But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens
The Last Word Review
Critically acclaimed memoir of a Holocaust survivor. Utterly devastating first-hand account. A book that must be read
Once in a while a book comes along that leaves you totally speechless and will make you think about your own existence.
But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens is a book that has become an international best-seller and deserves to be read by everyone for here is a devastating first-hand account of surviving the Holocaust.
Marceline Loridan-Ivens was only 15 when she along with her father was arrested in their home in France and sent to Auschwitz. Only Marceline would survive.
Although only 112 pages in length this is an astonishing memoir of such incredible testimony that is so beautifully written yet will touch your inner most soul when you have read it. But You Did Not Come Back is a letter written as a letter from Marceline to her father both were separated within the camp her father was sent to Auschwitz and Marceline to Birkenau they were so very close in proximity yet they might have been separated by hundreds of miles because in the year she spent in the death camp she saw her father only briefly twice.
This is a deeply personal letter of love to the father she adored yet she has a story to tell and wants the world to share in this letter. She loved her father so much that one quote stands out in the book ‘I was happy to be deported with you’ he open letter is beautiful in its own way even poetic.
Her father managed to persuade an electrician to smuggle a short note to Marceline, although the letter was lost she has not forgot this note that at the time brought hope in a time of total despair when you never knew if it was going to survive the day.
But You Did Not Come Back is a letter of survival, even though she survived Birkenau the memories still remain and yet both her brother and sister took their own lives because of the death camps that haunted them affected so much yet they were never in Auschwitz. Marceline survived and was reunited with her mother and remaining family she could not relate her experiences with anyone and this makes for painful reading as she tries to come to terms that her much loved father was never to come home. Her mother unable to grasp her experiences wants Marceline to leave her memories to the past and move on in her life. Marceline is totally alone and has to deal with the memories in her own way her recollections of the year in Birkenau are startling especially when she comes face to face with Josef Mengele himself and the guilt she feels as a survivor.
But You Did Not Come Back is beautifully written and translated and is an important testimony of the horrors of the death camps that was Auschwitz and Birkenau. A story I for one will never forget.
Thank you to Faber & Faber for a review copy.
But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens and is published by Faber and Faber and available from all good bookshops.