Lives Lived And Lost
The Rabbit Girls by Anna Ellory – oh wow what a heart breaking historical read focusing on women, their bonds and their will to survive.
The novel is set in Berlin in 1989 as the wall is coming down, as well as in 1942-1945 in Berlin, Ravensbruck and Auschwitz. This is a novel that will haunt the reader long after the last page is read.
We cannot survive in isolation. If we are alone, we will lose hope. If we lose hope, we die. The women in the camps supported each other, willing each other on in their fight to survive. The reader marvels at their strength, their love and their sacrifices. “Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for a friend.”
In contrast to the love, there is the guilt – in moments of weakness and a desperate desire to survive, things were done that would haunt forever. Moral codes were blurred and broken in the camps.
There are some incredibly hard to read scenes within the camps. Cruelty had no boundaries as guards became monsters. Medical experiments in the name of science maimed and killed. The women inmates offered love and comfort where they could. “Hani’s eyes leaked love.” The world seemed oblivious or didn’t care. Women needed to survive to be able to voice the horrors. “We have to stay alive, for we are the only witnesses.”
In 1989 Berlin an unlikely friendship forms between two women – one from the east and one from the west. Mirroring the war years, it is only by standing together that the strength is found to face and confront another evil monster. Here there are difficult to read scenes of domestic abuse. It is not ‘asked for’ nor ‘deserved’. It is abuse and never the fault of the victim.
The novel is written in the third person in 1989, in the form of letters from the camps and in the first person as we hear the inner workings of a mind confined by a stroke. It is well thought out and put together.
The Rabbit Girls is a powerful and harrowing read. It will consume. It will haunt. It is also a work of great love – a love that will last, a love that cannot die.
We must keep alive the memory of the six million innocents who perished. I will leave you with a powerful quote:
“People who experienced it cannot find the words, and those around them do not want to hear.”