Unique And Horrifying
Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey is a heart wrenching historical tale that looks at the Holocaust in a different way.
The book alternates between four voices – the former camp commandant in 1954 looking backwards, his wife in the form of an imaginary diary, a Jewish doctor writing to his daughter in 1946 looking backwards and eye witness accounts from the local town. Together these voices piece together life at Buchenwald.
We witness the commandant making excuses for what he does, trying to justify what can never be justified. We see his wife as she has cancer looking backwards to her life in Munich and also discovering a forbidden faith in God. The doctor is looking for news of his wife and daughter in Theresienstadt as he operates his cancer curing machine. And the townspeople deny what is happening on their doorstep.
We observe the hope placed in a machine by the three lead characters. We also witness the terrible cruelty of man’s inhumanity to man. As well as starvation, disease and death, there are little comments revealing the attitude of the Nazis to the Jewish people.
It seems impossible that normal everyday life of raising a family could happen next to a death camp, but it did.
Remote Sympathy is uniquely constructed as the reader witnesses the Holocaust mainly from the viewpoint of the Nazis. This makes it even more horrifying (if that is possible) as the Nazis believe what they are doing is acceptable.
This is a powerful and horrifying read. It is a book that needs to be read in order to keep alive the memory of the six million innocents. It is truly shocking but we must tell their story.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.