PHOTO CREDIT: Cpl Donald R. Ornitz, US Army. Public Doman. Source.
“Cut to a peaceful Austrian landscape near Linz. Gently rolling green hills. And on top of one of the hills, like a toy castle, lies the former concentration camp of Mauthausen, now a museum. It looks harmless, like a miniature model of something much larger.”1
This isn’t your typical Holocaust story. An Exclusive Love is told from the perspective of a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors while she attempts to come to terms with her grandparents’ dual suicide over forty years after the war ended. As an adult, Johanna Adorján visits Mauthausen, the camp where her grandfather was held prisoner, to understand more about his past that he strived to keep secret. The writer uses her imagination to put the pieces together, both about her grandparents’ history and the couple’s final day together.
Mauthausen was one of the largest concentration camps in the German-controlled part of Europe. Running from August 1938 until May 1945 when it was liberated by the Americans, it was considered a category III camp, the most severe classification for a concentration camp. Close to 200,000 prisoners passed through the camp system, and it is estimated that almost 95,000 died there, although no official death count exists. Mauthausen was officially opened as a museum in 1975.
1 Adorján, Johanna. An Exclusive Love. Trans. Anthea Bell. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 7. Print.
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