[Review] The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff

Title: The Kommandant's Girl
Author: Pam Jenoff
Page: 395 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: World War II (1939 - 1945), Jewish Resistance - Poland, Krakow (Poland), Nazis
First Published: 2007

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma's husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city's decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob's Catholic cousin, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.

Emma's already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob's cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma's relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

- Synopsis from Goodreads

I have read quite a few historical fiction with WWII/Holocaust theme but The Kommandant's Girl is somewhat different from other books I have read so far. It is different in the sense that one of the leading character is a Nazi German named Georg Richwalder or Herr Kommandant as regarded by Emma/Anna in the story. And as much as I kept telling myself not to like this particular character, for obvious reason, there were parts in the story that revealed the Kommandant's vulnerable side (he's got his own sad story) that made him quite sympathetic.

The Kommandant's Girl is an amazing story about love, war, courage, determination and how a person, in times of hardships, fight in order to survive. This story has got some intriguing characters: Emma Bau/Anna Lipowski, whom at first I saw as a weak/innocent person but throughout the course of the story grew stronger, even though I may not agree with some of her decisions like having feelings for the Kommandant  - but in a situation as devastating as the war - who am I to judge her. I also liked the character Krysia, Jacob's Catholic cousin, portrayed as a strong woman who helped Emma in spite of the danger of hiding a Jew.

Emma's husband was a member of the Jewish resistance movement during the war and I was moved by the determination and courage of these men and women fighting for their right and survival. I wish the story tells more about this.

I especially love the ending. The author ends the story with a renewed sense of hope but leaves the story hanging - probably because there's a sequel - which I'm looking forward to reading.


I like the sound of this one. I've read one book by Jenoff in the past and liked it. Thanks for the great review.