Cover image for We're alive and life goes on : a Theresienstadt diary
We're alive and life goes on : a Theresienstadt diary
Roubíčková, Eva Mándlová, 1921-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt & Co., 1998.
Physical Description:
189 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Presents the diary entries of a young woman living in the Jewish ghetto of Theresienstadt, a model concentration camp designed by the Nazis to show to the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.0 8.0 42985.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS135.C97 R68 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"It's a terrible feeling to see the fate of thousands of people dependent on a single person. . . . It seems like a mass judgment to me: life or death."On December 17, 1941, twenty-year-old Eva Mándlová arrived at the Nazi's "model" concentration camp, Theresienstadt. From that day until she was freed three and a half years later, she kept a diary. At times sweet and personal, at times agonized and profound, Eva is a human voice amidst inhuman evil.Through Eva's eyes, the camp sometimes "even resembles normal life," as she makes friends and talks with Benny, or Egon, or Otto. But at any moment, anyone may be "selected" for a transport to "Poland." No one ever returns from "Poland."Never before published, Eva's diary is a true-life Sophie's Choice in which each day brings impossible decisions. As a Gentile man inexplicably helps her, Eva must decide who should share her bounty. As close friends and loved ones are sent away, she has to decide, over and over again, whether to ask to join them on their final journey.

Author Notes

Eva Roubickova is retired and lives in Prague. She regulary visits her daughter and grandchildren in the United States. Zaia Alexander , the translator, is completing her Ph.D. in German literature at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. Eva was 20 in December 1941 when she and her Jewish family were transported from their comfortable home in Bohemia to Theresienstadt. For the next four years until the camp was liberated, she kept a diary in German shorthand, sometimes day by day. Her entries are translated here in her personal voice, without melodrama, just facts and sudden scenarios that tear your heart. We feel her guilt at inadvertently betraying a friend; we feel her gratitude to the Aryan railroad worker who supported her throughout the internment. Like the video narratives at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the very dryness of the telling at times is devastating. However, for the general reader, this primary source material needs the kind of editing and interpretation that Boas did in his powerful We Are Witnesses (1995), in which he combined diary excerpts and historical background; without being intrusive, he shaped the original material into compelling true stories. In contrast, this diary, like most oral histories, is disjointed, repetitive, and without context. The introduction, afterword, translator's note, and lists of people do help, but readers will tire of all the unexplained allusions. Most teens will not understand how Theresienstadt was different from other camps. Buy this for those YAs and adults who know a lot about the Holocaust but want to research what it was like for one young woman who wrote it all down. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Born in 1921 to an affluent family in what is now the Czech Republic, the author was, in December 1941, among the first Jews to be deported from Prague to Theresienstadt. There she survives the war, all the while chronicling her experiences in workmanlike fashion. Attempting to master the cruel exigencies of the camp, she devotes more attention to day-to-day matters than to examining her extraordinary circumstances, and her reports reflect an understandable myopia: she reserves her wrath for cooks who give large portions to their friends ("It's scandalous what goes on in the kitchen"), not the Nazi officials. As an old-timer, she complains when transports to Poland are formed of other longtime prisoners while newly arrived children remain in camp ("That's not fair"), and her reactions to the transports demonstrate a heartbreaking credulity ("Poland couldn't be worse than here on the floor," she writes about an appallingly overcrowded barracks). Given the author's modest literary gifts, her diary is of interest chiefly for what can be extrapolated from it, but the brief endnotes here do not provide sufficient explanation or context. For those dedicated to learning more about the Holocaust, however, the author's perspective may be of value in piecing together an authentic view of life inside Theresienstadt. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up‘A direct translation of the author's diary of her experiences in the Theresienstadt concentration camp from December 1941 until the May 1945 Allied liberation. Unlike Anne Frank's diary, which was intentionally written in a very readable narrative style, Roubícková's is more a series of hastily written notes detailing the small incidents and daily changes in regulations that became the norm for her family and her friends. Forced to move from one barracks to another to make room for new arrivals, and prompted to steal vegetables from the garden where she worked in order to keep her family alive, the young woman was constantly fearful that she, her parents, and her friends would be chosen for one of the frequent transports to Poland. Her acquaintance with an Aryan man who was part of an illegal smuggling ring assured her sufficient food and clothing, as well as safety from the transports. Despite an introductory note by the author and some explanatory information on the concentration camp appended by the translator, the writing proves tedious at times. A glossary of names and terms offers little help in understanding some confusing entries. Nevertheless, this first-person testimony of life in Terezín (a camp used as a "model" by the Nazis) is a valuable living documentary of Hitler's treatment of the Jews.‘Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.