In The Last Survivor, journalist Timothy Ryback explores the surprising — and often disturbing — ways the citizens of Dachau go about their lives in a city the rest of us associate with gas chambers and mass graves. A grandmother recalls the echo of wooden shoes on cobblestone, the clip-clop of inmates marched from boxcars to barracks under the cover of night. A mother-to-be opts to deliver in a neighboring town, so that her child’s birth certificate will not be stamped DACHAU. An “SS baby,” now middle-aged, wonders about the father he never knew. And should you visit Dachau, you will meet Martin Zaidenstadt, an 87 year-old who accosts tourists with a first-hand account of the camp before its liberation in 1945. Beautifully written, compassionate, wise, The Last Survivor takes us to a place that bears the mark of Cain — and a people unwilling to be defined by the past, yet painfully unable to forget.
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