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Here’s a video of Martha Hall Kelly introducing Lilac Girls.
Discussion Questions for Lilac Girls
1. Lilac Girls was based on real people and real events that happened during Hitler’s reign, were you aware of the Ravensbruck “Rabbits” before you read the book?
2. There were many gruesome events that happened in the book. Kelly’s focus on the harrowing experiments in Ravensbruck was very memorable. What message was Kelly trying to say by including heavy details of the women’s experiences? Did you find these parts hard to read?
3. The story spans over a long period. Were there any parts that surprised you? Which part made the most impact on you?
4. The story is told from Caroline, Kasia and Herta’s perspective. What did you think of the author’s style of narration? Did you enjoy it? Do you think it enriched the story or would you have preferred one narrative?
5. Herta Oberheuser was a real person. Do you think the author portrayed her life and thoughts adequately? Did you want to know more about Herta? Were you sympathetic to her?
6. Why do you think Kelly included Herta’s point of view? How did that affect your reading of the book?
7. Having read Caroline’s and Kasia’s stories, did you find it empowering for women?
8. Halina’s ring was a major significance in the book. What did Halina’s ring represent? Why did Herta want to keep it?
9. The women endured and suffered not only in pre-war but post war. They found it difficult to adapt and assimilate after WWII. How well do you think the author addressed Kasia’s struggle to find peace in the aftermath of the trauma at Ravensbruck?
10. Do you think 20 years as a sentence for the war crimes was sufficient for Herta Oberheuser in the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg? How did Kasia feel when she found out the truth about Herta’s sentence?
11. Susana’s view of the world is very different to Kasia. Each reminds the reader how these viewpoints shape their actions. How well did Kelly’s characters reveal their way of survival?
12. The book explores women’s role in WWII and after, do you think Kelly successful showed the balance between the victim’s point of view and the women who helped the victim’s?
13. Many of the themes that appeared in the book, such as survival, political resistance and human rights were part and parcel of WWII. What has history taught us? Is it relevant today? What does it suggest about the human condition?
14. One of the many themes of Lilac Girls focused on women’s relationships- female friendship, sister relationship, mother-daughter relationship, love etc. How does these themes shape and impact the character’s lives?
15.Which character did you most connect with?
16.What did you think of the ending? Was it what you expected?
17. What was your take-away message from reading Lilac Girls?
18. Did you enjoy the Lilac Girls? Who would you recommend it to?
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