Both the Dutch as well as English e-book, hardcover and paperback editions received outstanding reviews from the very first day of publication:
‘The war did not end in 1945 when the victims of the Holocaust were released from the concentration camps or came out of their hiding places. Their children, the second generation, suffered as well in families that were trying but not able to function normally, as there was always fear, sadness and a missing of so many relatives glooming in the background. The survivors ‘will never sleep in peace’ for ‘the ones who didn’t make it are still around, they are still alive’. But the tragedy continues. Also the children and even the grandchildren of the survivors had to cope with the consequences of this incomparable genocide. Outsiders do not know much about this trans-generational phenomenon. They do not notice it when meeting Jews from Europe. But who gets to know these children – actually they have passed their midlife – more intimately, notices that their lives are different. The Dutch journalist Simon Hammelburg has collected the memories of 1200 survivors and their offspring. The main figure loses his wife and travels to places where the couple has been happy before. He encounters his friends from the Zionist youth movement and together they share their memories of their difficult youth. Simon Hammelburg writes with a mixture of compassion and respect but also with humor, edged with a tear. He introduces the reader to a world of love and sorrow, of concern and loneliness. Very impressive.’ – Prof. Dr. Klaas Smelik, director of the Etty Hillesum Research Center.
‘The Holocaust is perhaps my life’s longest and most profound obsession. The sheer magnitude of it, its horrid design, its industrial execution, but most of all its roots and origins combined with its ongoing deep penetration of life today make it a subject I will always talk about. Not to mention the suffering… the endless suffering… . I read this book when I had just returned from walking the grounds of Majdanek Concentration Camp, making the read all the more tangible. Simon Hammelburg has chosen to tell of this reality in the most gripping way: The real life experiences of real people, told in the flow and context of ordinary day to day life and drudgery. Sharing how the Holocaust affects its victims and the children of victims and the childrens’ children of victims today, as they sleep, as they wake, as they go to work, as they meet with friends, as they interact with Police or other authorities, as they live their ordinary lives. What makes this book so very confronting is that the honest reader will recognize some of the broken psychology in their own hearts. Many a time reading this book I was forced to reflect on my love for my wife, my care for my children, my involvement in my neighbors’ lives, my contribution at the workplace. The Holocaust cut deep wounds in the personalities and make ups of its victims. But those wounds are nevertheless still human and to a much lesser extend ordinary life is capable of cutting such wounds into each of our hearts, and Hammelburg’s account – in that sense – holds a mirror right in front of our own face. The honest and transparency with which Hammelburg writes has rarely been encountered by me. With complete vulnerability and equally complete avoidance of deliberate sensationalism he simply writes and writes, allowing us a truly honest look into his soul and the souls of those who shared their experiences with him. Simon Hammelburg has chosen to tell of this reality in the most gripping way. His book, for me, holds a #1 place in Holocaust literature. It ranks for me at par with giants like The Holocaust Chronicle, Eliezer Wiesel’s ‘Night’, and the much lesser known ‘The Auschwitz Volunteer’ by Witold Pilecki. Deeply grateful to Simon Hammelburg for granting us these memories.’ – Hans J.A. Dekkers, Shoah literature expert.
‘No genocide in modern history has been subjected to so much scrutiny as the Holocaust, the systematic slaughter of six million European Jews by the Nazi regime. We know how this horrifying chapter of European history unfolded and we have tried to find insights into almost every aspect of the actual killing. We understand how discrimination, segregation, dehumanization and a tightly organized killing machine function, and ample research has been done on the social, the political, the ethical, the medical and the psychological effects of the Holocaust. One of the groups which has been the focus of growing interest in recent years is the so-called second generation. This is the generation which did not experience the war, yet which was raised in the appalling aftermath of the Holocaust by often heavily traumatized survivors of the war. In this novel, Simon Hammelburg shows how dramatic those effects can be and how difficult it was, and often still is for the last survivors and for their children to lead a more or less normal life after the Holocaust. His preference for a fictional form is a choice I heartily applaud. It is precisely in the form of a novel that the profound impact of the Holocaust on so many people’s lives can best be portrayed.’ – Prof. Dr. Emile Schrijver, general director Jewish Cultural Quarter (incl. National Holocaust Museum).
‘This is one of those captivating “tough-to-read” books in how the subject matter is gut-wrenching and tugs at your heart. Well written with a style that gives the reader an inside look on how the Holocaust has affected those long after the horrific events took place. I was thoroughly mesmerized by it and would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about the Holocaust as this offers a different perspective. Well done.’ – Dennis Waller
‘Is it possible to create a smile on the reader’s face when writing about the horrors of the Holocaust? Simon Hammelburg managed in his insinuatingly and touching novel Broken on the inside – The war never ended about the memories of 1200 survivors and their children. His pen is filled with a mixture of compassion & respect and humor, edged with a tear. The war didn’t end in 1945 when the victims of the occupation in Europe & Asia were released. The following generations suffered as well in families that were trying but not able to function normally, as there was always fear ‘that it might happen again’, sadness and a missing of so many relatives in the background. The survivors ‘will never sleep in peace’ for ‘the ones who didn’t make it are still around, like they are still alive but you can’t reach them’. Reading this novel will offer you facts you didn’t know about the WW II and psychological thoughts about life & human relationships you need to share. A masterpiece that belongs in everyone’s library.’ – Mieke Verwoerd
‘The narrator is a middle-aged Dutch businessman whose wife is, very early on, killed in a car crash. Much of what he tells us is deeply disturbing. When his parents, both Holocaust survivors, met in 1945 at a Red Cross office “neither of them found a single person who escaped the Nazis madness”, and they remain deeply damaged by their wartime experience. The mother is an astonishing creation: mad, violent, predatory. “From early childhood,” the narrator relates, “my mother had been vomiting her distorted memories over us… She was an hysterical insatiable woman with severe mood changes.” As for the title, the narrator is one of many characters “broken on the inside” and the book deals with the psychological aftermath of the survivors and their offspring. There are characters, each with a story to tell of survival and trauma. One, Dave, tells how his father, a survivor from Auschwitz, “often locked himself in the bathroom. He just sat there for lengthy periods of time, in the dark. Sometimes we could hear him cry.” The home Dave describes is typical: “It was a house full of anxiety… Anxiety, fear and nervousness together formed a package of transmittable disease. A violent, deadly virus.’ – Jewish Chronicle
Here are some excerpts from former reviews:
‘Compelling stories, which force you to turn every page. Historic document.’ – Remco
‘This novel provides a window into the Holocaust survivors that few others have captured.’ – V.M. Ricks
‘[…] should be read by all second generation people […] Then they should give it to their kids, familiy and friends. It may explain some of the tragedies happened in their lives, and which may still happen in some. It will clear the air and bring a lot of understanding…’ – Fanny
‘Ich möchte das Buch jedem ans Herz legen, der an einem Zeitzeugnis über diesen schrecklichen Teil der jüngeren Geschichte interessiert ist.’ – Viktor Jauernig
‘Honest and poignant read from start to finish. A book that will speak to all ages, it’s a must!’ – Marjol Flore
‘Required reading for everyone. […] If there were more stars, this book would deserve them.’ – Jody
‘A unique and moving book written with passion and knowledge. […] I would definately recommend it.’ – Nicholas Novak
‘The book presents the difference between television and the theatre, it brings life and death into the subject matter so that it breathes. Frankly, I believe that there will be a film and possibly sequels from this book.’ – Jewish Federation Los Angeles
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