Slogging through a book

Keep going or put it aside?

The book I’m reading now – Beyond Tears: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Son in Nazi Germany, by Irmgard Litten, is a wonderful, important book. I’m learning more about the horrors of the Third Reich from a different perspective – that of a mother, trying to save her German son. He was an anti-Nazi lawyer who once subpoenaed and questioned Adolf Hitler! Plus, he was arrested in 1933, the night of the Reichstag Fire. The concentration camps were in operation long before World War II, as he was sent to one.

Two things are making it difficult for me to move quickly through this book. One; I know how it ends, and there is no happy ending. Secondly, it is the sheer heaviness of the book. You feel Mrs. Litten’s despair at her every attempt to see her son, to find out how he is doing, having to be polite and humble to SS and SA officers who she describes vividly. The only light periods so far are the times she thought that his wounds (inflicted from prison torture) were healing, and he was being held in a prison hospital, so he didn’t have to suffer beatings from the guards.

I’m about halfway through now, and reading the pages is emotionally draining. I am pressing on to finish only because I want to find out – did ANY of his peers in the legal community (aside from his loyal secretary) support him? Did anyone in the government or system try to help? So far, every official, every functionary, has denied that anything bad could have happened to him. It is maddening. Surely, there were one or two people who would take the risk to help. So far, there’s only been one.

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