NONFICTION

To Look a Nazi in the Eye: A Teen's Account of a War Criminal Trial

256p. Second Story. Sept. 2017. pap. $13.95. ISBN 9781772600407.
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Gr 7 Up—As a high schooler, Lebowitz participated in the International March of the Living, a program dedicated to bringing people to visit sites of the Holocaust, including Auschwitz. During her trip, she met survivors and forged strong friendships with some. Through these friendships, Lebowitz learned of the upcoming trial of Oskar Groening, a 94-year-old former SS agent. He was to stand trial in Germany for aiding and abetting the murder of 300,000 Jewish people at Auschwitz. Lebowitz knew she wanted to watch the trial firsthand. Through boldness and determination, she achieved her goal and sat in the courtroom for the first week of the trial and blogged about her experience. The eyewitness account reveals the complexity of her emotions—she wanted Groening convicted swiftly yet was moved by the frailty of the elderly man. However, her introspection, comprising much of the story, is rather dryly written. Alternatively, the verbatim testimony of both Holocaust survivors and Groening are truly gut-wrenching. The fact that with each passing year, fewer and fewer survivors are alive to tell their stories makes this account important. Although Lebowitz returned to Toronto before the trial's end, she continued to follow the proceedings and the eventual guilty verdict. The ordeal has since prompted Lebowitz to advocate for human rights worldwide.
VERDICT Though a bit wordy, Lebowitz's account is a stirring reminder of the importance of history and activism.

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