It would be interesting to read Stoessinger’s story written by someone other than himself. Why? First of all he does not give himself enough credit for his achievements and the difficult path he had to wander. Secondly he is far too attached and close to the events, especially in his personal relationships, to open up about them or be objective.
Instead throughout the book there is a level of disconnect, which is completely normal for people who have been through horrific trauma, especially during the Holocaust.
Whilst he is describing his relationships there seems to be a lack of conscious thought about his own role in the failure of his relationships. The almost indifferent way he talks about his philandering, his abandonment of wives and children, and the femme fatale, who almost destroys him.
If you go all the way back to the lack of a father in his life, and the way his mother didn’t protect him from his abusive stepfather, things become clearer. It is almost as if he didn’t want to subject his own children to the disappointment of being hurt by him. Ironically that is exactly what happened anyway.
Being pulled from the arms of his beloved grandparents, the only ones who really showed any compassion or warmth for him, is probably the root and cause of most of his emotional problems. The fact his mother and stepfather couldn’t save them is secondary to the fact that in his mind he is the one who abandoned them and couldn’t save them from the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
On top of that horrific thought and knowing they must have suffered, is the knowledge that their bodies are in a mass grave. Nameless, homeless, unclaimed and forever beyond reach for him.
When I say emotional I mean his complete detachment from his own experiences and choices, as he tells the story of his life. I think without knowing it Stoessinger has actually opened up a very large window into his heart and soul, perhaps just not the window he planned to present and open in this book.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss.