclusions. It takes a while before the abuse and torture morph into something else, even when the abuse and torture continue.
The book is continually pushing the line in trying to say, is this still a romance? Is this still love? Or are you, the reader, becoming like Erich and grasping for anything else besides the obvious because to believe that it isn’t love means that his own feelings are wrong and misplaced, that he truly has no hope and nothing to look forward to.
Remember, Erich is set up in the first chapters to have the psyche and sexual leanings that will put him in the perfect position to take the abuse and rise to the challenges in the book, while endearing him to Kaltherzig in a way that no other previous “boy” had.
Had Erich never met Kaltherzig, never been arrested and sent to the camps, where would his life be? I am curious to know what other reviewers feel about this story. Do they find love, or is it the results of abuse/objectification/experimentation/paternalism/deprivation/behavior modification?

If anyone draws the parallels to current BDSM Master/slave roles, keep in mind, Master/slave roles that are healthy have both people being equals in two different roles. Both have a mind to say. The Master holds the reins, but the slave allows them to be held and can walk away at any time. ( )
  Rellwood74 | Feb 18, 2021 |
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