The Last Survivor

Legacies of Dachau

Publisher: Vintage
In The Last Survivor, journalist Timothy Ryback explores the surprising--and often disturbing--ways the citizens of Dachau go about their lives in a city the rest of us associate with gas chambers and mass graves. A grandmother recalls the echo of wooden shoes on cobblestone, the clip-clop of inmates marched from boxcars to barracks under the cover of night. A mother-to-be opts to deliver in a neighboring town, so that her child's birth certificate will not be stamped DACHAU. An "SS baby," now middle-aged, wonders about the father he never knew. And should you visit Dachau, you will meet Martin Zaidenstadt, an 87 year-old who accosts tourists with a first-hand account of the camp before its liberation in 1945. Beautifully written, compassionate, wise, The Last Survivor takes us to a place that bears the mark of Cain--and a people unwilling to be defined by the past, yet painfully unable to forget.


There is a click as the key turns. The desk drawer slides open. A pile of red-and-white HB cigarette packs is knocked aside. A gun is withdrawn. As far as I can tell, it is a standard .380 caliber pistol, not unlike the kind that Heinrich Schmied displays in the window of his
sporting-goods shop across the street from...
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"Elegantly written without ever neglecting the magnitude of horror that underlies every gesture, breath and nuance in Dachau." --The New York Times Book Review

"A brilliantly written tone poem in which identities and facts slip and slide into the abyss of memory." --The Baltimore Sun

"Ryback's insights come in haunting prose: heading down a long gravel-path at Dachau is 'like walking on crushed brittle bones.'" --Detroit Free-Press