War Zone Zoo
The Berlin Zoo in World War Two
English review -translated by Arnold Palthe ( For the Dutch review, click here )
Author: Kevin Prenger
Translated: Arnold Palthe
Book form: paperback, illustrated
Bookreview: In times of war, places like zoos cannot escape the devastating effects of bombardments. During World War Two, various zoos in the Netherlands and likewise in Germany, suffered from the violence of war. In “War Zone Zoo” Kevin Prenger tells the story about the Tiergarten Berlin, or the Berlin Zoo.
The book opens with a short historic overview after which the author focuses extensively on the period 1933-1945, the rise of Nazism – leading to the discharge of members of the Board of Supervisors and the ousting of Jewish stock holders – to the reconstruction of the zoo after the war.
The destruction of a zoo in war time appears to be a somewhat insignificant event as compared to the 6 million human lives destroyed as a result of a quest for an ideal race and to the lives of millions who lost their lives on the battlefields. However, the destruction of the Berlin Zoo is a symbolism in disguise. After all, a zoo is a place of innocence and love. A place many a child will remember lovingly and exactly that place could not escape from the lust for power of certain people. The Zoologischer Garten Berlin also became a symbol of the reconstruction of Berlin after the war. Once again, the same love was displayed as before the war to return the zoo to a worthy location for young and old.
“War Zone Zoo” hides a symbolism as well. The book shows the senselessness of war. In order to show this to the youngsters, “War Zone Zoo” is the perfect tool. Among the young, animals do appeal to the imagination more than unknown people. Such confrontation is important because they are after all the generation that will pass on the baton where world peace is concerned.
This book is not exclusively meant for the young though. Kevin Prenger is author and reviewer of the site Go2War2.nl, (English section) part of STIWOT (Stichting Informatie Wereldoorlog Twee, Foundation for Information about World War Two). His dexterity with the pen is captivating, whether articles about people and events during World War Two are concerned, the review of a book or in this case a book about the ups and downs of a zoo in times of war.
“War Zone Zoo” is very readable and the story is gripping from beginning to end. In addition, Prenger has adorned his book with an abundance of fine and clear pictures, lending more depth to the story. In particular because of his focusing on the symbolic importance of the zoo, “War Zone Zoo” is, in my honest opinion an excellent addition to existing war literature.
Rating: X X X X Very good
This review was earlier publisher on Tracesofwar.com.