Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?

I finally received the last book from 2012 through the NYU Interlibrary Loan!  Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell? by Horace Greasley is the true story of his early life as an English POW in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.  The most interesting part of the story is how it was eventually told, during the waning days of the author’s life when he met up with a ghost writer who interviewed him and finally his story came to life.  Horace and his twin were called to serve and Horace was offered a chance to be excused from service by being employed as a firefighter for his town, but he decides to serve as he knows his brother will need the guidance to make it through the war.  The bad news… when Horace returns home having made that decision, his brother shares his exemption from service for serving as in a religious mission.  Horace goes to war.  But before he does we learn of his torrid sexual tryst with his girlfriend, pretty graphic detail, this lays the foundation for the future…  Horace leaves for duty and within a short period of time is captured with his fellow English comrades.  Horace shares the hate and horrific experiences that the Nazi’s created while holding the POWs.  The extermination of Jews, homosexuals, and anyone who stood in their way of attempting to create a “superior” one-dimensional race of people – it reminded me much of Man’s Search for Meaning, a wonderfully written memoir of hatred and death in a concentration camp. The difference was what happened to Horace… his sexual relationship with the commanding officer’s daughter.  If it wasn’t written as a true story, this was hard to believe… having sex under the noses of the guards and other captured POWs.  Then after transferring camps, Horace would escape 57 times to have sex in a nearby run-down church.  Horace left nothing to the reader’s imagination as he and Rose would engage in relations regularly.  After a time, Horace let the story out and he and Rose started to help the POWs by bringing food back to the camp, and later parts to build a radio so they could hear English news updates on the collapse of the German stronghold during the war. All in all, Horace was captured for five years.   Of course there were complications in the affair, Rose and her family were not in fact Germans, but concealed their identities as Jews so that they would not be killed.  The end of the love story is bittersweet, which I actually really enjoyed – so I won’t give it away to you.  A really interesting tale of how one man was able to use love as a way to create hope for his fellow POWs.  Horace, aged 80 at the time of the writing, certainly had a healthy sex life and wasn’t afraid to “bare all”…  Interspersing the horrific life of Nazi Germany and unabated sex into one story makes for interesting transitions…  It was so hard to get this book, so if you can find it, pick it up.  It took me three months to get a copy.