The Watchmaker of Dachau: An absolutely heartbreaking World War 2 historical novel

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16 reviews

About this ebook

An unforgettable novel of human kindness.


Snow falls and a woman prepares for a funeral she has long expected, yet hoped would never come. As she pats her hair and straightens her skirt, she tells herself this isn’t the first time she’s lost someone. Lifting a delicate, battered wristwatch from a little box on her dresser, she presses it to her cheek. Suddenly, she’s lost in memory…

January 1945, Dachau, Germany. As the train rattles through the bright, snowy Bavarian countryside, the still beauty outside the window hides the terrible scenes inside the train, where men and women are packed together, cold and terrified. Jewish watchmaker Isaac Schüller can’t understand how he came to be here, and is certain he won’t be leaving alive.


When the prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp, Isaac is unexpectedly pulled from the crowd and installed in the nearby household of Senior Officer Becher and his young, pretty, spoiled wife. With his talent for watchmaking, Isaac can be of use to Becher, but he knows his life is only worth something here as long as Becher needs his skills.


Anna Reznick waits table and washes linens for the Bechers, who dine and socialise and carry on as if they don’t constantly have death all around them. When she meets Isaac she knows she’s found a true friend, and maybe more. But Dachau is a dangerous place where you can never take love for granted, and when Isaac discovers a heartbreaking secret hidden in the depths of Becher’s workshop, it will put Anna and Issac in terrible danger…


A gorgeously emotional and tear-jerking read set during World War Two. Perfect for fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzWe Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.


What readers are saying about The Watchmaker of Dachau:


Beautiful and heartbreakingpulls at the heartstrings breathtaking in its beauty… Nothing I can say in my review can possibly do the justice this book deserves. I can only say to grab yourself a copy and experience it for yourself. A definite 5 star read.’ Confessions of a Bookaholic, 5 stars

Affecting, heart-breaking and powerful tale haunting, atmospheric and intensely dramatic tale that will shock, devastate, enthral and captivate readers a superb novel I won’t forget in a hurry.’ Bookish Jottings


‘A book that put me through the emotional wringer a beautiful and emotional read, a powerful story that begs to be read so thought-provoking that it lingers after you have put it down.’ Sharon Beyond the Books


I haven't read anything as touching or heartfelt as The Watchmaker of Dachau in yearsincrediblemade me smile & shed happy tears.’ @bookworm.britt


Powerfulan epic, moving storya must-read. You’ll find yourself grabbing tissues in this atmospheric tearjerker and wishing the last page was chapters and chapters away. I devoured it in one sittinga masterful painter of words!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars


Beautiful captivating and hopeful yet tragic and devastating. It hooks you from the very first pageputting it down is something you won’t be able to dohighly recommend.’ @toreadistobreathe, 5 stars


I need to dry my eyes now after reading this book… a deeply profound book that was deeply movingone I will not forget.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars


Amazingly stunninga real tearful readso vividly rendered… one story that I will never forgettook my breath away.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Ratings and reviews

16 reviews
Rosemary De Gouveia
September 18, 2023
Heartbreaking book, left me thinking for days how the Jews suffered, in the concentration camps. Isaac, Anna, Greta, Friederich, Levi and Nina were great human beings, who had compassion and kindness but, who all suffered in their own way under the cruelty of the Germans. Well written but so sad. There were some happy moments.
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Kristin Turman
January 20, 2021
Inspired by a true story, The Watchmaker of Dachau is gripping from the first page. It envelopes you with sorrow and despair, but also sheds lights of hope. As one would expect from a book about victims of concentration camps during WWII, painful emotions leap from the pages. Emotions that stayed with me, even after I finished the book. The book takes place towards the end of WWII, in the concentration camp Dachau. When work duty was assigned, select prisoners in the camp were taken to local officers’ homes for different types of work. Anna is selected to be a maid for Officer Becher, and Isaac, with his fine talent of fixing watches, is chosen to ‘fix things’ at the same house. Becher’s son Friedrich (age 11) also arrives home from boarding school during this time. I feel my words cannot do this book the justice it deserves. How can I, living in modern America in 2021, even begin to understand how Anna and Isaac, or the rest of the prisoners felt? I can’t. I can’t imagine living in a shack, on straw packed together for a mattress, only receiving one ladle of watered down soup for dinner and half of a piece of stale bread to be halved for my breakfast. I can’t image not being able to see my family and also not knowing if I would ever see them again. I can’t imagine living in such fear, wishing that death would consume me so I didn’t have to feel the blows of the officers or the pains in my stomach from starvation. I can’t and hopefully never will. The book is told from different points of views. As a reader, it allows us to descend in to the minds of Anna and Isaac, the pain they feel and the sadness of being stripped from the lives they once lived. We also see the happenings through the innocent eyes of Friedrich, who doesn’t understand why he is supposed to hate the kind man working on watches in his family’s shed. Who also doesn’t understand why there are children in the camp not far from his house, living in the harshest of conditions. Carly Schabowski has done a magnificent job of writing a book that gives the audience a small glimpse into the devastation that occurred during WWII. I know this book will stay with me for a long time. As Isaac inscribed on the inside of his watch (remember me), I definitely will.
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Carol Perreault
January 20, 2021
Isaac is a fixer of things, watches and clocks. He is taken to Dachau and is brought to the commander's house to fix a grandfather clock, which he does. He then is instructed to fix other things. Anna is brought to the commander's house to be a maid. This is the story of their lives in the last days of Dachau. I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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