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Welcome to the online book club for Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson.
Ben Solomon, a survivor of the Nazi invasion of Poland, is watching TV one day in his older years and sees a face he could never forget. The man who lived with his family and then turned his back on them is alive and well and living in Chicago, a pillar of the community. Ben decides to confront the man he knows as Otto, but is known to all of Chicago as Elliot Rosenzweig, only to have Elliot adamantly deny that he is Otto. In fact, he is himself a survivor of Auschwitz and has a tattoo to prove it. However, Ben has people who believe his story – why would he lie?
I love historical fiction and ran across this book in a sale aisle of a bookstore. I bought it and added it to my to-read pile. I then chose it for the May Online Book Club book. I have to say I am very glad to have come across this book.
- Has your family ever brought someone into the fold who wasn’t family, but is now? How would their betrayal be different than a stranger’s?
- Could you leave everything you have right now if you were warned war and persecution were coming your way? Or would you stay and hope like many did in WWII?
- Do you think there’s anything Otto could have done differently do save the lives of Ben’s family members?
- Have you ever sacrificed like Catherine to help someone?
- How are Ben and Hannah’s love story similar to Catherine and Liam’s?
- Courage is a theme in the book. Where do the various characters find inspiration for their courage?
- One of the saddest scenes is Beka’s suicide. What are your thoughts on her final actions?
- Do you think it’s worthwhile to still track down and prosecute Nazis in their old age?
- Did you have any doubts along the way that Elliott was Otto? When did you know for sure that they were the same?
- If there are any questions I didn’t ask that you want to discuss, please list them here.