From Nazi Germany to South Africa by Steven Robins (Penguin) ISBN: 9781776090242
Robins, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the University of Stellenbosch, writes about his quest to uncover the fate of family members in Berlin during the Second World War. This book provides a remembrance for his family, who perished in the holocaust.
Robins begins with a photograph of three women that stood in his family dining room in Port Elizabeth. He learns that these women are his father’s family, photographed in Berlin in 1937. His father, who escaped Nazi Germany to South Africa in 1936, never spoke about his past.
The photograph proves to be the catalyst for an intimate journey. From Berlin to Washington and the Karoo, Robins gathers information on his family’s private lives and disquieting historical data. The book is full of correspondences and photographs.
With each page I turned, I sensed the growing terror as the Nazi noose tightens around the Jews in Berlin. The stripping away of Jewish identity and dignity coincides with their loss of property.
I found the parallels that Robins draws with South Africa’s Apartheid past and the eugenics of Nazi Germany fascinating. An extraordinary read.