A JUMP FOR LIFE by Ruth Altbeker Cyprys


A Survivor's Journal from Nazi-Occupied Poland
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 The Holocaust journal of a lawyer--one of the few women admitted to Warsaw's bar--who survived largely on her considerable wits and nerve. This valuable journal, written just after the war, was discovered by the author's daughter a half century later, after her mother passed away in 1979. As evidenced in this journal, her courage, stamina, and flair for dramatic details are impressive. For instance, she recalls how in 1939 the haughty German victors marched into Warsaw ``through empty streets where fires had not yet been extinguished and human and animal corpses not buried.'' Her portrait of life in the Warsaw Ghetto is made vivid through such images as the portrait of a young beggar who recites poems to earn a few scraps of bread for his formerly wealthy parents. When Cyprys and her young daughter Eva are captured and put aboard a cattle car for Treblinka, she uses a small metal saw she has concealed in her boot to cut through the bars of a window and, after offering her bag of food to reluctant fellow passengers to throw her child out after her, leaps to freedom in the snowy woods. Her Aryan looks, the gift of a Polish marriage certificate, and her facility with languages help her survive and even visit the Warsaw ghetto and witness the uprising in 1943. She was eventually liberated by the Russians and recovered Eva from the Polish woman who had given her shelter. After the war, Cyprys joined her parents and sister in Palestine. She was uncomfortable there, feeling that ``being Jewish was like choosing to be persecuted, choosing death,'' and eventually joined her brother in England. As Martin Gilbert notes in his brief introduction, this lucid and intense journal is most significant for its rare new glimpses into the Warsaw Ghetto and its uprising. (10 photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8264-1036-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Continuum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997


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