A dramatic Holocaust memoir about young love and survival.
Though told in Werber's voice, the book was written by Keller (Director of Graduate Studies/Fordham Univ.; Generating Bodies and Gendered Selves: The Rhetoric of Reproduction in Early Modern England, 2006). Werber's son urged Keller to interview his mother and write about her experiences of World War II. After 60 years of reticence, the Long Island–based Werber revealed the entirety of her hardships, including the loss of a first husband whose existence she had theretofore kept secret from her children. Born in Radom, Poland, at age 14 Werber was forced to live in a small Jewish ghetto. A year later she was laboring in a factory, in conditions so brutal that mistakes cost workers their lives. "We were called the armaments workers," Werber explains, "but really, we were slaves, half starving, beyond exhausted." Within a matter of months, Werber's brother was killed and her mother, grandparents and most of her aunts and uncles had been taken away. At 15, Werber fell in love with a Jewish police officer, Heniek, more than 10 years her senior, who got her a new job in a kitchen. The two married quickly in the hopes of escaping as part of a new German exchange with Argentina. Away from the ghetto when the first "exchange" happened, Werber learned that all of the German hopefuls had been shot. After witnessing many deaths, Werber survived many close calls, as well as time at Auschwitz. Liberated in 1945, Werber moved to Germany, where she met her second husband, Jack, to whom she was married until his death in 2006. Werber's story is wholly engrossing, written with exceptional immediacy and attention to detail.
A deeply affecting addition to Holocaust literature.