All But My Life

by Gerda Weissmann Klein

Book, 1995



Call number




New York : Hill and Wang, 1995.


All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey. Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps,with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead. Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that theeffects of hatred can be overcome.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Doey
This is the most moving and beautiful book written by a Holocaust survivor I have ever read. Her descriptions are chilling, but the warmth and caring she holds onto through her trials are an inspiration to us all. Good can overcome evil. I have read this book thre times and I cry everytime I read
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this book. Her accomplishments after the war are equally powerful. Way better than anything Elie Wiesel has written. Her triumph stays with you long after the book is over. With her believe in forgiveness and her work with the Holocaust Museum and insuring that the memories of survivors are not lost, Klein provides us with a lesson on how to live our lives after tragedy, to not give in to brutality and blind ambition. She is a remarkable woman and her book will inspire you.
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LibraryThing member nitalaabs
All But My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein is an excellent book full of hope and despair. The book starts in Bielitz, Poland at the beginning of World War 2. Most precisely, this book starts when the war started to affect her life-9:10 in the morning of September 3, 1939.

Gerda Weissmann was a happy
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girl who lived in a large Polish town named Bielitz. After the Germans took over, she was slowly deprived of all of the privileges that we take for granted. One by one, the Germans tore her family apart and moved her to a Ghetto. After the Ghetto, Gerda is shipped to various work camps over the course of six years. Gerda gives hope to many of the girls through her creativity and selfless actions. In most of the camps, work conditions are hard and food is scarce. After the turning point in the war, when the Germans realize they are going to lose, Gerda and thousands of other young girls are forced to march to their death at the infamous extermination camp Auschwitz.

The author is trying to tell us to never lose hope. That is the only way you could survive during the Holocaust. She wants us to know that we must see each other as equals. We are no better than anyone else just because we have a different skin color. It is our actions that determine who we are.
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LibraryThing member EmScape
As someone who is not a native speaker of English, Gerda Weissmann Klein writes masterfully. Her recollections of the time she spent as a young Jewish girl under Nazi rule are vividly, heartbreakingly eloquent. Klein spent the first part of the war with her parents in their home town of Beilitz,
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Poland, marginalized by the German invaders and forced to live with more and more hardship before finally being separated from them and sent to a series of work camps. After being forced to march from the final camp through the wintry wilderness of Germany to Czechoslovakia, she is finally liberated.
I guess I had a picture in my head of all the Jews being rounded up immediately at the start of the war, and spending the entire time in camps, which some were able to survive. I always wondered why, for the most part, they did not fight back. I realize after reading this book that this was a very inaccurate and uninformed idea. The marginalization happened so gradually and the propaganda was so overwhelming, plus people like Gerda had such a faith in humankind, thinking that people could not possibly be so cruel as to do the things they eventually ended up doing. I am ashamed that I never thought to learn more about this era prior to now.
Despite the horrid atrocity of the events in her life, Gerda writes with such sunniness and vitality that her story is not unbearably depressing. It is eminently readable and highly recommended.
The only thing I was bothered by while reading this was Klein's habit of telling what ended up happening to people as soon as we meet them, even though they continue to play into the story. For example, upon meeting Suse in the work camp, Gerda tells us Suse will die in the morning of the day they are liberated. Sues then continues to figure in to the story, all the while the reader knows she's doomed. This steals a little from the story, as the reader, already knowing Gerda will survive and Suse will not, has been spoiled by this knowledge.
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LibraryThing member dichosa
Came across this book by chance, or maybe fate. Amazing story of the author's life as a young girl in Poland when Germany invades through her liberation at the end of the war. She suffers the loss of her family, her freedom, and her childhood. As with Anne Frank, she discusses the struggle to live
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through the eyes and heart of a young girl growing into a women. This story stands apart due to her flowing writing style, her honesty of emotions, and the amazing love story! The U.S. soldier who 'liberated' her falls in love with her, and they later marry.

This is not a translation-the author emigrates to U.S.A. and writes this and several other books in English. Very few books, do I read straight through, but this is one. Made a profound impression on me.
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LibraryThing member khooper
This is an amazing book about horrific events that a young girl had to go through because of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. It is a book on many families being ripped apart, and the few that remain are haunted with memories.
It all started with the Nazis invading Poland and soon Jews were not allowed
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to do anything. Soon her brother was taken way but Gerda and her family received letters from him on occasion. After 3 month of war the family had to move to the basement of their house so the German mid that lived in the basement could have a better house. One thing that Gerda talks about a lot was her garden and how she missed it. She went with her friend and her mother to an art prison I won’t to say where she met Abek, who soon fell in love with her. He said that once the war was over they would marry. Gerda’s family move once again and they had to start working Gerda and her mother had to work at the factory sowing while her father had to do something else outside. They then received notice that they will be move to find more work first her Father then her and her mother. The night before her dad left she had promised him one thing to wear her ski boots on the day that she leaves. She thought he was silly but she did it any ways. Without those boots during the harsh winters, she believes she would have not survived. She moved from camp to camp throughout the years meeting very nice girls from all over. When the Russians and other Forces started to advance over 75 thousand girls were marched all over Germany and into Czechoslovakia. These marches were later called Death Marches. As she saw her friends dying from hunger and disease she surveyed but only barely. Then she meet the American solider that she would eventually marry.
I love this book! But that does not sound good because of all the horrific events that are contained within the pages of this book, but I am amazed at the Hope and Faith of Gerda. I am also stunned by the horrific event that happened to her. I could not get through the book without crying several times. The best part in my opinion is how she was able to survive and find love to keep her strong. Stunning Book!
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LibraryThing member Bryon.Hancock
Gerda was force to live in the basement of here better house. They sell most of there stuff to have money. Arthur go to a labor camp but then escapes to russia and gets a job. Some of the money goes to his family. Abek is a person who very loves Gerda. however gerda doesn't have the same feelings.
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here father is taken by the gestapos. Gerda is forced to a train to sosnowitz. they are moved to different labor camps. Abek send her clothes. Gerda also gets sick. she was forced to work. they are then moved to Marzdorf. That is where a blond woman with a bull whip. They then move to and concretration camp called landeshut. The girls are now forced to march across the snow hills. At there last camp which was aboned was liberated by a us soldier whichwould be gerda's future husband. she is sent to a hospital to get treatment.

I really like this book. It tells a good view of the holocaust. I didn't like because it was torture to reads it. Man killing man is against the human nature.I am glad that I read it though. I now have a better understanding of the holocaust. I also read the cage. The all but my life is a lot better then the cage.
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LibraryThing member JovanH470Volny
In 1942 In a polish town called Beilitz, Gerda Weissman, a teen at her prime, is faced with the reality of war, or more so the Nazi regime. So far the Nazi's have only taken her country, but more is yet to come. Her religion, Jewish automatically makes her a "threat" to the National Socialist
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German Workers Party. However the term "threat" ids only regarded as a mask of what significance the Jewish people represent to Hitler. Gerda and her family are smarter than most of the Jewish folk in their town, they regard the Nazis as serious adversaries to their lives and what they hold precious. While other residents are claiming liberation the Weissman family is busy preparing for the worst. Much later, after Gerda's brother left to go find a means of rebellion against the German, Gerda and her parents find themselves living in the Beilitz ghetto it is ultimately a passageway to the notorious Nazi camps where it is speculated many Jews have been killed. After only but a few days of living in the ghetto, Gerda's father has been deported by train to a camp, one of unknown sort. A few days later, Gerda and her mother face the same fate. Gerda and her mother ended up being separated due to a difference in age. Now, not knowing where her mother is, or her fate, Gerda ends up in a labor camp. At first glance Gerda expects the people in charge to be black-hearted people who have no care for Gerda’s people, and would kill them at a tic of the clock. However Gerda learns that these people are not the cold-hearted, narcissists she once thought she learns over the span of a year, that these people are kindhearted individuals that respect the people who reside in the camp. Having moved on from her first camp, Gerda spent more than a week in another labor camp, the camp was much, much different from the previous. Working conditions were harsh, and the Nazis in charge were harsher. But her placement in this camp was a mistake; Gerda and her friend Ilse were not to be placed in this camp because they had produced enough material in their last work camp. Gerda was then transferred to a relocated version of her first camp. This is where Gerda find her admirer, Abek, who voluntarily came to the camp just to be closer to Gerda. However Gerda finds this experience very awkward. Later Gerda is forced to leave Abek to be deported to another camp. This is the last camp she must endure until she faces the greatest hardship of all. The camp that Gerda is staying at is split up into two groups. These two groups march away from the camp in the middle of winter because Auschwitz, the foremost death camp has been overrun. It is the middle of winter, and the group Gerda is in is forced to march many, many kilometers in the cold. The trip is overbearing, and many hardships are endured, and death was experienced thoroughly. At one part Gerda mention that she witnesses another girl break off her toes as if they were twigs. At the end of the journey, Gerda has lost all her friends, along the march many who were too sick or weak to go on were shot and killed. One of Gerda’s friends Suse, died on the day they were liberated. After the Americans took the survivors to a hospital, Gerda spent many days in rejuvenation, and almost had her feet amputated. However, in her days of regaining herself, she meets the love of her life, and they happily marry in America.

This book had many, features to it that could've made you cry. To imagine what this young lady, only 16 years of age, had to endure" both of her parents were taken from her and her brother as well. Most people would have been completely traumatized by her experienced, and for her being able to share what she had seen, it's unthinkable. I thought the book was very touching, it told about unimaginable things that took place during this period in time. This is one of the few books I would consider reading again; it is very interesting to read. I would not recommend this book to those of younger age, because many of the things in this book, they could not fully comprehend.
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LibraryThing member samantha.nop
This is about Gerda Weissmann Klein and her life in the Holocaust. The book starts out when the Germans are invading Poland. Gerda was only 16 at the time. A few days after the Germans invaded Poland, Gerda's older brother, Arthur, was forced to leave and work. Gerda's family was afraid he wouldn't
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come back. Only a few days later, Gerda's family is forced to live in their own basement. After a few months, Gerda and her parents are moved to the Beilitz ghetto. Not soon after, Gerda's father is forced to work in a different camp, away from Gerda and her mother. Gerda and her mother leave the ghetto to go a transit camp. At the transit camp, Gerda and her mother are separated because of the age difference. Now Gerda is alone without any knowledge of what is to become of her family. Gerda is forced to work in labor camps, working at a weaving factory. Gerda does make some friends along the way. After two years of working in labor camps, Gerda must march during the winter. After weeks of marching, it is finally liberation day. Gerda is happy, although all her friends had died along the way. In the hospital, Gerda meets Kurt Klein, and they get married in America.
This book was very upsetting. Gerda went through times nobody should go through but still do. I felt bad when she realized, her brother, mother and father were dead. After reading this book, I have a much better understanding of a Jew's life during the Holocaust. It is absolutely heartbreaking. As hard as it is, Gerda still went on living and did her best to survive and I admire her for that. Everybody should get a chance to read this book. I will never forget this book because it's something everybody should know about. It's a story that should be read and told so that the lives that were lost in WW2 are not forgotten.
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LibraryThing member Aaron.Korff
All But My Life is memoir by Gerda Wiessmann Klein. Gerda survived the Holocaust and this is her experiences. The book first starts out when the Germans attack Poland. Gerda is Jewish and has to move to the basement. Then they take her brother away how is named Arthur. Then her, her mother, and
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father have to move to the ghetto. Then the father gets taken away, then the mother. Gerda has to go from camp to camp working for the Germans. Then she has to go on the death march, and all of her friends died. The one day in Volary, Czechoslovakia, they are liberated. She meets a German American how is Jewish and they fall in love. She never sees any of her family again but she starts a new one with Kurt. She now lives in Arizona with Kurt.
I really liked this book because it was so interesting. I never really liked diaries or memoirs but this was a good book. The book was so sad because a lot of sad stuff happened. Probably the saddest part was when Arthur left then her father then her mother. It shows that is a couple few days. Also it is sad when the people where ran over by horses even the babies. I had to read this book for school and thought that it was going to be bad but it turned out good. The only part I did not like was the epilogue. It dragged on and on. Over all it is a great book.
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LibraryThing member seoulful
How do people survive when separated from family and all they know and are placed in the most extreme conditions as found in a Nazi work camp? As a teenager, Gerda Weissmann not only found the strength to cope with the horrors that awaited her, but through it all she managed to maintain her
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integrity. Under such conditions, she showed that one does not have to become an animal to survive. One of her liberators became her future husband and she lived a very full life afterwards in America.
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LibraryThing member Kirstin2015
All But My Life is an incredibly amazing and moving memoir of a girl, Gerda Weissmann Klein, who survived the Holocaust. Throughout the book Gerda describes in great detail how terrible the camps she lived in were and how awful the Nazis treated the Jews. She tells about her experience as a Jew who
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unfortunately was wrongly mistreated because of her religion.

This book is so devastating and real. It's hard to read about the horribleness of it all. Reading this has really gave me a more sense of understanding to what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. I don't think I ever really knew just how bad it was, and of course I still don't know, but All But My Life surely opened my eyes and brought to my attention the evil of the Nazis.
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LibraryThing member tben7672
In the book "All But My Life", a Polish girl named Gerda at age 15 enters a life of cruily and labor. At her home in a town called Bielitz, Gerda, Arthur (her brother), and their Mama and Papa under go huge changes such as Papa lossing his job, Arthur going to the Government by order of the Nazi,
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and they have to live in their basement. Food became scare and the family had to sew and sell all their belongings in order to stop them from starving. Once the family is forced to live in a Jewish ghetto, she and mama work in a town 2 hours away and come back home for the night. As the Jews were forced to go to camps, Gerda is separeted from her mother and father and she never sees them again. Along with her friends Ilse, Suse, and Liesle, they work in a textile camp in Burchberg, endure the extereme work conditions of Gruneburg, and then are sent to work at another textile camp in Landeshut. To kill off the Jews, the Nazi force all the girls on a 350km death march through Germany. Out of 4000 girls, only 120 survived including Gerda. All of her friends died on the journey and Liesle and Suse died on the day of her liberation. Once in the Red Cross hospitle, she survives typus and phenomia and is able to walk again. During her recovery, Kurt Klein, a U.S solider who liberated her, visits her as much as he can and sends her letters. When Kurt wanted to take her to Buffalo, she decided to wait until sivilians are aloud to go to the states and she would marry him before they go.

If I could, I would describe this story in much greater detail. It doesn't include the horrors she endured or even the rare happy times she describes. This autobiography clearly tells of the pain and suffering the Jews and other victems of the Holocast had to face head on. I don't know if even I could stand the things she faced without suiside and have the courage and bravery to do whats right. Even though her whole family was wiped out, she found happiness and love in the end just like those fairy tales. Only the only draw back is that she has to face her past the rest of her life.Everyone should read this book to have a true understanding of what she and others face during WW2. I just hope that no one has to face this kind of recless hate ever again.
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LibraryThing member mekenna.hooper
All but my life
All but my life is a wonderful book that made me cry at least four times. It is all about a a girl named . She is a 15 year old girl at the beginning. She is a jewish girl who is part of the holocaust she lived in a house with her mother father and brother. She started to frequently
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see a boy and asked her to marry him after the war and holocaust. Her brother named Arthur he was sent away to a labor camp but escaped. Her mother was sent away to a labor camp. She at first was sent to a transition camp. The boys family that she was seeing lived in the town that she was in. She went and had dinner with them. They were trying to get her a work card. They did but she turned it down to go with her friend to a new camp. Their she made a lot of friends and got into contact with her uncle in turkey and her family well at least her brother. He was captured but escaped again. Her boyfriend would send her gift and her uncle would too. She was liberated in the end and married the man who saved her.
This book was amazing! It was very well written and sad 6 million people died during the holocaust and the survivors have to be overjoyed that they lived but want to be with their family friends and lovers who died during the horrific time.this book should have an option of more than five stars. It mad me cry so many times. It is most definitely for 8th grade and above. Eighth grade is a little young in my thoughts. In the end this book is amazing beyond belief everyone should read it when they are the right age.
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LibraryThing member Beamis12
I first heard about this book from my daughter who is a school teacher in Chicago. Apparently the documentary of this book had been sent to many of the school in the city. The impact is always so much greater when one is reading the words of another's life, so much more personal. I love that this
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starts out with her happy family, her brothers, her neighbors, her friends, such a simple life full of hope. Than they are confronted with the Nazi invasion and things began to change for them very quickly, yet they still held on to little things that provided them with hope. A letter from a family member, deportations that had been postponed, a brother who has manged to escape, a neighbor who brings them food, all of these provide hope. A young childhood quickly changed, I remember one passage that really brought this home for me. Gerda is walking past the pool where in previous summers she had gone to with her friends. Now she is walking past the pool, with a Jewish armband, and while there is still laughing coming from the pool, she is no longer able to go in. Wonderfully poignant book, in the afterward she explains what has happened to her life after the war and why she has felt compelled to write this, her memoir. Wonderful book from a wonderfully strong woman.
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LibraryThing member KateWhalen
All But My Life is a personal story about the holocaust from 1939 to 1945 narrated by Gerda, who begins the holocaust at age 16. As this story progresses there is a better feel as to what people really experienced during this time period and how some people were able to cope. This memoir is very
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moving. I had read a few holocaust literature memoirs, and this is by far my favorite. The style of her writing keeps the book interesting and her personal anecdotes make me feel like I'm watching a movie.
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LibraryThing member JanaRose1
When the Nazi's invade Poland, Gerda and her family are forced to move into their basement. Eventually, her family is separated and sent to different German labor camps. The Germans seem to take everything from Gerda, everything but her life. She barely survives the horrors of the concentration
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camp but quickly regains her spirit and determination. A well written book, this is a look into a difficult part of history. Overall, highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Bookish59
Gerda shares her wonderful, comfortable childhood / teenage years growing up in Bielitz with her parents and older brother, friends, neighbors and beauty of "Little Vienna."

Everything changes once the nazis* invade. Her beloved brother, Arthur, must leave, breaking the hearts of Gerda and her
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parents. Their fur factory is taken over by the nazis. They are forced to live in the cold, moldy basement, often go hungry because of food rationing, and eventually forced to perform hard work in factories for little or no pay. But to make Beilitz Jew-free, the remaining Jews are sent to camps or factories as slave labor. Gerda is separated from her parents and never sees them again.

She suffers demeaning hardships in the many camps and factories she is sent to but is determined to survive. Memories of her loving family, a positive outlook, her friends, and a few kind Germans help her find strength countless times to tolerate hunger, beatings, back-breaking labor, and worry over her brother and parents. She dreams of returning home to her family throughout the dark years. As the tide turns against Germany the nazis step up their brutality, killing more and more of the remaining Jews.

When the war ends, Gerda has lost too much. It will take someone special to understand her loss, and soon her new life begins.

*Not capitalizing this word is by personal choice. I know it doesn't change anything but doing so makes me FEEL as though I've reduced the power of the nazis.
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LibraryThing member ibkennedy
Such beautiful writing about such a horrible time.
LibraryThing member EmanuelofTempe
Shows Judaism to be a diverse religion, describing individuals from Biblical times to the twentieth century who have defined Judaism in different ways, and discussing the religion in the wake of the Holocaust.
LibraryThing member PikeH
This memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein provides readers with a first hand account of Nazi Germany and the holocaust. Gerda Weissmann Klein is a remarkable woman who has been telling her story so that we never forget and continue the fight against genocide anywhere it rears its ugly head. Her story
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was turned in to a documentary that won both and Emmy and the Academy Award. This story of survival and the fight between good and evil will keep the interest of all students.
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LibraryThing member Rdra1962
Grade 9 reading book, that I realized I had already read. The story of a young girl in Poland who lives thru the occupation and defeat by the Nazis. First we see had conditions worsened for Jews, then she is sent to labour camps, and finally the 3 month long Death March. A good intro to the
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Holocaust as it is not as grim as many memoirs (night etc). She is a brave and strong girl who reminds me of Anne Frank. Glad the kids have to read this!
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LibraryThing member skyler.sims
Gerda Weissmann was living in Poland when WW2 started. The germans invaded Poland and destroy the Polish army. She is force to hide until the Germans force them to go to a concentration camp. Their she is force to work in the textile mills. She is transfered many times and soon finds herself
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marching in the frozen winter through Europe. Many people died. She lived as the war ended. She was liberated and soon fell in love with an American soldier.
This is an emotional story. The book show the torture the Jews had to go through. The book is very inspirational. Gerda was very strong and went through such difficult times. The book is very good. The book is very sad and emotioal. The book is a great account of the war and the holocast. This is a good book and is very sad.
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Original publication date



0809024608 / 9780809024605
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