The Birkenau Scrolls
Prague, 1939. Nazi Germany invade Czechoslovakia. Jewish magician Herbert Levin is deported with his family first to the Terezin ghetto and then to a large camp in Poland.
Leningrad siege, 1943. Portuguese legionnaire Francisco Latino battles with the Spanish Blue Division against the Red Army. He falls for a Russian girl but she is taken by the SS. To save her, he joins the Nazi elite force and is sent to the camp where she is kept in Poland.
Thus the Portuguese soldier, the Russian girl and the Jewish magician share the same destiny.
They must cooperate to survive, but the plot thickens when the death camp prisoners organize a major uprising and the magician is drawn to the heart of it. Can magic save them all?
Based on true events.
“I recently read The Magician of Auschwitz and The Birkenau Scrolls, and, despite having read hundreds of books on this subject, these two stand out. The author, José Rodrigues dos Santos, brings new information unknown to most people about what really happened in the extermination and forced labour camps. He brings to life the harsh conditions of daily life there. These are two heavyweight novels that manage to bring the reader into that living hell on Earth. They are worth every written word.”
“An unbearable suspense compels us to turn the pages, because every second is sometimes a question of life and often of death, in this novel which does not seem to be a novel so much it is screaming, screaming of truth, of a truth certainly rather known but always unbearable, even incredible. The description inside the gas chambers is Dantesque. I have read many historical essays on this tragic place, but I have never met an author who has gone as far as J. R. Dos Santos. (…) I read this book eager to know the protagonist's fate, and I was amazed by its realistic descriptions. I knew what to expect, but it was stronger than I expected.”
Click here for the original critique in French.
“It's a story you read with a feeling in the gut (…) The reader is spared nothing about daily "life" in the death camps. With a triviality that is sometimes revolting, but necessary. A shocking story, based on real facts from scrolls buried by deportees near the German camp in Poland. This work, poignant, is salutary.”
“A poignant and moving account of the Holocaust.”
“Portuguese writer José Rodrigues dos Santos brings his own touch, both on the terrible reality he describes and on the complex, contradictory and sometimes unspeakable feelings that inhabit his characters. He is also a storyteller whose tale keeps us on the edge. Based on authentic manuscripts hidden by the Sonderkommando, he weaves a plot (which is also the continuation and ending of The Magician of Auschwitz) not only carried by very intense dramatic tension, but placed on the borders of life and death, in this hell from which abysmal existential questions arise.”