Born Survivors

Author: Wendy Holden
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062370273
Release Date: 2015-05-05
Genre: History

The Nazis murdered their husbands but concentration camp prisoners Priska, Rachel, and Anka would not let evil take their unborn children too—a remarkable true story that will appeal to readers of The Lost and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, Born Survivors celebrates three mothers who defied death to give their children life. Eastern Europe, 1944: Three women believe they are pregnant, but are torn from their husbands before they can be certain. Rachel is sent to Auschwitz, unaware that her husband has been shot. Priska and her husband travel there together, but are immediately separated. Also at Auschwitz, Anka hopes in vain to be reunited with her husband. With the rest of their families gassed, these young wives are determined to hold on to all they have left—their lives, and those of their unborn babies. Having concealed their condition from infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, they are forced to work and almost starved to death, living in daily fear of their pregnancies being detected by the SS. In April 1945, as the Allies close in, Priska gives birth. She and her baby, along with Anka, Rachel, and the remaining inmates, are sent to Mauthausen concentration camp on a hellish seventeen-day train journey. Rachel gives birth on the train, and Anka at the camp gates. All believe they will die, but then a miracle occurs. The gas chamber runs out of Zyklon-B, and as the Allied troops near, the SS flee. Against all odds, the three mothers and their newborns survive their treacherous journey to freedom. On the seventieth anniversary of Mauthausen’s liberation from the Nazis by American soldiers, renowned biographer Wendy Holden recounts this extraordinary story of three children united by their mothers’ unbelievable—yet ultimately successful—fight for survival.

The Jewish Women of Ravensbr ck Concentration Camp

Author: Rochelle G. Saidel
Publisher: Terrace Books
ISBN: 9780299198640
Release Date: 2006-03-09
Genre: History

Ravensbrück was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women. Located about fifty miles north of Berlin, the camp was the site of murder by slave labor, torture, starvation, shooting, lethal injection, "medical" experimentation, and gassing. While this camp was designed to hold 5,000 women, the actual figure was six times this number. Between 1939 and 1945, 132,000 women from twenty-three countries were imprisoned in Ravensbrück, including political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses, "asocials" (including Gypsies, prostitutes, and lesbians), criminals, and Jewish women (who made up about 20 percent of the population). Only 15,000 survived. Drawing upon more than sixty narratives and interviews of survivors in the United States, Israel, and Europe as well as unpublished testimonies, documents, and photographs from private archives, Rochelle Saidel provides a vivid collective and individual portrait of Ravensbrück’s Jewish women prisoners. She worked for over twenty years to track down these women whose poignant testimonies deserve to be shared with a wider audience and future generations. Their memoirs provide new perspectives and information about satellite camps (there were about 70 slave labor sub-camps). Here is the story of real daily camp life with the women’s thoughts about food, friendships, fear of rape and sexual abuse, hygiene issues, punishment, work, and resistance. Saidel includes accounts of the women's treatment, their daily struggles to survive, their hopes and fears, their friendships, their survival strategies, and the aftermath. On April 30, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Ravensbrück. They found only 3,000 extremely ill women in the camp, because the Nazis had sent other remaining women on a death march. The Jewish Women of Ravensbrück Concentration Camp reclaims the lost voices of the victims and restores the personal accounts of the survivors.

Rena s Promise

Author: Rena Kornreich Gelissen
Publisher: Beacon Press
ISBN: 9780807095096
Release Date: 2015-02-24
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

An expanded edition of the powerful memoir about two sisters' determination to survive during the Holocaust featuring new and never before revealed information about the first transport of women to Auschwitz Sent to Auschwitz on the first Jewish transport, Rena Kornreich survived the Nazi death camps for over three years. While there she was reunited with her sister Danka. Each day became a struggle to fulfill the promise Rena made to her mother when the family was forced to split apart--a promise to take care of her sister. One of the few Holocaust memoirs about the lives of women in the camps, Rena's Promise is a compelling story of the fleeting human connections that fostered determination and made survival a possibility. From the bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters, to the links between prisoners, and even prisoners and guards, Rena's Promise reminds us of the humanity and hope that survives inordinate inhumanity.

Survivors Club

Author: Michael Bornstein
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
ISBN: 9780374305727
Release Date: 2017-03-07
Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction

A New York Times bestseller “Both moving and memorable, combining the emotional resolve of a memoir with the rhythm of a novel.” —New York Times Book Review In 1945, in a now-famous piece of World War II archival footage, four-year-old Michael Bornstein was filmed by Soviet soldiers as he was carried out of Auschwitz in his grandmother’s arms. Survivors Club tells the unforgettable story of how a father’s courageous wit, a mother’s fierce love, and one perfectly timed illness saved his life, and how others in his family from Zarki, Poland, dodged death at the hands of the Nazis time and again with incredible deftness. Working from his own recollections as well as extensive interviews with relatives and survivors who knew the family, Michael relates his inspirational Holocaust survival story with the help of his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. Shocking, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, this narrative nonfiction offers an indelible depiction of what happened to one Polish village in the wake of the German invasion in 1939. This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum.

Ravensbruck

Author: Sarah Helm
Publisher: Anchor
ISBN: 9780385539111
Release Date: 2015-03-31
Genre: History

A masterly and moving account of the most horrific hidden atrocity of World War II: Ravensbrück, the only Nazi concentration camp built for women On a sunny morning in May 1939 a phalanx of 867 women—housewives, doctors, opera singers, politicians, prostitutes—was marched through the woods fifty miles north of Berlin, driven on past a shining lake, then herded in through giant gates. Whipping and kicking them were scores of German women guards. Their destination was Ravensbrück, a concentration camp designed specifically for women by Heinrich Himmler, prime architect of the Holocaust. By the end of the war 130,000 women from more than twenty different European countries had been imprisoned there; among the prominent names were Geneviève de Gaulle, General de Gaulle’s niece, and Gemma La Guardia Gluck, sister of the wartime mayor of New York. Only a small number of these women were Jewish; Ravensbrück was largely a place for the Nazis to eliminate other inferior beings—social outcasts, Gypsies, political enemies, foreign resisters, the sick, the disabled, and the “mad.” Over six years the prisoners endured beatings, torture, slave labor, starvation, and random execution. In the final months of the war, Ravensbrück became an extermination camp. Estimates of the final death toll by April 1945 have ranged from 30,000 to 90,000. For decades the story of Ravensbrück was hidden behind the Iron Curtain, and today it is still little known. Using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War and interviews with survivors who have never talked before, Sarah Helm has ventured into the heart of the camp, demonstrating for the reader in riveting detail how easily and quickly the unthinkable horror evolved. Far more than a catalog of atrocities, however, Ravensbrück is also a compelling account of what one survivor called “the heroism, superhuman tenacity, and exceptional willpower to survive.” For every prisoner whose strength failed, another found the will to resist through acts of self-sacrifice and friendship, as well as sabotage, protest, and escape. While the core of this book is told from inside the camp, the story also sheds new light on the evolution of the wider genocide, the impotence of the world to respond, and Himmler’s final attempt to seek a separate peace with the Allies using the women of Ravensbrück as a bargaining chip. Chilling, inspiring, and deeply unsettling, Ravensbrück is a groundbreaking work of historical investigation. With rare clarity, it reminds us of the capacity of humankind both for bestial cruelty and for courage against all odds. From the Hardcover edition.

The Pianist

Author: Wladyslaw Szpilman
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 9781466837621
Release Date: 2000-09-02
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Named one of the Best Books of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Pianist is now a major motion picture directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody (Son of Sam). The Pianist won the Cannes Film Festival's most prestigious prize—the Palme d'Or. On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside—so loudly that he couldn't hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw: That day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air. Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling.

By Chance Alone

Author: Max Eisen
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9781443448550
Release Date: 2016-04-19
Genre: History

In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz comes a new memoir by Canadian survivor More than 70 years after the Nazi camps were liberated by the Allies, a new Canadian Holocaust memoir details the rural Hungarian deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau, back-breaking slave labour in Auschwitz I, the infamous “death march” in January 1945, the painful aftermath of liberation, a journey of physical and psychological healing. Tibor “Max” Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. He had an extended family of sixty members, and he lived in a family compound with his parents, his two younger brothers, his baby sister, his paternal grandparents and his uncle and aunt. In the spring of1944--five and a half years after his region had been annexed to Hungary and the morning after the family’s yearly Passover Seder--gendarmes forcibly removed Eisen and his family from their home. They were brought to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. At fifteen years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and he was inducted into the camp as a slave labourer. One day, Eisen received a terrible blow from an SS guard. Severely injured, he was dumped at the hospital where a Polish political prisoner and physician, Tadeusz Orzeszko, operated on him. Despite his significant injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner in the operating room. After his liberation and new trials in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last twenty-two years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world. The author will be donating 100% of his royalties for this book to registered charities that promote education and humane causes.

Forbidden Strawberries

Author: Tsiporah Hurvits
Publisher: Multi Educator, Incorporated
ISBN: 188588138X
Release Date: 2010
Genre: History

"Cipora Hurwitz (Fela Rozensztajn) was less than six years old when the Second World War erupted. All at once the life of her tranquil family became a Hell. The eldest son survived by the skin of his teeth by fleeing to the Soviet Union. The second son was murdered when only sixteen. The parents, by great efforts, succeeded in hiding their little daughter and thereby save (sic) her life -- but they themselves were unable to escape the hands of the murderers. Cipora, as yet a young child and an orphan, was miraculously saved after surviving the Budzyn camps and the Majdanek extermination camp. The author relates the story of her life during the Holocaust to a delegation of Hashomer Hatzair youth and Israeli High School students on a mission to the death camps in Poland. Concurrently, she presents her testimony on what transpired to her family and friends who were exterminated, thus paying tribute to their memory." -- back cover.

Underground in Berlin

Author: Marie Jalowicz Simon
Publisher: Little, Brown
ISBN: 9780316382113
Release Date: 2015-09-08
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

A thrilling piece of undiscovered history, this is the true account of a young Jewish woman who survived World War II in Berlin. In 1942, Marie Jalowicz, a twenty-year-old Jewish Berliner, made the extraordinary decision to do everything in her power to avoid the concentration camps. She removed her yellow star, took on an assumed identity, and disappeared into the city. In the years that followed, Marie took shelter wherever it was offered, living with the strangest of bedfellows, from circus performers and committed communists to convinced Nazis. As Marie quickly learned, however, compassion and cruelty are very often two sides of the same coin. Fifty years later, Marie agreed to tell her story for the first time. Told in her own voice with unflinching honesty, Underground in Berlin is a book like no other, of the surreal, sometimes absurd day-to-day life in wartime Berlin. This might be just one woman's story, but it gives an unparalleled glimpse into what it truly means to be human.

Irena s Children

Author: Tilar J. Mazzeo
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781476778525
Release Date: 2016-09-27
Genre: History

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While she was there, she began to understand the fate that awaited the Jewish families who were unable to leave. Soon she reached out to the trapped families, going from door to door and asking them to trust her with their young children. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings. But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept a secret list buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On it were the names and true identities of these Jewish children, recorded so their families could find them after the war. She could not know that more than ninety percent of their families would perish. Irena’s Children, “a fascinating narrative of…the extraordinary moral and physical courage of those who chose to fight inhumanity with compassion” (Chaya Deitsch author of Here and There: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family), is a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

If This is a Woman

Author: Sarah Helm
Publisher: Abacus
ISBN: 034912003X
Release Date: 2016-01
Genre: History

On a sunny morning in May 1939 a phalanx of 800 women - housewives, doctors, opera singers, politicians, prostitutes - were marched through the woods fifty miles north of Berlin, driven on past a shining lake, then herded through giant gates. Whipping and kicking them were scores of German women guards. Their destination was Ravensbrück, a concentration camp designed specifically for women by Heinrich Himmler, prime architect of the Nazi genocide. For decades the story of Ravensbrück was hidden behind the Iron Curtain and today is still little known. Using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War, and interviews with survivors who have never spoken before, Helm has ventured into the heart of the camp, demonstrating for the reader in riveting detail how easily and quickly the unthinkable horror evolved.

Hope Is the Last to Die

Author: Halina Birenbaum
Publisher: M.E. Sharpe
ISBN: 0765633736
Release Date: 1996-06-26
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

This book, a classic of Holocaust reminiscence, was originally published in Poland in 1967. Covering the years 1939-1945, it is the author's own account of her experience growing up in the Warsaw ghetto and her eventual deportation to, imprisonment in, and survival of the Majdanek, Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and Neustadt-Glewe camps. Since the old, the weak, and children were summarily executed by the Nazis in these camps, Mrs. Birenbaum's survival and coming of age is all the more remarkable. The book is notable for its simplicity and clarity of style, and is told with a first-person immediacy that makes the stark terror of its content stand out. This new edition contains revisions made by the author to the original English translation, and is expanded with a new epilogue and postscripts that bring her story up to date and complete the circle of Mrs. Birenbaum's experiences.

The Waiting

Author: Cathy LaGrow
Publisher: NavPress
ISBN: 9781496408600
Release Date: 2015-01-30
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Now with a new afterword! A five star–reviewed, unforgettable story that bestselling author Homer Hickam calls “one of the most eloquent, moving, irresistible true stories” he’s ever read. The Waiting will touch your heart and make you believe in love’s enduring legacy, as well as the power of prayer. In 1928, 16-year-old Minka was on a picnic in the woods when she was assaulted and raped. And suddenly this innocent farm girl—who still thought the stork brought babies—was pregnant. The story that follows has been almost a hundred years in the making. After a lifetime of separation, Minka whispered an impossible prayer for the first time: Lord, I’d like to see Betty Jane before I die. What happened next was a miracle. Written by Cathy LaGrow (Minka’s granddaughter), The Waiting brings three generations of this most unusual family together over the course of a century in a story of faith that triumphs, forgiveness that sets us free, and love that never forgets. (As seen on The Today Show.)

The Lost

Author: Daniel Mendelsohn
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062314703
Release Date: 2013-11-12
Genre: History

In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic—part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work—that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.