Hitler, Stalin, mum and dad by Daniel Finkelstein

Hitler, Stalin, mum and dad by Daniel Finkelstein – a family memoir of miraculous survival – is a fantastic book. His mother, Mirjam, was born in Germany to Alfred and Margarete Wiener. Her father started cataloguing Nazi crimes since 1933, even before they moved to Amsterdam. Her father escaped to New York, but unfortunately she, her mother, and her two sisters were victims of the Holocaust, and they were taken to Bergen-Belsen. Everything happened too fast for them to be able to flee in time.

His father, Ludwik, was born in Lwów, Poland. He was an only child of an wealthy Jewish family. In 1939 Stalin invaded Poland and they were in danger. Ludwik’s father was arrested and taken to the Gulag, while him and his mother were deported to Siberia. Lwów is now Lviv, part of Ukraine. It was taken by the soviets, but Poland recognised that part of Ukraine as Ukrainian historical lands even before the fall of the soviet union.

Hitler, Stalin, mum and dad by Daniel Finkelstein

This is a memoir, showing the struggles of the author’s parents and grandparents. The book goes from one parent to another, which only highlights the similarities in brutality of the Nazis and the soviets. There are funny stories in the book, such as the weeding conundrum in the soviet fields. There are also heartbreaking stories. Because his father was in Siberia, he saw what the allies did to help or ignore the plight of the Jews. As his mother was in the Netherlands, what happened to her happened to most Jews who lived there. The response or lack of response from US and UK was, at times, shocking. He touches upon Switzerland and its perceived neutrality, although it was clear that they were pr0-Nazi.

I will share a passage from the book, it’s right at the end:
“When the 75 anniversary of the Nuremberg trials was celebrated in 2020 as the birth of international justice, it wasn’t much commented upon that every crime the tribunal had determined that the Nazis were guilty of, the soviets were guilty of too.
The Nuremberg defendants had been charged with crimes against peace (the soviet invasion of Poland was a crime against peace); they had been charged with crimes against humanity (the soviet deportation of my father and the enslavement of Dolu [grandfather] were crimes against humanity); they had been charged with war crimes (the murder of Ignacy Schrage and his fellow officers were war crimes [Katyn massacre]); and they had been charged with a conspiracy to commit these crimes (the Molotov-Ribbentrop secret appendix and the Beria Katyn memo are among the documents that prove soviet conspiracy).
The soviets even succeeded in bamboozling the other powers into charging the Nazis for the Katyn murders at Nuremberg, although the effort was so embarrassing that it fizzled out, and wasn’t mentioned by the judges at the end of the proceedings.”

This is why I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed it a lot. While I borrowed it from the library, I think I will get a copy in the future, maybe a paperback.

Hitler, Stalin, mum and dad by Daniel Finkelstein

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: YES!
Published by: William Collins
Year it was published: 2023
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Memoir
Pages: 471

About the author: Daniel William Finkelstein, Baron Finkelstein, OBE, was born on 30 August 1962. He was educated at University College School, the London School of Economics, and City University London. He is a British journalist and politician. He is a former executive editor of The Times and remains a weekly political columnist. He is a former chairman of Policy Exchange who was succeeded by David Frum in 2014. He is chair of the think tank Onward. He was made a member of the House of Lords in August 2013, sitting as a Conservative.
Finkelstein is Jewish; his mother Mirjam was a Holocaust survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, while his father Ludwik was born in Lwów (then in Poland, now in Ukraine). His father became Professor of Measurement and Instrumentation at City University London. He is a grandson of Dr Alfred Wiener, the Jewish activist and founder of the Wiener Library.
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2 thoughts on “Hitler, Stalin, mum and dad by Daniel Finkelstein”

    • Yes, the russians are doing it again. The book is really good. I liked the stories, sometimes he talked about people his parents and grandparents interacted with, which was very interesting. The life in the soviet gulag and his father’s life when he was deported was the most interesting.

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