The Auschwitz Garden – a story of survival

The Auschwitz Garden will inspire you with the tenacity and survival skills of a truly remarkable man. His family call him “oppi”.

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This novel aims to capture the life story of a truly remarkable man who survived being a concentration camp prisoner in Auschwitz and Mauthausen and then immigrated to Australia where he continues to live a long, healthy, and happy life. It is based on the memories of a now 95-year-old man who has a lucid recollection of events and takes great pleasure relaying them to his family by word of mouth. These fascinating life experiences simply begged to be recorded and shared with others.

In order to present a complete picture the harsh treatment as a concentration camp prisoner necessarily needs to be told but the novel exists to tell his life story with great significance levelled at his post WWII existence and new life in a foreign land. It stands as testament to a truly stoic man who is loved and respected by all those his life has touched.

Fate plays both cruel and kind hands to our protagonist, sometimes unravelling its far-reaching tentacles over decades to join seemingly disconnected events. Initial acts of kindness, providing safe-haven to Jews trying to evade the Nazis in occupied Poland, were the only ‘crime’ committed. Betrayal by a family member resulted in his incarceration as a political prisoner. His harsh life, during WWII and immediately there after, moulded the personality with its many intriguing quirks and nuances that everyone has grown to love in this man referred to by his family as oppi.

Oppi’s garden becomes his sanctuary where he whiles away his retirement years. Gardening is a long-term experiment of recycling and working out combinations of plants to keep away pests. Vegetables have that old world charm and taste real. Plants of medicinal value are also cultivated, with their properties determined not from books but rather through self-testing.


Following are some excerpts from, and links to, reviews of this novel.

 “immensely satisfying novel”
“all of this and more Cunningham scribes so well that the words indeed sound as personal recitations from oppi himself”
 “The Auschwitz Garden by D. A. Cunningham is well written and enjoyable.”
“I liked how different The Auschwitz Garden was from my first D. A. Cunningham novel, The Degustation of Dave, because it showed that Cunningham has a range to his writing. This novel made me even more excited to read more of Cunningham’s work.”

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story
 “In The Auschwitz Garden Cunningham immortalizes the memoirs of Oppi, a 95 year old concentration camp survivor.”
“This book is definitely worth the read, just be prepared to witness the cruelties ever present during the Holocaust.”

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