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The Fighter of Auschwitz - Erik Brouwer

In 1943, the Dutch champion boxer, Leen Sanders, was sent to Auschwitz. His wife and children were put to death while he was sent ‘to the left’ with the others who were fit enough for labour. Recognised by an SS officer, he was earmarked for a ‘privileged’ post in the kitchens in exchange for weekly boxing matches for the entertainment of the Nazi guards. From there, he enacted his resistance to their limitless cruelty.
With great risk and danger to his own life, Leen stole, concealed and smuggled food and clothing from SS nursing units for years to alleviate the unbearable suffering of the prisoners in need. He also regularly supplied extra food to the Dutch women in Dr. Mengele’s experiment, Block 10. To his fellow Jews in the camp, he acted as a rescuer, leader and role model, defending them even on their bitter death march to Dachau towards the end of the war.
A story of astonishing resilience and compassion, The Fighter of Auschwitz is a testament to the endurance of humanity in the face of extraordinary evil.

This is in turns, a heartbreakingly sad and shocking account of life in a Nazi camp, whilst also being an incredible story of bravery, hope and amazing account of how one brave boxer used the skills he had and the chances it gave him to try to help and lead others through one of the most terrible experiences they could have found themselves in.

An incredible book about an incredible person, this is a story that has to be read to be believed, and shows the best and worst of humanity all in one story.

Erik Brouwer is a Dutch sports journalist and the author of eight historical non-fiction titles on topics as diverse as Argentine football and the actress Jetta Goudal. Spartacus, his book about Jewish Olympic athletes at the start of the Second World War, won the Nico Scheepmaker award for sports books in 2009.

My thanks to Random Things Tours for a spot on the blogtour and the copy of the book to read and review.

Find out more and order a copy yourself at:

Review and post by @richreadalot September 2023

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