The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell is a fictional autobiography, describing the life of Maximilien Aue, an officer in the SS. It was originally written in French by an American born author. It has received wonderful reviews and has been compared to War and Peace. (I know many people who love War and Peace, and it is a classic. I, however, did not like it.)  I am not a fan of Russian Literature.  Primarily because I always figure there is enough misery in life that I don’t need to go looking for more.  It doesn’t matter to me how “realistic” it is; I don’t need it.  Other reviewers, who know much more than I, say it is very well researched and correct in details.  Aue begins as an Ainsatzgruppe (death squad member) at the massacre of Babi Yar.  Through the war he survives a horrible head wound at Stalingrad on the front.  He works as an economic advisor, determining food allowances for death camp internees.  He goes home to France on leave and brutally murders his mother and stepfather.  He returns to Berlin.  There is a deep sense of irony in that while Aue is pursued by two policemen from France who are convinced he murdered his parents, he is at the same time helping exterminate millions of people in the concentration camps and no one cares about that.
In general, I have to say, I did not like this book. The only good I can say I gained is this: I am convinced, that while one death among so many would not make a point or accomplish anything in protest of what was happening – it would still be better to die than accept any kind of involvement at all in such horrible things. In cliche form: If you aren’t part of the solution – you are part of the problem. This man – had he been real, would have been part of the problem.

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About Kiwi Starr

Wife, Christian believer, mother of two adult children, Grandmother of Two toddlers, Great Aunt to many, retired science teacher, writer, animal lover.
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