FRAGMENTS OF ISABELLA: A Memoir of Auschwitz by Isabella Leitner

FRAGMENTS OF ISABELLA: A Memoir of Auschwitz

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Auschwitz, Birnbaumel, Bergen-Belsen: a survivor's chilling reminiscences of an unerasable legacy. Hungarian Isabella Katz, her mother, sisters, and brother were transported to Auschwitz one Monday in May, 1944. By Wednesday, her mother and one sister were dead, her brother forever separated; the four remaining sisters survived for six months, avoiding the camp's Dr. Mengele who ""with a flick of his thumb and a whistle"" determined the daily selection of victims. At Birnbaumel, still together, they endured more maddening games: when prisoners were missing, the Germans would boil potatoes, and the aroma would flush them out. A few months later, the sisters, en route to Bergen-Belsen, suffered a baffling episode. For months, the four had acted as one; why, in their momentary (and successful) break for freedom, didn't sister Cipi follow the other three? Isabella offers these harsh memories--much like other survivors' accounts--in a series of spare vignettes. She was twenty-ish at the time, but this hasn't the keen literary vision of, say, Borowski. Yet it is an undeniably urgent summons of what Elie Wiesel (in A Jew Today, p. 872) has called ""the cursed and spellbound universe survivors carry within themselves.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1978
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell