Samson : A Savior Will Rise by Shawn Hoffman is a hard book to read. The reason I picked it is because our son's name is Samson. I did read the description and was expecting a more novel-like story but this is real. A real story with real people and real events. To think back and realize that those atrocities actually happened is mind-boggling. How people could physically do those things to other people is just... there are no words for it. This is the story of strength and faith and love for one's family.
I guess I should talk about the book so you can understand my rantings. It is based in 1941, starts in Poland and ends in Auschwitz. Samson is a Jewish boxer that grew up in America but he and his family moved back to Poland when the Great Depression happened. He was an Olympic Champion and was well known. He was living with his wife, son, twin daughters, parents, brother and fiancee, sister-in-law and toddler nephew.
One afternoon, during the occupation, he did something heroic. A few guards were pushing and shoving a young boy and were hurting him. Samson steps in and punches the guards and they run away. They follow Samson and the boy back into the Ghetto and comb through it until they find Samson's family apartment. Samson is hid in the closet as the German police take his family away to the trains to Auschwitz as a way to lour him out. At the last moment, Samson sneaks into the train compartment. Then begins the journey to the camp.
Once there, they are split up. The Grandparents and toddler are murdered. The twin girls are taken by SS Officer Dr. Josef Mengele, the Camp doctor, as a special interest project, as well as Simon (the son) because of his musical talents. Everyone else is put to work. Dr. Mengele was know for doing "scientific experiments" on pregnant women, twins and other special people.
Through a series of events, Samson is now forced to box on Saturday nights for Nazi entertainment. The winner of the fight get extra food and the loser goes to the gas chambers. And so he fights. Encouraged by fellow prisoners, his brother and Kolbe, a monk, fight after fight, Samson wins. He gives his extra rations to his family members and keeps working at the camp during the day. During this time, Dr. Mengele is performing his experiments on Samson's family, basically torturing them to death. Every fight he is fighting for the freedom of his family.
I wont give the end of the story, that wouldn't be fair :) Just knowing that this really happened makes this a hard book to read but all worth it, and I think that being educated on the Holocaust is important and vital to all human beings. I am sadden by the events described in this book but I am happy to have read it. This book is beautifully written and has tons of foot notes with all the little things you would wonder. You should also check out the short movie, starring Shawn Hoffman. You can find it on Youtube.