A recipient of the Marion Samuel Prize commemorates the 60th anniversary of Samuel’s death with a brief overview of her short life.
Established in 1999 by the German Remembrance Foundation to commemorate Jewish children killed in the Holocaust, this annual award for historical research deliberately took the name of a girl about whom nothing was known save the place and date of her birth and the date of her deportation to Auschwitz at age 12. Upon winning the prize in 2003, German Holocaust historian Aly (Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, 2007, etc.) decided to research Marion’s life, and this slender tome contains the results. The author turns up some interesting material on both Marion and her relatives from the archives. Photographs and birth certificates belonging to various members of the Samuel family are reprinted in the early pages of the book. As the author weaves together the various strands of their lives, the documents he unearths become more disturbing. They detail the repossession of the Samuel home, inventory the contents of their apartment and list Marion on a roster of Jews taken to Auschwitz. There is nothing remarkable about the life of this young girl and her kin. Aly relates no daring escape attempts or epic tales of bravery against all odds. Instead, he humanizes his subject by reprinting a touching letter from a former classmate. In 2003, Hilma Krüger recalled a pretty girl with “large almond eyes” and a sad moment in 1938, just before Marion was forced to leave the school, when she burst into tears and confessed her fears: “People go into a tunnel in a mountain, and along the way there is a great hole and they all fall in and disappear.”
A distinguished and affecting account.