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Boy 30529: A Memoir

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Anyone who survived the extermination camps must have an untypical story to tell. The typical camp story of the millions ended in death ... We, the few who survived the war and the majority who perished in the camps, did not use and would not have understood terms such as 'holocaust' or 'death march.' These were coined later, by outsiders. In 1939 twelve-year-old Felix Wein Anyone who survived the extermination camps must have an untypical story to tell. The typical camp story of the millions ended in death ... We, the few who survived the war and the majority who perished in the camps, did not use and would not have understood terms such as 'holocaust' or 'death march.' These were coined later, by outsiders. In 1939 twelve-year-old Felix Weinberg fell into the hands of the Nazis. Imprisoned for most of his teenage life, Felix survived five concentration camps, including Terezin, Auschwitz, and Birkenau, barely surviving the Death March from Blechhammer in 1945. After losing his mother and brother in the camps, he was liberated at Buchenwald and eventually reunited at seventeen with his father in Britain, where they built a new life together. Boy 30529 is an extraordinary memoir of the Holocaust, as well as a moving meditation on the nature of memory.


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Anyone who survived the extermination camps must have an untypical story to tell. The typical camp story of the millions ended in death ... We, the few who survived the war and the majority who perished in the camps, did not use and would not have understood terms such as 'holocaust' or 'death march.' These were coined later, by outsiders. In 1939 twelve-year-old Felix Wein Anyone who survived the extermination camps must have an untypical story to tell. The typical camp story of the millions ended in death ... We, the few who survived the war and the majority who perished in the camps, did not use and would not have understood terms such as 'holocaust' or 'death march.' These were coined later, by outsiders. In 1939 twelve-year-old Felix Weinberg fell into the hands of the Nazis. Imprisoned for most of his teenage life, Felix survived five concentration camps, including Terezin, Auschwitz, and Birkenau, barely surviving the Death March from Blechhammer in 1945. After losing his mother and brother in the camps, he was liberated at Buchenwald and eventually reunited at seventeen with his father in Britain, where they built a new life together. Boy 30529 is an extraordinary memoir of the Holocaust, as well as a moving meditation on the nature of memory.

30 review for Boy 30529: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

    What sets this apart from other Holocaust memoirs is how the author, who became a renowned physicist, makes reference to scientific terms and uses science throughout the book; for example, trying to guess what chemicals were in the camp soup. It's quite charming actually. I also appreciated how the book ended. Some Holocaust memoirs end at liberation, leaving me frustrated as to what happened to the rest of the writer's life. Some go waaaaay too far into post-liberation years and become boring. I What sets this apart from other Holocaust memoirs is how the author, who became a renowned physicist, makes reference to scientific terms and uses science throughout the book; for example, trying to guess what chemicals were in the camp soup. It's quite charming actually. I also appreciated how the book ended. Some Holocaust memoirs end at liberation, leaving me frustrated as to what happened to the rest of the writer's life. Some go waaaaay too far into post-liberation years and become boring. I thought Weinberg struck just the right balance here. Well, this is another blow against the stereotype that scientists are bad writers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan Rappaport

    Excellent holocaust story about a teen boy who survived the camps. He became a physicist and his insights about survival are fascinating. He talks about how chaotic it was between the time of liberation and the actual institution of government. He just died in December 2012. Glad he wrote the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christine Fay

    As Felix writes, “. . . the episode helps to explain why I am thankful, but never proud, to have survived the camps. In my view, we, the survivors, are all somewhat compromised. We did not sacrifice our lives so that others might perhaps stand a slightly better chance of living. As it is, survival feels less like a heroic act than like having won a lottery against truly astronomical odds. It is easy to fantasize that there must have been some profound underlying reason for one’s survival, but in As Felix writes, “. . . the episode helps to explain why I am thankful, but never proud, to have survived the camps. In my view, we, the survivors, are all somewhat compromised. We did not sacrifice our lives so that others might perhaps stand a slightly better chance of living. As it is, survival feels less like a heroic act than like having won a lottery against truly astronomical odds. It is easy to fantasize that there must have been some profound underlying reason for one’s survival, but in the end it was probably just a combination of chance and an aptitude for self-preservation” (106). This memoir can be read in 1-2 sittings; it’s a straightforward account of his experiences as a young Czechoslovakian boy whose family was compromised during the holocaust. Having gone on to accomplish great things in the world of Physics, this memoir chronicles his life as he was forced out of formal education and into the death camps as a laborer. His survival is miraculous, and what’s truly interesting about this story is that he undertook the writing of it at the age of 82. I guess after 65 years of trying to forget what happened, it did him good to purge his memory of the time by putting it to paper. An easy and accessible read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Smith

    I different perspective given by a Holocaust survivor, with a focus on the feelings rather than the events, which we all know the facts about already. This memoir is poignant and well written with a touch of dark humor here and there.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Virpi Leinonen

    It's funny how you can easily tell that he isn't a writer, but a physicist. But it's still very good. He tells things how he remembers, very analytically and honestly. It fits the subject perfectly. I'm glad he got to share this before his passing. It's funny how you can easily tell that he isn't a writer, but a physicist. But it's still very good. He tells things how he remembers, very analytically and honestly. It fits the subject perfectly. I'm glad he got to share this before his passing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I am kicking myself for not writing down some of my favorite quotes from this book before I returned it to the library. Weinberg has such a distinct, fresh writing style, which is interesting considering you'd think it'd be exactly the opposite based on stereotypes about physicists. He shared unique details about his life before the war, in the ghettos, and then throughout the three concentration camps he was in. One of the details I hadn't really considered in camp life was the sleep deprivatio I am kicking myself for not writing down some of my favorite quotes from this book before I returned it to the library. Weinberg has such a distinct, fresh writing style, which is interesting considering you'd think it'd be exactly the opposite based on stereotypes about physicists. He shared unique details about his life before the war, in the ghettos, and then throughout the three concentration camps he was in. One of the details I hadn't really considered in camp life was the sleep deprivation that he and other prisoners experienced, as they were in a labor camp and forced to rise very early for roll calls, then sleep in very cramped positions in their bunks after hard labor on little food. Sometimes the story could be a bit disjointed or hard to follow, but I think in a way that was a product of his memories being fragmented rather than only his writing ability (which he explains by discussing how part of his survival strategy was to see without seeing and hear without hearing...). His frank assessment of how he is always glad that he survived but never proud was sobering and thought-provoking in his recognition of the the myriad of small choices he made each day that contributed to his own survival while possibly being to the detriment of another's. It was so sad to read that he wasn't able to fully finish this book before he died... but I'm glad that he took this project upon himself to share his experiences in such a candid, loving, and memorable way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    M

    very well written memoir of Felix Weinberg's experience. He writes about his life during the war and how he felt, why he waited to write and how about his feelings. He is very expressive. very well written memoir of Felix Weinberg's experience. He writes about his life during the war and how he felt, why he waited to write and how about his feelings. He is very expressive.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ilo.reads

    Anyone who survive exterminations camps must have an untypical story to tell. Excellent holocaust story! This book is about a child who at the age of twelve who lost everything (hope, love, home and family).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    This is a short book telling the story of Felix Weinberg's experiences in not one but five concentration camps, the death march he was forced to walk and his liberation and reunion with his father at age 17. It's an interesting story told by Felix but at the same time told with a certain detachment. He doesn't dwell on horrific instances very much but when he relates a particular memory it is that much more poignant and awful simply because it's told in such a matter of fact way. I often go throug This is a short book telling the story of Felix Weinberg's experiences in not one but five concentration camps, the death march he was forced to walk and his liberation and reunion with his father at age 17. It's an interesting story told by Felix but at the same time told with a certain detachment. He doesn't dwell on horrific instances very much but when he relates a particular memory it is that much more poignant and awful simply because it's told in such a matter of fact way. I often go through spurts of holocaust related reading and as a result I've read many, many books told by many, many survivors. This one now stands out, in part, because of Felix's views on the experience and the memoirs of it. "Anyone who survived the exterminations camps must have an untypical story to tell. The typical camp story of the millions ended in death ... We, the few who survived the war and the majority who perished in the camps, did not use and would not have understood terms such as 'holocaust' or 'death march.' These were coined later, by outsiders."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becki Basley

    I have to say you could tell right away that this book was written by someone very reluctant to tell their story. He presents an interesting point of view often letting the scientist he is show through. He also is the second Holocaust survivor I have read who does not approve of the tourist cleansing of the concentration camps. He felt specifically that lime should have been poured on the ground to keep it as grassless as it was when he was an inmate there. Its really understandable why he feels I have to say you could tell right away that this book was written by someone very reluctant to tell their story. He presents an interesting point of view often letting the scientist he is show through. He also is the second Holocaust survivor I have read who does not approve of the tourist cleansing of the concentration camps. He felt specifically that lime should have been poured on the ground to keep it as grassless as it was when he was an inmate there. Its really understandable why he feels the way he does. He also covers the end of the war and how after he was reunited with his father, they did not talk about what had happened. That he hid from the parts of his life that were bad and refused to remember them. He went on to be a very well knowned physicist and it's interesting to see how his life led him to that career choice. It's definitely a new perspective on what I have read previously so I would recommend it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    3-4 star. Definitely a different take on the Holocaust. This autobiography is about a teenager who survives multiple camps, marches, etc... He did not want that part of his life to define him and I think that comes out a bit in the generally unemotional telling of the story. To survive he turned a blind eye at the time. And yet there were parts that steamed with life and emotions. This book left me pondering how different personalities react to similar circumstances. And how our life views are a 3-4 star. Definitely a different take on the Holocaust. This autobiography is about a teenager who survives multiple camps, marches, etc... He did not want that part of his life to define him and I think that comes out a bit in the generally unemotional telling of the story. To survive he turned a blind eye at the time. And yet there were parts that steamed with life and emotions. This book left me pondering how different personalities react to similar circumstances. And how our life views are affecting by our childhoods. So glad my kids can be kids...there is a big part of loving life and having self-confidence to face our trials that is built into us at a young age. Oh, also wanted to add that it was a very fast short read. Less than 170 small pages.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ani Ivanova

    I haven't read much of this kind of books, although I love real stories narrated, not just fiction. In comparison with others I have read, this one is almost the best, but only as regarding the authenticity which I appreciate the most. I must say that everytime I expect something more cruel, extreme, disturbing, more details and more than we all know from general knowledge about Holocaust, because those are emotions I seek and look for in this genre and promptly I find myself in a state of ''I ha I haven't read much of this kind of books, although I love real stories narrated, not just fiction. In comparison with others I have read, this one is almost the best, but only as regarding the authenticity which I appreciate the most. I must say that everytime I expect something more cruel, extreme, disturbing, more details and more than we all know from general knowledge about Holocaust, because those are emotions I seek and look for in this genre and promptly I find myself in a state of ''I haven't had enough and need to know more about it''. This one was not an exception. The compensation for which I give 5 stars, is that I felt the story real also due to the photographs included in the book and partly because we know the writer was already old when he wrote the memoires.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Felix Weinberg takes us from his hometown in Aussig, Bohemia through his time in the concentration camps of Terezin, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Blechammer, and Buchenwald between the ages of 12 and 18. He wrote this shortly before his death in 2012. His words make his life come into view for us with a freshness that keeps this from being just another book. When his memory fails and seems to come from somewhere else, he tells us. He wants his story to be truthful and as accurate as possible. He survived Felix Weinberg takes us from his hometown in Aussig, Bohemia through his time in the concentration camps of Terezin, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Blechammer, and Buchenwald between the ages of 12 and 18. He wrote this shortly before his death in 2012. His words make his life come into view for us with a freshness that keeps this from being just another book. When his memory fails and seems to come from somewhere else, he tells us. He wants his story to be truthful and as accurate as possible. He survived to go to England where he became the first professor of Combustion Physics at Imperial College and a world-renowned physicist. Very easy to read and very interesting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane Adams

    A view of the Holocaust we don't often get, and won't be getting more of, as the youngest survivors are in their 90s. A man tells the story of his life before, experiences in several camps during, what happened when the camps were liberated, and what his life was like after. Really nice to read a story of the time that has a relatively happy ending. A view of the Holocaust we don't often get, and won't be getting more of, as the youngest survivors are in their 90s. A man tells the story of his life before, experiences in several camps during, what happened when the camps were liberated, and what his life was like after. Really nice to read a story of the time that has a relatively happy ending.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beate

    A short, concise personal story of a boy's survival through the 2nd world war. The author passed before finishing this book, so there is no official "ending", however, it allows readers to understand (at least a little), the atrocities of the war. A story of survival and ultimately success in life. A short, concise personal story of a boy's survival through the 2nd world war. The author passed before finishing this book, so there is no official "ending", however, it allows readers to understand (at least a little), the atrocities of the war. A story of survival and ultimately success in life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Candy

    I have read several biographies of Holocaust survivors especially since I took an entire class on the subject in college. I have yet to come across someone as optimistic as Weinberg. Excellent read! Highly recommend this book

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Excellent read. I enjoyed hearing the authors story from start to finish. You were able to learn about his childhood before the war, during the war, and after liberation. It was nice knowing what happened in his later years and not be left guessing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Shepherd

    This brief book contains volumes of information. The idyllic remembered beauty of life before the war violently contrasts with the horror of war and is shatteringly heartbreaking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

    Good. Very enlightening as to what went on in the camps and how some managed to survive.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shikha

    One of best recounts of holocaust experience.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Ce

    I don't know if "enjoy" is the right word considering the subject matter, but for lack of a better one, I did enjoy this book. I thought it was different than other Holocaust survivor books I've read. Even though the feel of the book was (IMO) very analytical - he wrote more about his feelings, his coping and defense mechanisms (with bits of dark humor thrown in here and there) during these events than I've read in other books, which seem to focus on events. A couple of my favorite passages: "Histo I don't know if "enjoy" is the right word considering the subject matter, but for lack of a better one, I did enjoy this book. I thought it was different than other Holocaust survivor books I've read. Even though the feel of the book was (IMO) very analytical - he wrote more about his feelings, his coping and defense mechanisms (with bits of dark humor thrown in here and there) during these events than I've read in other books, which seem to focus on events. A couple of my favorite passages: "History is necessarily written by the survivors, but at its core it is the story of the victims. It is always liable to distortion because anyone who survived the extermination camps must have an untypical story to tell. The typical camp history of the millions ended in death, and could therefore never be told in the first person" "In the camps I tried to acquire the ability to look without seeing, listen without hearing and smell without taking in what was around me. I cultivated a sense of self-induced anemia. I feared that being made to look at hangings, seeing piles of corpses on a daily basis would somehow contaminate my mind permanently. To quote George Bernard Shaw from Man and Superman 'Better keep yourself clean and bright for you are the window through which you must see the world" "Although I did not cause serious hurt, the episode helps to explain why I am thankful, but never proud, to have survived the camps. In my view, we, the survivors, ae all somewhat compromised. We did not sacrifice our lives so that mothers might perhaps stand a slightly better chance of living. As it is, survival feels less like a heroic act than like having won a lottery against truly astronomic odds. It is easy to fantasise that there must have been some profound underlying reason for one's survival, but i the end it was probably just a combinations of chance and an aptitude for self-preservation"

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Rudge

    I'm so pleased that I picked up this book, on a whim. Felix Weinberg (reluctantly) relates his history of growing up in Czechoslovakia in a loving family, his journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau, his experiences there and in other camps and finally as a survivor of Nazi concentration camp conditions. It also tells of his post-war life in England and his successful career as an eminent and much-decorated physicist. It is not a long book (166 pages) but it says all it needs to succinctly and factually. I'm so pleased that I picked up this book, on a whim. Felix Weinberg (reluctantly) relates his history of growing up in Czechoslovakia in a loving family, his journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau, his experiences there and in other camps and finally as a survivor of Nazi concentration camp conditions. It also tells of his post-war life in England and his successful career as an eminent and much-decorated physicist. It is not a long book (166 pages) but it says all it needs to succinctly and factually. It is beautifully written and, whilst it is very moving, it is never unnecessarily sentimental and is definitely not a "poor me" kind of book. Felix Weinberg was obviously a very special and yet very "ordinary" person who had very firm views on religion and other topics but he expressed them unassumingly, wisely and often with self-deprecating humour. This should be included in the school literature curriculum!

  23. 4 out of 5

    sheryl

    What an excellent book by a brilliant man. I've probably read a hundred nazi era memoirs. They all have some unique perspective on this unbelievable time in history. Weinberg's is an especially good read because of his humility, intelligence, a certain winning innocence and wit. Forced to leave school at 12, he had no schooling until after the war at 17 when he reunited with his father in England and yet he excelled (tho not without trials) and became a British physicist with many accolades. As What an excellent book by a brilliant man. I've probably read a hundred nazi era memoirs. They all have some unique perspective on this unbelievable time in history. Weinberg's is an especially good read because of his humility, intelligence, a certain winning innocence and wit. Forced to leave school at 12, he had no schooling until after the war at 17 when he reunited with his father in England and yet he excelled (tho not without trials) and became a British physicist with many accolades. As I find in many of these accounts, he never discussed what he had endured even with his own father (who had escaped the war), though he lost his mother and brother and other family. He was hesitant even to write this but it's certainly important that after 50 years, he did. I highly recommend, especially considering our present day global issues.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Scarcella

    What an extraordinary, moving, and genuine memoir he wrote just like Elie Wiesel which I’ve enjoyed reading this book. Both men have survived on a different point of life. I’m surprised for him to able to share his story before the war, during the camp and after the war. It is easy to see that though he remembers life in the camps with a terrible clarity, he has no wish to dwell on it. Felix survived five concentration camps, including Terezin, Auschwitz, and Birkenau, barely surviving the Death What an extraordinary, moving, and genuine memoir he wrote just like Elie Wiesel which I’ve enjoyed reading this book. Both men have survived on a different point of life. I’m surprised for him to able to share his story before the war, during the camp and after the war. It is easy to see that though he remembers life in the camps with a terrible clarity, he has no wish to dwell on it. Felix survived five concentration camps, including Terezin, Auschwitz, and Birkenau, barely surviving the Death March from Blechhammer in 1945. After losing his mother and brother in the camps, he was liberated at Buchenwald and eventually reunited at seventeen with his father in Britain, where they built a new life together. I’m glad he wrote the book two years later before he died. He promised his mother that he would tell his story and he did.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Truly worthwhile read for anyone looking to educate themselves on the particulars of the holocaust, from the experience of a teenager. Although he wrote his memoirs later in life, the accuracy and poignancy of the authors recollections make the reader believe he is describing current events. The style of writing is frank and deliberate, omitting nothing of the gruesome details of the camps and death marches, but has odd moments of tongue in cheek humor, making this read unique and also perfectly Truly worthwhile read for anyone looking to educate themselves on the particulars of the holocaust, from the experience of a teenager. Although he wrote his memoirs later in life, the accuracy and poignancy of the authors recollections make the reader believe he is describing current events. The style of writing is frank and deliberate, omitting nothing of the gruesome details of the camps and death marches, but has odd moments of tongue in cheek humor, making this read unique and also perfectly paced. Highly recommend, especially for those looking to break their teeth on a novel not too graphic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Varapanyo Bhikkhu

    Moving — and genuine — Holocaust memoir ... Sadly, Professor Weinberg, who taught for many years at Imperial College in London, died before his book came out in April, but he has left not only a powerful piece of documentary record but also a well-aimed blast at unscrupulous ‘survivors’ and their editors. I have always tended to avoid Holocaust literature,’ he wrote, ‘and find some of the recent fictional accounts masquerading as true stories profoundly disturbing. https://codoh.com/library/docume Moving — and genuine — Holocaust memoir ... Sadly, Professor Weinberg, who taught for many years at Imperial College in London, died before his book came out in April, but he has left not only a powerful piece of documentary record but also a well-aimed blast at unscrupulous ‘survivors’ and their editors. I have always tended to avoid Holocaust literature,’ he wrote, ‘and find some of the recent fictional accounts masquerading as true stories profoundly disturbing. https://codoh.com/library/document/50...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anne Vandenbrink

    Felix spent 5 years in different camps from the age of 12 to 17. There were situations that helped him survive. He was the one that ladled the morning coffee and soup and he ate last. Giving him the more sugared morning drink and more nutritious dregs of soup. His job of building railroads was overseen by inmates themselves who let everyone sneak catnaps during the day. Most important, and I think because of his privileged circumstances, he kept a positive outlook which also helped him cope. But Felix spent 5 years in different camps from the age of 12 to 17. There were situations that helped him survive. He was the one that ladled the morning coffee and soup and he ate last. Giving him the more sugared morning drink and more nutritious dregs of soup. His job of building railroads was overseen by inmates themselves who let everyone sneak catnaps during the day. Most important, and I think because of his privileged circumstances, he kept a positive outlook which also helped him cope. But I believe this book is not a reflection of what the masses endured. Hence the two stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yoursexylibrarian

    This Holocaust memoir was written by a physicist because a woman convinced him that his children and grandchildren should know what happened to him as a Jewish boy growing up in Czechoslovakia during Hitler's rise to power. I believe being a physicist is what allowed him to write from a different perspective than the usual Holocaust memoir. Weinberg covers before, during, and after the war along with reuniting with his father, the only remaining member of his immediate family. This Holocaust memoir was written by a physicist because a woman convinced him that his children and grandchildren should know what happened to him as a Jewish boy growing up in Czechoslovakia during Hitler's rise to power. I believe being a physicist is what allowed him to write from a different perspective than the usual Holocaust memoir. Weinberg covers before, during, and after the war along with reuniting with his father, the only remaining member of his immediate family.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wilde Sky

    This book contains an account of a man’s Holocaust survival (as a teenager). This book was short and didn’t go into a lot of depth about the time in the camps, but I found it moving and thought provoking. The scientific references appealed to me. The book was an easy (if harrowing) read and took around two hours to complete.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa-Jaine

    An incredibly moving book. I knew bits and pieces about the holocaust but felt fairly ignorant about certain things. I never realised ghettos were created and the poor living conditions created....

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