All but My Life by Gerda Weissmann Klein

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Staff Review by Suzanne Colligan:

Originally published in 1957 and now in a new, expanded edition published in 1995, the basis of an Oscar award-winning documentary short, and a perennial on school reading lists, Mrs. Klein’s memoir of surviving the Holocaust is a worthy read for adults, too.

The former Buffalo area resident chronicles her teen years in Poland when Germany invaded in 1939.  Her idyllic childhood is lost as her family adjusts to living in their basement under the watchful eye of the Nazis.  Before being sent to German labor camps, her father urges her not to surrender to suicide and advises her to “wear your boots”, which saved her life.  Gerda is forced to march 300 miles into Czechoslovakia and along the way acquaintances and her best friend die. A day before her 21st birthday, she and 119 other survivors are liberated by the U.S. Army. Her future husband, Lieutenant Kurt Klein, also lost family in the Holocaust.

This edition offers an epilogue where Mrs. Klein talks about her life rebuilt amongst unforgettable loss.  Hers is an incredible story of survival, smarts, hope and dignity restored.

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