API’S BERLIN DIARIES By Gabrielle Robinson
She Writes Press, 2020
Reviewed by Doris Clark, July 17, 2020
As a granddaughter, Gabrielle Robinson is thrilled to have her grandfather’s diaries in her keeping. However, as she reads them she is disturbed and puzzled by what she finds. Her beloved Api, a doctor who served during the fall of Berlin in 1945, was a Nazi. How could that be? How could this sweet, loving, man be a part of the horrific history of Germany? And how big a role did he play?
Ms. Robinson writes vividly of the difficulties of living through World War II, during which Api lived in deplorable conditions. It took courage to write the account of her grandfather’s difficult life, and Robinson delves into every detail of her dear Api’s diaries.
From the times when the whole family was together through the dreadful days of being separated, they would all experience the bombing, the prejudices, and the persecutions of this time in history. On the most difficult days, the only thing that kept Api going was writing letters, desperately hoping they would reach a surviving loved one. That, and his precious diaries.
As a child Gabrielle doesn’t understand what is happening around her. She misses her grandfather, and yet, when they finally reunite, she is very much afraid of the man who returns to them.
Robinson’s story brings up questions in my own life. What would I do if I were confronted with a situation that is obviously wrong and possibly evil? How would I feel about a member of my own family who played such a questionable role during such a dark period of history? I don’t have an answer to these questions. I have compassion for Gabrielle Robinson’s struggle to understand her grandfather’s life.
This is not a book I will forget any time soon. The story and the questions stay with me.