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Extended Audio Sample Let Me Go Audiobook, by Helga Schneider Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (487 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Helga Schneider Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2008 ISBN: 9781455181322
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Helga Schneider was four when her mother suddenly abandoned her family in Berlin in 1941. When she next saw her mother, thirty years later, she learned the shocking reason why. Her mother had joined the Nazi SS and had become a guard in the concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where she was in charge of a “correction” unit and responsible for untold acts of torture.

Nearly thirty more years would pass before their second and final reunion, an emotional encounter in Vienna where her ailing mother, then eighty-seven and unrepentant about her past, was living in a nursing home. Let Me Go is the extraordinary account of that meeting and of their conversation, which powerfully evokes the misery of obligation colliding with the inescapable horror of what her mother has done.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Only a versatile, sensitive reader like Rosenblat could narrate such emotionally fraught terrain, exposing the pain of a woman abandoned by her mother and forced to find her own moral compass.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Rosenblat is completely believable. She is by turns sly, boastful, strident, angry, confused, and pitiable. When the elderly woman describes her participation in ghastly medical experiments and other tortures, Rosenblat’s matter-of-fact reading makes the conversation particularly chilling and disturbing…This unforgettable memoir is a gripping and moving listening experience.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Mothers come in all shapes and persuasions: this one enthusiastically joined the Waffen SS, abandoned her children, and embraced her tasks at Auschwitz…Survivor’s tales come in as many shapes as mothers. This one, from the dark side, is as affecting as a kick in the stomach.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “The story will bring tears to most listeners’ eyes…Barbara Rosenblat’s reading is astounding…When Rosenblat reads Schneider’s mother’s words, the listener is chilled by the evil in her voice, and when she reads Schneider’s words, the listener feels the anger and confusion that permeate the book.”

    AudioFile

  • “Schneider packs…[an] emotional punch into this brief but tremendously cathartic memoir.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “For the duration of these pages, the old, mad Germay that we had thought dead comes to life again.”

    J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize–winning author

  • “An exceptional document, an autobiographical testimony of the first order, this essential book confronts the reader with an absolute truth.”

    La Razón (Spain)

  • “A courageous and terrifying document.”

    Télérama (France)

  • “Schneider writes with words that burn on the page…with a love and pity that could leave no one indifferent.”

    Oggi (Italy)

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award
  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice, April 2004

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denis | 2/19/2014

    " An important, emotionally intense and difficult book, which should be requisite reading for anyone trying to understand what happened in Germany during the Nazi era. It is, basically, the portrait that a daughter makes of her own mother, an unrepentant and ferocious jewish-hater Nazi who, decades after the fall of the regime, still hangs on to her despicable beliefs. The frankness and discomfort of the author are heartbreaking. She tries to reach out to her mother when the latest is gravely ill, despite the fact that she despises her, and also tries to come to terms with her own guilt. She partly fails, of course, because it is impossible to come to terms with pure evil - although one can imagine that writing this book has been a necessary cathartic experience for her. It is a courageous book: writing about your own parent like this is not easy. It also illuminates one of the most troubling aspect of the Nazi era - which is actually universal: how evil lies in the most ordinary people, and how anyone, really, can become a monster. It is chilling and horrifying - some gruesome revelations are even shocking. Schneider's writing is simple and direct, as it should be with such a subject. It's the kind of book that haunts you for a long time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kirsty | 2/18/2014

    " I first read this whilst I was in Milan in 2007, and I've just re-read it whilst in France. It's not the most cheerful holiday reading, but it's a marvellous book. It's shocking, harrowing and heartbreaking, and is filled with the most horrendous scenes about what went on in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. It's such a courageous account to have written, and I think that Schneider has been so brave in detailing her estranged mother's part within the concentration camp system. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Kimball | 2/7/2014

    " This is a quick but spectacular read. Considering the topic, quick is best, as it can be hard to digest. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kris | 2/4/2014

    " A true story about a young girl whose mother was active extrremely committed to the Nazi party, so much so that she essentially abandoned her husband and young children because of it, joining the SS and becoming a concentration camp guard. This narrative is written by her daughter and tells some of her mother's story and also their final meeting at a nursing home, nearly 60 years after she left in 1941. Her mother's lack of remorse is chilling. The language in the book is a bit stilted at time, perhaps because it is translated from Italian, but the story of the daughter's struggle to deal with her mother's actions is interesting and poignant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah Pascarella | 2/4/2014

    " The author Helga Schneider receives a letter that her estranged mother is dying, and she may want to come to Vienna to say goodbye. "Let Me Go" follows the afternoon where Schneider arrives to see her mother, and the conversations, remembrances, and confessions that follow. But this is no ordinary estrangement--Schneider's mother was a top-ranking SS officer who oversaw some of the worst concentration camp atrocities. In this conversation, Schneider attempts to make sense of her mother's choices, both personal (abandoning her husband and young children to serve Hitler) and political (her undying loyalty to the Nazi party and unapologetic stance regarding her brutal past). The narrative reads like a one-act play, with its heightened emotion, tension, and ambiguous conclusion. Schneider goes looking for answers, and the sad result is that there can never be any with such a fraught, devastating chapter of history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Genevieve | 1/18/2014

    " The trials that some people go through are truly amazing. This book was very interesting and disturbing at the same time. It's always horrible to hear about the concentration camps but it's even worse when it's a first hand account from a volunteer SS. I wish it would have ended different, I felt like I was left hanging. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Renee | 1/17/2014

    " The author isn't what I would call a great writer, but it's a very powerful as a memoir and record of history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 abbylee Oqueli | 1/14/2014

    " This was really interesting and a different look at the Holocaust than one might be used to reading. It was, however, frustrating to read about such a terrible person and not be able to find anything redeeming in them. I guess it was real and that's what made it tough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy K. | 1/13/2014

    " very intense and very sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie Johnson | 1/8/2014

    " This is another random pull at the library, and I read the whole thing in one evening. It's a dialog between a woman and her partially senile mother, who was an SS officer in a concentration camp. It's a short, sharp read, with a bad aftertaste. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 1/7/2014

    " A heartbreaking work about a daughter whose mother abandons her to be a guard for the SS and how her daughter learns to deal with the torment that her mother inflicted upon the Jews. This book is hard to read but it is definitely a tale of how evil humans can become. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy K. | 1/5/2014

    " very intense and very sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandy Neal | 1/5/2014

    " Actually listened to this on CD. Interesting. About the child of a female SS officer who left her children and husband to devote herself to the SS. The grown daughter goes to visit her and asks her tough questions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sherree | 12/29/2013

    " Hard read, but worth it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia Justin | 11/18/2013

    " Heartbreaking! But it pulls you in to read on because it is history...and we should NEVER brush the brutality of the holocaust under the rug like it never happened. Hard read, but a good insight to the mask the SS would have had to put on in order to carry out such atrocities. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Kimball | 11/5/2013

    " This is a quick but spectacular read. Considering the topic, quick is best, as it can be hard to digest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hena | 11/4/2013

    " This is one that will stick with you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie Johnson | 9/29/2013

    " This is another random pull at the library, and I read the whole thing in one evening. It's a dialog between a woman and her partially senile mother, who was an SS officer in a concentration camp. It's a short, sharp read, with a bad aftertaste. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra | 9/18/2013

    " An interesting holocaust memoir. I listened to the audio version. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharae | 9/16/2013

    " Very interesting how a child learns to deal with her mothers nazi past. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vivian | 8/13/2013

    " Short but powerful memoir. Helga Schneider's mother abandoned her family in 1941 to join the Nazis and was a prison guard in the camps. You can feel Helga's pain, shame, love and loathing. Difficult to read, but riveting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hena | 6/1/2013

    " This is one that will stick with you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 3/28/2013

    " A very difficult mother-daughter relationship. How hard to have a mother who abandoned you to be an SS officer in Nazi concentration camps. This book chronicles the second and final visit between mother and daughter in 45 years. Very emotionally powerful. Short fast read that packs a punch. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharae | 3/27/2013

    " Very interesting how a child learns to deal with her mothers nazi past. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandy Neal | 3/24/2013

    " Actually listened to this on CD. Interesting. About the child of a female SS officer who left her children and husband to devote herself to the SS. The grown daughter goes to visit her and asks her tough questions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cara Black | 1/16/2013

    " I'm hooked from the start "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucy | 11/24/2012

    " Short and harrowing! So short that I had about three million questions for the author at the end.... but a truly gripping and incisive memoir. The reader has the best, most authentic German accent, too. My walls were rattling when i played this on my stereo aloud. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 abbylee Oqueli | 8/25/2012

    " This was really interesting and a different look at the Holocaust than one might be used to reading. It was, however, frustrating to read about such a terrible person and not be able to find anything redeeming in them. I guess it was real and that's what made it tough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 6/24/2012

    " A very difficult mother-daughter relationship. How hard to have a mother who abandoned you to be an SS officer in Nazi concentration camps. This book chronicles the second and final visit between mother and daughter in 45 years. Very emotionally powerful. Short fast read that packs a punch. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 4/23/2012

    " I listened to the audio version of this book and I think the reader made the characters much more enjoyable for me than if I had read the traditional bound book. I really liked this book, but now that I have finished it, my heart is aching! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vivian | 3/31/2012

    " Short but powerful memoir. Helga Schneider's mother abandoned her family in 1941 to join the Nazis and was a prison guard in the camps. You can feel Helga's pain, shame, love and loathing. Difficult to read, but riveting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kzcav | 3/14/2012

    " I was riveted by this story. Truly fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 2/2/2012

    " Schneider attempts to reconcile with her 87-year-old mother who abandoned her family to become a Nazi SS officer. The mother is unrepentant and matter-of-fact in a way that is both chilling and disturbing. (reviewed audio for Booklist) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cara Black | 10/13/2011

    " I'm hooked from the start "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arundhuti | 9/9/2011

    " very moving and quite thought provoking.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 8/22/2011

    " I found this book to be almost surreal - was it nonfiction? It seemed too unbelievable to be true. But it was. Although it was a quick read, but it stayed with me long after the book ended. This book should be required reading for students who are learning about the atrocites in WWII. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucy | 5/11/2011

    " Short and harrowing! So short that I had about three million questions for the author at the end.... but a truly gripping and incisive memoir. The reader has the best, most authentic German accent, too. My walls were rattling when i played this on my stereo aloud. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 3/8/2011

    " A very difficult mother-daughter relationship. How hard to have a mother who abandoned you to be an SS officer in Nazi concentration camps. This book chronicles the second and final visit between mother and daughter in 45 years. Very emotionally powerful. Short fast read that packs a punch. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kzcav | 2/25/2011

    " I was riveted by this story. Truly fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 monica | 11/18/2010

    " Sfida internazionale

    Questi sono i libri brevi ma concepiti con sentimento, intrisi di emozioni. Stanno in piedi grazie alla vita e ai rimorsi.
    Queste sono frasi da leggere con calma, da prendere e conservare, da capire con mente compassionevole.
    Questa purtroppo è vita vera. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 11/14/2010

    " Un libro sconvolgente!
    Rivela dei particolari della tragedia che mi erano sconosciuti e mi hanno lasciato esterefatta! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 10/19/2010

    " What a hard book to like. Very well written. Heartbreaking, but a very good book. One of those you hate to love. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bonnie | 10/18/2010

    " Dull. I didn't even finish... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandy | 9/28/2010

    " Actually listened to this on CD. Interesting. About the child of a female SS officer who left her children and husband to devote herself to the SS. The grown daughter goes to visit her and asks her tough questions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 5/10/2010

    " Okay, a poor choice to coincidentally pick up and read on Mother's Day . . . It was a completely engrossing and compelling memoir, though. What an unbelievable and horrific story. "

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About the Author

Helga Schneider was born in 1937 in Steinberg, now in Poland, and spent her childhood in Berlin. She has lived as a freelance writer for many years in Bologna, Italy.

About the Narrator

Barbara Rosenblat, one of the most awarded narrators in the business, was selected by AudioFile magazine as one of the Golden Voices of the Twentieth Century. She has received the prestigious Audie Award multiple times and has earned fifty-four AudioFile Earphones Awards. She has also appeared in film, television, and theater, both in London’s West End and on Broadway.