Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand my Grandfather's Nazi Past, by Gabrielle Robinson {ends 10/21}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Berlin had fallen, but the fighting continued. As Api moved between the bunker and the clinic, he still saw plenty of violence. On Tuesday, May 1, he wrote hastily in his diary, often crossing out lines because he was too exhausted to find the right words. “Toward 1:30 a.m., terrible carpet bombing. Our quarter is burning on all sides and on all ends. Nowhere are the streets passable because of rubble, smoke, and flames. We are imprisoned by the fire.” A little later, he voiced his anger and frustration: “And the executioners in their bunkers,” as he called the Nazi leadership, “criminals!! Rome, Milano, and other foreign cities were given up to spare them, and they allow their own people to perish like dogs with hunger and fire and fratricide. The houses already are looted by civilians or tramps. Several times a day we have to destroy weapons and munitions, which our own troops drop off by our building, since we have no communication with any department.” Api was referring to one of the first orders the Soviets put out, that all weapons had to be turned in immediately. He even gave up his old ornamental sword from World War I.

When Gabrielle Robinson found her grandfather’s diaries from his time in Berlin at the end of World War II, she was excited to learn more about the kind man who helped raise her. She re-examined whether to share, and then how to share this information when she discovered he was also a member of the Nazi party.

Official synopsis:
Book Review - Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand my Grandfather's Nazi Past, by Gabrielle Robinson
After her mother’s death, Gabrielle Robinson found two diaries her grandfather had kept while serving as doctor during the fall of Berlin 1945. He recorded his daily struggle to survive in the ruined city where little could be done for the wounded without water, light, and medications. But then the diaries revealed something that hit Robinson like a punch to the gut: Api, her beloved grandfather, had been a Nazi.

Robinson juxtaposes her grandfather’s harrowing account with her memories of his loving protection after the war and raises disturbing questions about the political responsibility we all carry as individuals. Moving and provocative, Api’s Berlin Diaries offers a firsthand and personal perspective on the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.


As the author knew before she started writing her grandfather’s story, this book spent equal time answering questions about German’s lives at the end of the war, and causing everyone to question their thoughts on good vs evil and contemplating carefully if a German citizen who was a member of the Nazi party was complicit in party’s atrocities.

The story is told beautifully, including snippets from Api’s diaries, filling in the blanks with how Api probably spent his days, and quotes and excerpts from books researched about the same time period. The author presents a well-rounded emotional journey of Api’s likely experiences at the end of the war and during the occupation immediately following.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. So many stories have been told of people in their varied roles throughout World War II. This feels like a heartbreaking, average story of a man who joined the Nazi party as many of his contemporaries did, but never displayed anything but compassion and a desire to continue his contributions to those in the community around him. It is a unique story for those who enjoy World War II biographies and memoirs. 

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, struggle snuggles with her two black cats, and consuming salty snack foods and Cherry Coke. She also posts on Instagram as PoshBecki.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of Api's Berlin Diaries!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, October 21st, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand my Grandfather's Nazi Past, by Gabrielle Robinson

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