In the book “Once We Were Brothers”, Ben Solomon, a retired Polish immigrant, accuses Elliot Rosenzweig, a wealthy Chicago philanthropist, of being a former SS office, Otto Piatek. Ben and Otto were raised in the same house, but ended up on different sides of the Nazi occupation. Ben pursues his accusations with the help of a young attorney, Catherine Lockhart.
Discussion of the book was lively. Some loved the book while others liked it, but thought it was not exceptionally well written. Aspects of the book were thought to be unbelievable, particularly Catherine quitting her job to devote her time to Ben’s cause. Although the book interwove the story of Ben’s pursuit of Otto, with Catherine’s developing relationship with the investigator, Liam, there was not much discussion of the latter aspect of the book.
One interesting part of the discussion focused on Otto’s character as he became more ingrained in the SS. Although Otto may have initially moved more toward the Nazis because he was encouraged to do so by Ben’s father in order to be in a better position to help Ben’s family, some felt that there was no excuse for his involvement with the Nazis at any level. There was also discussion of whether his philanthropy as Elliot Rosenzweig was partly out of guilt, or whether it was totally out of ego and wanting recognition. Some questioned why he would become such a public figure without fear of being recognized.
Overall, there was agreement that the book raised a lot of food for thought, and was certainly well worth reading.