Monday, 12 May 2008
The Kommandant's Girl
The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff, follows the story of a Jewish girl Emma, who is recently married and living in Krakow. With the German occupation of Poland, her husband Jacob goes into hiding in the forest with the Resistance. Emma follows her parent to the ghetto, and then is given a new identity by the Resistance. She assumes the name of Anna from Gdansk, and Polish Catholic relative of Jacob's aunt by marriage, Krysia. Krysia is Catholic, and puts her life on the line, by allowing Emma/Anna and a small boy from the ghetto stay with her. Anna draws the attention of the Kommandant, who asks her to be his assistant. He falls in love with Anna, which puts her in an interesting, precarious and morally difficult position. The Resistance could use her position close to the Kommandant to get access to information vital in their efforts, and the closer Anna is to the Kommandant, the more likely she is to be able to come across information to help them, and her husband.
It is a story of survival. Emma/Anna will put everything on the line to ensure the survival of those she loves, and befriends. She becomes someone that she never thought that she would be, and finds a strength and independence she didn't know she had. Krysia is one of the Polish people that could not just sit by and watch the Jewish people go under. But it is at a personal cost as well. The Kommandant himself is also an intriguing character. There is more to his story, and it makes him a character that you do feel sympathy for. And you can't really say that much about Nazi's!
Jenoff's followup book, The Diplomat's Wife, is about Marta, one of the character's in The Kommandant's Girl, who is a member of the Resistence. I will be interested to read this one too, and see what life held for her after the war.