Playing For the Commandant by Suzy Zail

Playing for the Commandant[PLAYING FOR THE COMMANDANT][Hardcover] - SuzyZail

Hannah was so innocent and naïve.   She was blinded to the big picture that was transforming right before her as she tries to survive in Auschwitz with her sister. The year was 1944; her family has been rounded up from their ghetto and loaded into a cattle car destined for Auschwitz. A talented pianist, she carries a key from her piano, a memento from her past. Her father is immediately separated on the platform and the three females are now on work duty. Hannah is one of six individuals chosen to audition for the commandant, his son will chose which person will play the piano daily for his family and their guests. Karl selects Hannah and immediately she starts to receive benefits of the position. Warmer clothes, improved conditions during the day, better food and the opportunity to pilfer., Hannah leaves her sister and mother behind each day to enjoy these luxuries . The excitement over a single carrot peel, a single beet peel to be used as blush and stealing a cabbage leaf meant for garbage, all this stealing was it worth the possibility of a lashing with a whip if Hannah got caught? Spending every day in the commandant’s household, Hannah starts to notice his son, Karl. His father makes Karl sing as Hannah accompanies him on the piano and it’s this initial moment that sparks something in Hannah. As she watches, she notices there is something about him, a distance. Karl has no desire to fill his thoughts with power and negativity about Jews; he is so different than the rest of them. I feared the outcome of her thoughts as she knew he was “one of them.” Hannah had never had to work since coming to the camp; she had been playing for the commandant since her arrival. She was blind to so many truths about the camp. As she plays her music, she is moved, she is in a different world. She wasn’t in the commandant’s home and she wasn’t in a war, she was anywhere but there. When she sees Karl not as rebel, she sees hope. What transpired next was brilliant and Karl surprised me for his leadership and his maturity. I couldn’t believe that Hannah didn’t see or understand what was happening in the camp, that she didn’t grasp the enormously of the events that were taken place right in front of her eyes. I have read a lot of book about this time in history and I am still amazed when I can read a book and it gives me something new to think about.