To Look A Nazi in the Eye was a beautiful and powerful book, exactly what I would expect from Toronto‘s Kathy Kacer.

Kacer, who I have interviewed for Book Time, has published a number of Holocaust-related books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her parents are Holocaust survivors and her first book, The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser, was based on the true story about her mom.

To Look A Nazi in the Eye ($13.95, Kathy Kacer with Jordana Lebowitz, Second Story Press) is the true story of 19-year-old Jordana Lebowitz’s time at the trial of Oskar Groening, known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, a man charged with being complicit in the death of more than 300,000 Jewish people.

“A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Jordana was still not prepared for what she would see and hear. Listening to Groening’s testimony and to the Holocaust survivors who came to testify against him, Jordana came to understand that by witnessing history she gained the knowledge and legitimacy to be able to stand in the footsteps of the survivors who went before her and pass their history – her history – on to the next generation.”

In her acknowledgments, Kacer said she had been following Groening’s story for some time, wanted to write about him but didn’t know how to “approach the story.” So when she read a newspaper account of Toronto teenager Jordana Lebowitz, who went to Germany to observe the trial, she “knew immediately that Jordana’s journey provided the perfect framework within which to write this book.”

Regular meetings, thousands of questions and a couple years later the book was written.

I liked the book had a mix of Groening’s testimony, which Kacer says in her author’s note she has reconstructed and re-invented from several sources, Lebowitz’s blog for Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the story itself. I found myself grappling with the same issues and thoughts Lebowitz had as to how she felt about Groening himself as well as his future and I could see the point of view of various survivors in terms of whether to forgive the former Nazi or not.

And as always, I learned more about the cruelty, although that seems like such a tame word, shown by the Nazi’s to their fellow humans.

The story of Lebowitz’s journey to Germany to attend the trial showed bravery and courage while her passion to make the world a better place, to help people who need it and to work hard to ensure hatred never wins is inspiring.

A copy of this book was provided by Second Story Press for honest review. The opinions are my own.