The Unlikely True Story of an SS Soldier and a Jewish Woman
Gustav Palm kept his secret for more than forty years. He’d been a young man when Hitler invaded his native Norway. After being forced to guard a Nazi prison camp, however, Gustav took his only option for escape: he volunteered for the Waffen-SS to fight at the front.
Agnes Erdös grew up in privilege and prosperity as a child in Hungary. She and her parents were practicing Roman Catholics, but they were ethnic Jews, and after the Nazis invaded her country, Agnes and her parents were sent to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Miraculously, both Agnes and Gustav survived. And after the war, they found each other.
Told in their own words, Surviving Hitler is the story of two indomitable spirits who built on their life-altering experiences to overcome the past, help each other heal, and embrace a common faith in God that led them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Available at DeseretBook.com, Amazon.com, and at bookstores near you.
History is written by the victors. And so it is that most accounts of World War II depict the most vile of acts that occurred as if all German soldiers were cruel, bloodthirsty, and evil. While the tragedies were real and abundant, Gustav and Agnes give a gentler view of many who served in the German army.
Gustav Palm was a young man when Hitler invaded his native country, Norway. He accepted what he believed to be a position to police his local neighborhood. Instead, he found himself in boot camp for the Army. When he was forced to guard a Nazi prison camp, he took his only option for escape: he volunteered for the Waffen-SS to fight at the front.
Agnes Erdos grew up in prosperity in Hungary. After the Nazis invaded her country, she and her family were sent to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. She received a blessing at the hands of her father promising her that she would survive. Faith in that blessing kept her optimism alive, and through many small miracles, she survived. The rest of her family, however, did not.
And yet, Agnes never showed bitterness towards her captors. She recognized many of them for what they were — unwilling participants of the war machine helmed by Adolph Hitler. She became friends with some of the guards and they in turn helped her and gave her preferential treatment. Even in such dire circumstances, Agnes found opportunities to use her skills and aid those around her.
After the war, that lack of bitterness allowed Agnes to see beyond Gustav’s past. She saw a man who was suffering and defensive, and she did what came naturally to her — she showed him kindness. That kindness healed him and sparked a romance that would last decades.
Surviving Hitler is a fascinating read told in first person, alternating between Gustav and Agnes. It gives you a real feel for what it was like during World War II from both sides. I recommend it to anyone interested in history.
About the Author:
Like his brother and three sisters, O. HAKAN PALM, eldest son of Gustav and Agnes Erdös Palm, has been shaped by his parents’ wartime experiences. A successful management consultant in Stockholm, Sweden, Håkan has served faithfully in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a bishop, as a member of two stake presidencies, and seven times as a counselor in the Sweden Stockholm Mission. He and his wife, Barbro, are the parents of seven children.