Title: The Unforgotten Prayer
Author: Danny Rittman
Published Date: February 2011
***THIS BOOK WAS GIVEN TO ME IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW***
This is my story – my life from the horrors of war and slaughter to the travails of change and atonement. For much of my life I lived in fear that my past would catch up to me. I hid my beliefs and prejudices and walked among the gentle, unsuspecting people of a small American town. I am, or was, an embodiment of madness, atrocity, cruelty and horror.
I had to remind myself how to behave, react and interact with those around me. I could not pick my friends, neighbors or the people I would like to associate with. I could not express my desires and thoughts. I could not do what I wanted to do. I was locked inside a mad world without the ability to make any contribution, as I used to do – during the war and before it.
Friends and neighbors? I shunned them. Social groups and religious organizations? I shunned them as well. Often I thought it better to turn myself in or die one way or another – just to get everything over with.
That changed one day – a miraculous day when a young child came into my life and helped me back into life, reappraisal, and a quest for atonement.
That young child was Jewish.
And I am a former SS officer.
This story focuses around a former SS officer during the Holocaust. The introduction starts “This is my story – my life from the horrors of war and slaughter to the travails of change and atonement.” The book starts with Johann’s life as a SS officer and the devastating events of the Holocaust and quickly moves to his escape to America and his life after. Through Johann’s memories you see the times during the Holocaust when he struggled with the tragedies occurring before him.
When a Jewish family moves next door and befriends Johann he starts to questions his beliefs. Over time their young son shows Johann how there can be goodness inside of him. Can he forgive himself for what he has done in the past?
The characters were well developed in this book and you felt all of the anguish that Johann had went and is going through. Ruth and Samuel were key characters helping Johann back into life, reappraisal, and a quest for atonement.
Kudos to Mr. Rittman for his eloquent writing on a tough subject. This book flowed easily and brought out so many emotions. In the end he showed that humans can have compassion and forgiveness in their heart. This is the type of book that will stick in your mind long after you read the last page.
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