This Place Holds No Fear

Monika Held / Translated by Anne Posten

Published on Holocaust Memorial Day & the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz


‘[A] sobering but deeply rewarding reading’ 
Daily Beast

‘What marks Held’s novel as an important addition to the large body of historical fiction about the lives of camp survivors is her exploration of Heiner’s psychological need to embrace his Auschwitz experiences rather than struggling to repress or overcome them.’ 
Three Percent Review



‘There are few things I admire more than beautiful writing, particularly in the service of such an engrossing story … One moment above all stands out for me, in what is a novelistic equivalent of a beautiful aria, namely Lena’s mini-oration on the word “just”’
Lynn Sipe, Curator, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Collection, Doheny Library, USC

‘… powerful, emotionally wrenching, and beautifully written… a moving, empathetic novel that captures the myriad ways in which survivors try to piece themselves together and go on living. This is a masterful book that I recommend to everyone.’
Bookishly Witty

‘Beautifully written and wholly immersive’
A Week in Auschwitz blog

This Place Holds No Fear is a poignant, pertinent reminder, of what can happen to society when all the wrong people come into power’
David Marx:Book Reviews

‘The novel is based on a true story… so it feels incredibly authentic. It’s certainly powerful and compelling.’
Reading Matters blog


Summoned from Vienna to testify at the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt in 1964, Heiner is forced to recall the horrors of his wartime arrest, deportation and life as prisoner 63 387. In the hallway of the courthouse he collapses, falling into a woman’s arms. Lena knows from that moment she must save him.

At first glance they have little in common: Lena dreams of a holiday in the Pacific, Heiner spends his nights reliving the horrors of Auschwitz. Though no sooner have they fallen in love than Lena is left wondering whether she will ever understand Heiner’s world, so governed by trauma. For his part Heiner wonders whether there is a limit to Lena’s empathy.

To confront the past they return to Auschwitz. As Heiner is transported back in time, Lena sees a different Poland – a country under martial law, gripped by struggle that will alter the future of Europe.

Subtle and engrossing, This Place Holds No Fear tells the story of love in a time after Auschwitz and the gradual awakening of a new Europe.

MONIKA HELD is a freelance journalist, born and raised in postwar Hamburg, and has won many prizes and awards for her journalism and commitment to political causes.

ANNE POSTEN translates contemporary German poetry and prose, including works by Tankred Dorst, Thomas Brasch, and Uwe Kolbe.

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