SPARK OF LIFE by Erich Maria Remarque


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The grim reality of the concentration camp is immortalized in this powerful and horrible book. What Remarque did for the German soldier of World War I he has done for the German political prisoner in the concentration camp of World War II. And throughout he seems to point a finger of warning -- ""You must not forget. This is the way it was. This is the way it might be again, whatever totalitarian power is given free rein."" One feels, as one reads, that one simply can't and need not read more, as the details made familiar to those who had the opportunity and the hardihood to see the concentration camp films come to life, in the story of the Veterans in ""the Small camp"" where men too far gone to work were left to die, and of the crematorium where the quota of bodies must be kept up to assignment, no matter what the means. Even here ""the spark of life"" made skeletons cling to ways and means of cadging that essential bit of food, that essential drive, to hold breath in life. ""509"", who had elected to have his name forgotten, and Berger, who wondered whether he could ever operate again, are the two whose story claims center stage, but in Bucher, who had youth, and Ruth, with whom he shared his crust through the barbed wire, lay the promise of a future which would hold memory but not only hatred, as they faced freedom and fulfillment. Almost unrelieved by any modicum of humor, this is an amazing document, and with the tragic remnants of humanity, the reader goes through the days when the ""enemy"" were to prove the sole hope of release. It is a book which tears at one's sympathies and heartstrings, but it is a book which those who want to forget will find easy to bypass.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1951
Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts