The Last Survivor
Legacies of Dachau
By Timothy W. Ryback
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679758266, 208pp.)
Publication Date: November 14, 2000
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In The Last Survivor, journalist Timothy Ryback explores the surprising--and often disturbing--ways the citizens of Dachau go about their lives in a city the rest of us associate with gas chambers and mass graves. A grandmother recalls the echo of wooden shoes on cobblestone, the clip-clop of inmates marched from boxcars to barracks under the cover of night. A mother-to-be opts to deliver in a neighboring town, so that her child's birth certificate will not be stamped DACHAU. An "SS baby," now middle-aged, wonders about the father he never knew. And should you visit Dachau, you will meet Martin Zaidenstadt, an 87 year-old who accosts tourists with a first-hand account of the camp before its liberation in 1945. Beautifully written, compassionate, wise, The Last Survivor takes us to a place that bears the mark of Cain--and a people unwilling to be defined by the past, yet painfully unable to forget.
Timothy Ryback lives in Austria.
"Elegantly written without ever neglecting the magnitude of horror that underlies every gesture, breath and nuance in Dachau." --The New York Times Book Review
"A brilliantly written tone poem in which identities and facts slip and slide into the abyss of memory." --The Baltimore Sun
"Ryback's insights come in haunting prose: heading down a long gravel-path at Dachau is 'like walking on crushed brittle bones.'" --Detroit Free-Press