Includes the memoirs of five young women. For some among them, their paths crossed during the Holocaust, whether in Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, or elsewhere, although they did not know it at the time. Each woman tells the story of her own survival and the fate of her family, from Poland, Transnistria, Czech Silesia, prison in the Soviet Union, Slovakia and other countries, to liberation.
Isabelle Choko-Sztrauch-Galewska,”My First Life”: The memoir vividly describes Isabelle’s life as an adolescent in the Lodz ghetto and then her survival in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. In the camps, she stayed close to her mother, but her mother died in her hands in Belsen shortly before liberation. Isabelle recovered from typhus and pleurisy in Sweden and later moved to France to live with her uncle, the only survivor of the family.
Frances Irwin, “Remember to be a Good Human Being”: A Memoir of Life and the Holocaust. At seventeen, Frances snuck out of the Końskie ghetto through sewers to get food for her family. After almost two years imprisonment in Auschwitz-Birkenau, she endured a death march to Mauthausen and was liberated from that camp‘s Lenzing sub-camp. She immigrated to the U.S., where she became a lecturer on the Holocaust for Facing History and Ourselves and a member of the board and executive committee of Hillel at Brooklyn College.
Lotti Kahana Aufleger, Survival: The inspiring story of a woman willing to make almost any sacrifice to save her ill husband, six-year-old daughter, and elderly parents from the Romanian-run (and Ukrainian assisted) camps in Transnistria. With resourcefulness and courage, Lotti and Siegfried rescued the family from extreme brutality and from the murderous Aktions, in which the camp inmates were taken across the Bug River to be killed.
Margit Raab Kalina, “The Last Time I Saw Them – Memoir 1939-1945”: At the war’s outbreak, 16-year old Margit and her family fled Karvina (Czech Silesia) to Eastern Poland. After her father was killed in a bomb-raid, the family fled westward to Tarnów, where the Gestapo shot Margit’s mother. Margit worked at the Madritsch textile factory there and then in the Płaszów labor camp, was deported to Auschwitz, and from there to Bergen-Belsen. After liberation, she joined her only surviving relatives in Bratislava.
Jane Lipski,”My Escape into Prison and Other Memories of a Stolen Youth, 1939-1948”: This is the story of a young woman surviving both the Nazis and Soviet prisons. She was in the Będzin ghetto resistance, and after her family was deported to Auschwitz she escaped to Slovakia, where she met her future husband. Soviet partisans took them to Moscow to be honored as heroes, but imprisoned them instead; she never saw her husband again. Jane bore her son in prison, and miraculously they both survived. She was repatriated to Poland only in 1948 and later settled in the U.S.