The daughter of a Jewish seed exporter, the author was born Mira Ryczke in 1923 in a suburb of the Baltic seaport of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland). Her childhood was happy, and she learned to cherish her faith and heritage. Through the 1930s, Mira's family remained in the Danzig area despite a changing political climate that was compelling many friends and neighbors to leave. With the Polish capitulation to Germany in the autumn of 1939, however, Mira and her family were forced from their home. In calm, straightforward prose - which makes her story all the more harrowing - Kimmelman recalls the horrors that befell her and those she loved. Sent to Auschwitz in 1944, she escaped the gas chambers by being selected for slave labor. Finally, as the tide of war turned against Germany, Mira was among those transported to Bergen-Belsen, where tens of thousands were dying from starvation, disease, and exposure. In April 1945, British troops liberated the camp, and Mira was eventually reunited with her father. Most of the other members of her family had perished.
"Simply written and unflinchingly detailed." (Publishers Weekly)
"Kimmelman writes of the terror and anguish...The result is this compelling memoir." (Booklist)
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4.5* - memoir of a survivor
This isn't the first memoir from a holocaust survivor that I've read/listened to, and I appreciate listening to each and every one. I enjoy reading military history (audio)books and personal memoirs are an important complement to historical accounts of events. With each history book and each memoir that I read, it adds a little more to my understanding of that period of time. And, it helps me understand the context of current events better as well.
One of the main reason why I enjoy reading memoirs from the WW2 era is to understand the motives and behaviours of different people. Did the 'good guys' always behave honourably? Did the 'bad guys' always behave reprehensibly? The more I read, the more nuanced my understanding becomes. I'm always particularly curious about the feelings that holocaust survivors have towards German citizens, non-Jewish friends and neighbours, camp guards, factory managers that used slave labour, and so on. The author, indeed, comments that some survivors are much less forgiving than others - that is very interesting to me and it is one of the things that makes survivor memoirs so compelling. (I realize that I start to experience vicarious trauma when I read too many grisly details about atrocities, so that is not what draws me to survivor memoirs.) Towards the end of the book, the author commented that when she emigrated to the United States, she was clearly and strongly discouraged from talking about her experiences (she mentioned that she would wear long sleeves while at work, to cover the prisoner ID number tattooed on her arm). This is something that I haven't appreciated when reading/listening to other literature relating to the holocaust; my assumption was that survivors who moved to the States were reluctant to talk because of personal trauma, not because they felt pressured not to talk about their experiences. This is a theme that I'd like to understand better, so it's something that I'll look for when listening/reading to other books on this subject.
Just like every victim of the holocaust has a unique story to tell, every reader of memoirs such as this will have a unique reaction after hearing that story. I'm glad that memoirs such as these exist; I admire the author for sharing her story with me, and I appreciate the 'food for thought' that compels me to reflect about human nature....
A quick word about the narration: I found the narration to be quite well done, except it was a bit slow for my personal preference. Once I slightly sped up the playback speed on my tablet, I was perfectly satisfied with the pace and tone of the narration.
I provided my personal opinion in exchange for a complimentary copy of the audiobook from the author, narrator, or publisher.
- Christine Newton
Important and interesting book.
I don't know
Auschwitz #34207 the Joe Rubenstein story. Both are about persons who went through awful things in Auschwitz and other places during WW2. Both books are good and interesting. I would recommend this one for more sensitive readers though because it doesn't describe the details of the awful things as much.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator or publisher.