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My Grandfather’s Knife

By Joseph Pearson

9780750997393

ISBN: 9780750997393

Published: 07-04-2022


My Grandfather’s Knife

By Joseph Pearson

ISBN: 9780750997393

Published: 07-04-2022

About This Book

'Extraordinary ... History at its most sensitive and evocative' Julia Boyd


A knife adorned with a swastika and an eagle’s head … As a young boy, Joseph Pearson was terrified of the weapon hanging from a hook in his grandfather’s basement, a trophy seized from the enemy in battle.


When he later inherited the knife, he unlocked a story far more unsettling than he could ever have imagined. By then a writer and cultural historian living in Berlin, Joseph found himself drawn to other objects from the Nazi era: a pocket diary, a recipe book, a double bass and a cotton pouch. Although the past remains a painful subject in Germany, he embarked on a journey to illuminate their stories before they disappeared from living memory.


Gradually, the original owners of all five objects come into view – a fresh-faced prairie boy, a star-crossed romantic, a capable young cook, a musician wounded at the front and a Holocaust survivor. As we delve into these past lives, many of them testaments to violence and cruelty, Joseph Pearson forces us to ask what dangers lurk when living witnesses of war are replaced by the everyday objects they owned. Might some of these relics distort – rather than show us – the truth?


A historical detective story and an enthralling account of one historian’s search for answers, My Grandfather’s Knife is at once a poignant meditation on memory and a unique addition to our understanding of Nazi Germany. 

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