Author: Eda Shapiro & Rick Kardonne
Number of pages: 136
ISBN: 13 978-965-229-410-4
Date of publication: January 2008
5 stars: One everybody should read
“I first saw Anne Frank when she was only four years old, in March 1934…. Even in those early minutes of our acquaintance I was struck by her large, dark brown eyes; those probing, searching, questioning eyes.”(pg 34) So said Victor Kugler of his first meeting of Anne Frank.
I had doubts about this book. I knew that “The Diary of Anne Frank”was published by her father in order to get her story out there. However, not knowing anything about Victor Kugler, I was afraid that this was yet another person trying to make money by telling their story. I was relieved that this was not the case. My fears about this book were set to rest after reading the preface. Victor Kugler told his story to Eda Shapiro from 1969-1973, and later died in 1980. After Shapiro passed away, her husband Iriving Naftolin had Kugler’s memoirs published with the help of Rick Kardonne.
To many, the name Victor Kugler may be unfamiliar. Those who have read “The Diary of Anne Frank”will recall Mr. Kraler being the man who hid the Frank family and their companions. Kraler and Kugler are one and the same. It was hard to read this book knowing that Kugler’s hiding place would eventually be discovered, and what would happen to the Franks.
“Again and again they tried to movie it but they failed. Finally, they found the hook that kept it in its place. The hook was unfastened and they moved the bookcase. The door leading to the staircase and rooms above was now exposed.
My heart sank.
The moment I had been dreading for two years had now arrived.
I realized the object of this search. I knew we had been betrayed. The secret had been revealed and our plans had failed. The eight people in the Secret Annex were now doomed. A terrible fate awaited them all.” (pg 52)
7006. That was the number that was sewn onto Kugler’s jacket in the concentration camp he was sent to after the Franks were discovered. From there he traveled to two other concentration camps before amazingly escaping on a bicycle while his group was attacked by British Spitfires. He credits his survival to many who helped him on his travels, and he remembered them all. Among them were farmers who sheltered him and gave him clothing, a woman who warned him about a dangerous road, and a boy who directed him.
There were a few things I was disappointed in after reading this book, but there weren’t many. One was the length. I found it entirely too short. Added to that, there are sections that aren’t really Victor Kugler’s story. I wanted to read about Kugler, and how he helped the Frank family. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d care to read any more after the Secret Annex was discovered, but I stuck with it and found I couldn’t turn away from Kugler’s experiences in the concentration camp. I found them both sickening and alarming, but how could anyone feel differently? I do admit that I found the later sections, after Kugler’s move to Canda, a bit boring since Kugler was no longer in the thick of things. Overall, this was a very moving book. Like Anne Frank, Kugler’s story should never be forgotten.
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