The story told in The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz is extraordinary... It is a miraculous story with many more twists before they were liberated — and Dronfield tells it well in an energetic, lively, occasionally empurpled style. Some will find it offputting that he uses the tricks of fiction to tell it... You can never be certain what is hard fact and what is authorial embellishment... These are quibbles — the story of two men who against all the odds survived Nazi barbarism deserves to be heard.
Brilliantly researched and written with searing clarity by historian Jeremy Dronfield, it’s a book where things are horrible from the very beginning — Viennese Jews being made to scrub the pavements by their previously friendly neighbours who have become rabid anti-Semites overnight — and then get progressively worse, till you can’t believe they can get any worse, but they do.
Somehow, throughout five years of methodically vicious incarceration, Gustav (his inspiration during the starvation he continuously endured was Gandhi) managed to maintain and conceal a sparsely kept diary. This journal, published with Fritz’s memoir as The Dog Will Not Die (1995), forms the bedrock of Jeremy Dronfield’s novelistic retelling of those terrible years....If there are moments when Dronfield’s extraordinary book sounds more like a peculiarly gruesome thriller, readers should remind themselves that none of this is fiction. These horrors happened. Witnesses such as Gustav and Fritz survived and told their tales to ensure that their past should never be repeated. The rest is up to us.