Affinity Konar: “Mischling”

Some stories burn themselves into ones memory and touch you as intensely as do they represent the plain truth.

Affinity Konars novel “Mischling” tells the horrifying story of two 12 year old twin girls, Pearl and Stasha, who get sent to Auschwitz together with their mother and grandfather. As twins they get separated from their family to be incorporated in Mengeles Zoo, which was the surrealist term used for Josef Mengeles anything but medically justified experiments on twins.

A great number of books have been written, that delve into the facts and statistics on Holocaust and on Josef Mengeles misdeeds as a socalled Doctor. What separates “Mischling” from these books is the writing style, which speaks from the childrens’ perspective. The urge to find some kind of meaning, to show trust and experience it from the surroundings – even from ‘Uncle’ as the children got to call Mengele – and largely to be content with the normality of cruelty is described unusually poignant.

The chapters in the book alternates between two plot lines. At the beginning you just follow the close relation of the two girls and get to know their diverse personalities. When Pearl is separated from Stasha for … special experiments, Stasha is soon convinced, that her twin sister is dead, but how can be absolutely?

“Mischling” is definitely not an easy book to read. It hurts deep inside to follow the girls through terrible times of persecution and physical assault, even after the Auschwitz camp was dissolved and the two girls embarks on two separate journeys towards a most uncertain future. On the other hand it is an important book, because Affinity Konar manages to pass the relative emotional distance of the fact based literature and instead present the both mentally and physically crippling time almost unbearable present for læseren.

Affinity Konar: “Mischling”
Gads Forlag
367 pages
Price: DKK 299,95
ISBN: 9788712052647