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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
In the little Bavarian town of Fussen, Karl is an intelligent university student whose life is books, learning, and thinking. Karl is also a closet homosexual. His mother is aware of Karl’s preferences and accepts it. His father does not. Despite Karl and his lover’s attempts to keep their love a secret, the truth comes out. Karl spends the next 6 years in a concentration camp. His lover, Hermann, escapes the same fate because his father, the Mayor of Fussen and eventually, a member of the Nazi party and the SS, is able to protect him.
Karl is determined to somehow withstand the horrors of being a prisoner wearing a pink star...the sign of a homosexual. To his heartbreak and disgust, he realizes his best means of survival is to utilize his sexuality to service those in charge of him. Doing so keeps him alive in food and assigned easier work. But he suffers psychologically watching his fellow prisoners suffering and dying from incredibly inhuman punishments. I was horrified reading what the camp commanders inflicted on these poor souls. I could cite a dozen examples, but if you care at all about man’s inhumanity to man, I urge you to read The Seventh Circle yourself. Those punishments, and the accompanying hypocrisy of those inflicting them, are just too many to describe here.
Of the many historical fiction novels I have read that expose the horrors of persecution under the Nazi regime...and I’ve read a lot of them...none has disturbed and surprised me as much as The Seventh Circle by Thomas Bauer. The reason? This is the only account I’ve come across that discloses the humiliating and degrading treatment suffered by homosexuals at the hands of the SS. Stomach-turning. I wish I could say I “enjoyed” this book. I cannot. But I will never forget it. Thomas Bauer’s writing is excellent in every way, from the powerful descriptions to the realistic use of dialogue, to its well-developed primary characters and an appropriate conclusion. I read The Seventh Circle in 48 hours. It was impossible to put down. Heart-breaking, soul-stirring, and brilliant. Thanks for writing this important and enlightening book, Thomas Bauer.