From Belsen to Buckingham Palace, By Paul Oppenheimer
As a Silhillian myself, reading this book was extra special. Paul Oppenheimer, MBE, was born in Berlin, but lived the majority of his adult life in Birmingham, specifically in Solihull and Dorridge.
Paul actually came to speak to us at Arden Academy when I was a student there, and I bought a signed copy of his book that he personalised with my name. I'm ashamed to say that it's taken me 15 years to get round to reading it, but I'm so pleased that I finally did.
As the name of the book suggests, Paul's story is one that takes him from the depths of despair at the hands of the Nazis in the notorious Bergen-Belsen prison camp during WWII, right the way through to the pinnacle of achievement when he was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace over 40 years later.
The story revolves around the deep relationship that Paul had with his family, and how ultimately these relationships saved his life.
It's a curiously interesting tale of life in a concentration camp and he details how the favourable status afforded to him, his brother and sister as 'exchange Jews' gave him a different experience of life in the notorious Nazi camps.
It was poignant, and coincidental, that I was reading this book on VE day. It was a great way to remember the sacrifices made by so many during WWII, as well as a recollection of the atrocities of those brutally murdered at the hands of Hitler and the Nazis.
As well as being educational and well written, I had a feeling of pride whilst reading Paul's account of his life, knowing that he settled in the very place that I grew up in. A hugely worthwhile read - I highly recommend it.