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Summary

The UK's only war crimes trial took place in 1999 and had its origins in the horrors of the Holocaust, but only now in The Ticket Collector from Belarus can the full story be told.

The Ticket Collector from Belarus tells the remarkable story of two interwoven journeys. Ben-Zion Blustein and Andrei Sawoniuk were childhood friends in 1930s Domachevo, a holiday and health resort in what is now Belarus. During the events that followed the Nazi invasion in 1941, they became the bitterest of enemies. After the war, Ben-Zion made his way to Israel, and ‘Andrusha the bastard’ to England, where he found work as a British Rail ticket collector in London.

They next confronted each other in the Old Bailey, more than half a century later, where one was the principal prosecution witness and the other charged with a fraction of the number of murders he was alleged to have committed. There was no physical evidence, just one man’s word against another, leaving the jury with a series of agonising dilemmas: could any witness statement be trusted so long after the event? Was Andrusha a brutal killer, a hapless pawn or a scapegoat? And were his furious protests a sign of guilt or the justified anger of an innocent old man? 

Mike Anderson was gripped by the story, and so began his quest to find the truth about this astonishing case and the people at its heart. As he discovered, it was even more remarkable than he could ever have imagined. 

©2022 Mike Anderson and Neil Hanson (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, UK

Critic reviews

"Brilliantly gripping." (Sunday Times)

"Compelling." (Daily Mail

"Heart-rending." (Sunday Telegraph

"Excellent." (The Times

"Engrossing." (Independent

What listeners say about The Ticket Collector from Belarus

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superb

Harrowing, compelling, outstanding. a fantastic account of events during the atrocities and the efforts of the war crimes unit

1 person found this helpful

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Astounding.

An utterly astounding book with captivating narration - I can’t recommend this title enough: read this book!

1 person found this helpful

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Documentary style rather than dramatisation

I have been enjoying several other books based on real events and dramatised, so was surprised and a bit disappointed that this was not in that category.

Instead a very dry narrative of events was presented, with detailed accounts of the atrocities and then the trial. With a dramatisation you are sucked into the story and the characters, whereas this was a much more academic experience.

An important account to hear, of a truly horrific set of crimes, but this mode of telling was not for me.

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Amazing

Cannot recommend enough. Exciting, fascinating, harrowing and very moving. A very personal account of one of history's darkest moments.

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Emotional listen!

The few words I can write here couldn’t portray the emotions of this story! The personal viewpoint of this particular story within the holocaust is heart wrenching! The setting of the story in Domachevo, to the setting of the court room drama may have been more than 50 years, but the story, and the reader brought it back into our consciousness. A must listen/read!!

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Fascinating

This book was so well put together. It was so beautifully read, you felt you were in court.

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  • PJ
  • 07-04-22

Tragic, Rivetting account.

This is an incredible insight into the horrors of World War 2 and the Nazi invasion of Eastern Europe. It must have left a scar that will take centuries to heal. The story is brilliantly told by the narrator. It is a truly epic account by the author. The only little criticism is that the detail of the court proceedings are tedious at times.

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Very well written

This has been researched and very well written the story has some heart breaking piece’s about the only war crimes trial in the uk very fascinating it’s a must listen to learn from the past

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Extraordinary Story

So painful to listen to memories of those who survived. Incredulity over the crimes that one single foul human can commit.
And finally, shame that we did not hunt down more of these distortions of humanity. Also a reminder that war and conflict can allow them to blossom.
This is dispassionately read which makes it all the more horrifying.

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outstanding

could not stop listening. moving in parts. Explains judicial system and obstacles, issues that arise.
Narration is very good.

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  • Sue N.
  • 21-04-22

a captivating sequel of events

This is not just a war crime trial - it also gives an in depth account of the complexities of bringing a war criminal to justice. Intriguing story line as well as a detailed description of life during the German occupation in Eastern Europe.