The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow is a book that deals with the struggles of being Jewish in Nazi Germany. The main character, Karl, is a Jewish boy living in Berlin. His dream is to be a professional boxer. This has always been a dream of his, but it becomes far more prevalent when a group of boys called ‘The Wolf Pack’ beat him up and threaten to expose his heritage to everyone. Karl’s father then makes a deal with world famous boxer, Max Schmeling, in exchange for a beautiful painting Max always wanted, Max would give Karl boxing lessons.
During these lessons, Karl progresses in getting stronger, however, the state of Germany is only getting worse and worse for Jewish people. Karl, his friends, and even his family, are all at risk of being outed, beaten up, arrested, or even killed -- simply for being Jewish.
This book offers a unique perspective and progression on being a Jewish person in Nazi Germany. It’s no clean cut, know-it-all history book, but it still offers insight on the struggles of Jews in Germany at that time and gives a different lens for the reader to look through and understand.
This book, first and foremost, brings to the table a different look on what it was to be Jewish in Nazi Germany during WWII. It shows how at the start it didn’t seem bad; no one expected something like Nazism to spread, so no one worried. However, less than a year later, the spread of Nazism was rampant. It got so bad that anyone who even had a hint of Jewish heritage in their blood was run out out their business, home, neighborhoods, etc and had to worry about being called names such as “mongrel” simply for practicing or having family that practised Judaism.
The Berlin Boxing Club also offers a good image for the process of maturing through your teen years. Karl started out as a somewhat selfish, uncaring boy. He did not care much about Hitler being in power because he thought it would not effect him. He did not practice Judaism, neither did his family, but on his father’s side, he still had Jewish blood in him, which he thought no one would ever find out about. However, word has a way of getting out, and Karl, along with his family, become more and more affected by Hitler’s rein and the terrible laws put in place to exclude and demonize Jews. Karl is forced to try and protect his family through any and all circumstances.
This book is a good read in anyone interested in learning more about what life was like for Jewish people in Germany during the 1930s. It offers a different perspective and lens to look through to try and understand more of what life was like at that time. Not only that, but it presents itself as a story of hope and perseverance. This book shows how a family can power through even the toughest of times. Not only that, but it’s a well-paced, compelling read that keeps you interested throughout the story.