What happened to the Jews in the Second World War is one of those terrible things that becomes all too easily statistics on a history book page with a black and white image or two to try and illustrate the horror. Even on a trip to one of the camps that stands as a memorial it is all too easy to step back from the glass cases full of shoes and suit cases and feel comfortable in your late twenty first century skin.
Chapters 45 – 48 in part two of Life and Fate offer a chilling and moving account of death in a gas chamber. You finish reading those chapters with tears just behind the eyes but with your heart beating with anger at what happened and you start to realise how easy it all was and why these things should never be forgotten because they might happen again.
Bullet points between pages 500 – 560
* Something seems to have happened to Krymov and he seems to be out of favour with most people until he meets an old friend of the love of his life who he seems to be trying to forget
* Then there is the story of the Jews arriving at the camp and going through the gas chamber experience with the tension being built up as they are sorted between those with a value – doctors and dentists - and those who are going to be killed
* Despite being a doctor Sofya decides to accompany David and the rest of them to death and in some incredibly moving passages they all die in an airless room where they hoped they would be washed
* Back in Viktor’s world and things are staring to turn against him with his laboratory staff being dismissed and his position as a potentially great scientist being undermined by accusations he has gone against the Leninist principles of science