Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Elly – My True Story of the Holocaust

Elly Berkovits Gross

Before the Germans came, her father worked hard and her mother was a homemaker. Elly was an only child for ten year’s until her baby brother Adalbert was born. She took great joy in taking care of him, taking him to pick wild strawberries, blackberries, and wildflowers for their mother. Their parents had great dreams for their son … until the spring when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. Life changed dramatically for Elly and her family. Adolf Hitler with his slogan, “Kill the Jews”, spread across one country to another and her family sustained one hardship after another. First her father was forced into hard labor, where he eventually died, then Elly, her mother and young brother were shipped away on cattle cars. As a child, Elly had blond hair, and blue eyes, like her fraternal Grandmother, perhaps that is why she survived the Holocaust – she looked more German than Jewish. Her childhood quickly ended. Although she got a taste of the Jewish discrimination while still living in her hometown of Simleu Silvaniei, Romania, a city in the valley by Meses Mountains. Elly’s nightmare was Auschwitz-II/Birkenau concentration camp in Poland and she never saw her mother or brother again. At the age of 15 she learned to survive horrific conditions that took it’s toll on her emotionally, physically, and personally. She persevered and one long torturous year later, the Allies and American forces freed the survivors of the concentration death camps. Elly’s story is compelling and a must read. From her childhood to loosing her parents and brother, to meeting Dr. Mengele, to meeting her husband, Elly’s story is one of suffering, survival, and finally joy.

This book is written to everyone, chapters are short, poetry is included, and anyone who doubts the reality of the Holocaust will become a believer after reading Elly’s book. About half way through are photographs of family, and concentration camps. It is a must read.

BIBLIO: 2009, Scholastic Inc., Ages 11 Up, $14.99
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Non-Fiction/Memoir
ISBN: 978-0-545-07494-0
REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 9/5/09

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