The Key, the Turtle, and the Bottle of Schnapps: In Honor of My Parents and Grandparents Who Survived the Holocaust
By: Phyllis W. Palm, Ph.D.
Publication Date: June 2015
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 2015
There have been many memoirs written regarding the atrocities that occurred during WWII. From the famous Anne Frank diary to less commonly known titles, the horrors that went on have been documented in a variety of ways. When it comes to this particular title, the author has offered the reader a slightly different viewpoint; it is a view told by a girl who, when she was only a newborn, had grandparents who were deported from Germany to Poland – Hitler’s first step in ridding the world of people he detested. Luckily, in this particular girl’s life, her family was reunited when she was eight-years-old.
Dr. Palm looks into the reasons behind why her fears of Germany were so strong. How they were somehow set into her psyche. Starting with the ‘Introduction,’ which speaks in general terms about how Jewish people lived in the early 19th century, she then brings the story closer to home. She tells her grandparents’ tale of what they went through, as well as her parents’ tale of the effects of war; from letters, moments in time, and the stories told by those who’d survived and made their way to America.
Adolph and Eva Werner, her grandparents, were right beside the evil. They were a part of a world with little food, little shelter, and one where Jewish people walked in groups at night so as not to be killed. The Werners worked to keep their faith and survived by working with their hands. One of the most riveting parts of the story comes near the very beginning. Eva Werner sits, missing her family a great deal, when there is a knock at the door. National Socialist Germany has already become increasingly hostile, but as she opens the door to a soldier and is told that she and her husband will be forced to get on a train and be exported to Poland, the shiver runs down the spine.
When it comes to the author’s parents, although they were not buried in the Nazi nightmare that was happening, she speaks of the time period, and the actions and words of others who changed them.
In the second part of the book, the author brings readers on her own journey, traveling back to Germany and visiting the sites that held trauma and heartbreak for so many. The research was definitely done of a time period that scared everyone, brought heroes to light, and showed the world what bravery, courage, and hell could look like, all at the same time. Although the writing style resounds as a screenplay at times, with “scenes” being written about from afar, this journey is definitely a different and compelling look at an angry time.
Quill says: A true tale that history buffs, WWII readers, and survivors would be interested in reading.
For more information on The Key, the Turtle, and the Bottle of Schnapps, please visit the author's website at: www.phylliswpalm.com