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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Unlikely True Story of an SS Soldier and a Jewish Woman by O. Hakan Palm

Surviving Hitler

Product Description

Gustav Palm kept his secret for more than forty years. He’d been a young man when Hitler invaded his native Norway. After being forced to guard a Nazi prison camp, however, Gustav took his only option for escape: he volunteered for the Waffen-SS to fight at the front.
Agnes Erdös grew up in privilege and prosperity as a child in Hungary. She and her parents were practicing Roman Catholics, but they were ethnic Jews, and after the Nazis invaded her country, Agnes and her parents were sent to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Miraculously, both Agnes and Gustav survived. And after the war, they found each other.
Told in their own words, Surviving Hitler is the story of two indomitable spirits who built on their life-altering experiences to overcome the past, help each other heal, and embrace a common faith in God that led them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Product Details

  • Size:  6 x 9
  • Pages:  240
  • Publisher:  Deseret Book 2014
  • ISBN:  978-1-60907-847-8

About the Author

Like his brother and three sisters, O. HAKAN PALM, eldest son of Gustav and Agnes Erdös Palm, has been shaped by his parents’ wartime experiences. A successful management consultant in Stockholm, Sweden, Håkan has served faithfully in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a bishop, as a member of two stake presidencies, and seven times as a counselor in the Sweden Stockholm Mission. He and his wife, Barbro, are the parents of seven children.

Book Readers Review

The book 'Surviving Hitler' by O. Hakan Plam is a true story of an SS Soldier and a Jewish Woman told in their own words.  Palm, the author is their eldest son.  Throughout the story there is evidence of courage and depth of character.  This man and woman relate the painful endurance they suffered during World War ll.  The couple shares their life experiences during the war individually.  Gustavo Palm a native of Norway volunteers for the Waffen-SS to fight at the front lines of war.  Agnes Erdos an ethnic Jew and from a privileged family in Hungary is sent with her parents to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The experiences of Gustavo and Agnes are told chronologically and switches back and forth between them as the book progresses.

The life of these two people, their suffering during this period in history, is testament to people who lived and died threw the horror.  It was hard to read the terrible experiences the two had to live through and endure.  Yet their stories told of the courage, kindness, and small acts of compassion they gave and received from others.  I found it difficult at times to continue reading but wanted to understand and know how the two came to meet and marry.  Historical facts and details are added to give perspective and are of interest.  I recommend the book to anyone who has a fascination with WWll, human endurance, fear and faith. 
Book Readers received the ARC copy from Desert Books in exchange for an honest review.


Years of War, 1939–1944

1939, Galyatetö, Hungary
In August 1939 we heard the radio broadcast reporting that Hitler had invaded Poland. At that time, Father and Mother were advisors to a government hotel project in the village of Galyatetö in the Carpathian Mountains, about sixty miles northeast of Budapest. There, the state had built a luxury hotel for wealthy people suffering from cardiovascular and lung disease. The hotel was constructed according to the highest international standard and decorated in the most modern style. My father had been hired as purchasing agent and Mother as human resources manager. The hotel was both a skier’s paradise and a private sanatorium.
For the two and a half years until the Nazi injunctions against the Jews, we lived a continued life of luxury and had many, many meetings with interesting people who were hotel guests, including the famous Hungarian composer Bela Bartok. Every afternoon we had tea at 5:00 with dancing in the bar. There I met my skiing and other hotel friends. At least two or three times a week, I was involved in activities in the bar. I drank chocolate with whipped cream and ate cake. Sometimes I danced a few turns.
1939, Onsöy, Norway
My brother, Erling, and I were preparing a field that we had recently claimed from the forests. We had carried away the last roots and hauled away the last big rocks and were preparing the earth where we intended to plant potatoes in the spring. Suddenly we saw Mother running toward us. Full of excitement and with tears choking her voice, she shouted that war had broken out between England and Germany. Erling and I felt that these countries were so far away—why should their war affect us? If they wanted to fight each other, it was none of our concern. On the other hand, Mother was probably thinking of rationing, suffering, and deprivation along with possible physical injury and violent death.
We continued with our main job of preparing the soil for planting. The feeling of having accomplished something important filled us. We could not fully understand what war between England and Germany might mean to us. Our potato field was more immediate and understandable.
The people in our neighborhood were upset by the radio news and newspaper articles, and the news had all their attention. Everywhere it was discussed passionately and recklessly; some were for one country and others for the other. Even though the war began to touch more and more countries, we still believed it was a war primarily between England and Germany.
On August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and Communist Soviet Union signed a nonaggression agreement, including a secret provision dividing eastern Europe into two spheres of interest between Germany and the Soviet Union. The agreement was called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.