Cover image for Clara's war : one girl's story of survival
Title:
Clara's war : one girl's story of survival
Author:
Kramer, Clara, 1927-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Ecco Press, 2009.
Physical Description:
xii, 339 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
Polish-born Kramer, president of the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University, recounts her life as a frightened, hungry teenager during the Holocaust who, along with her family, was rescued by righteous gentiles.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.1 18.0 136616.
Personal Subject:
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780061728600
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"A superlative memoir of survival....Few wartime memoirs convey with such harrowing immediacy the evil of the Nazi genocide."
--Daily Telegraph (London)

"One Girl's Story of Survival," Clara's War is based on Clara Kramer's diary of her years spent hiding in an underground bunker with seventeen other people during the Nazi occupation of Poland. In the classic vein of The Diary of Anne Frank--a heart-wrenching and inspiring story of a life lived in fear and cramped quarters--Clara's War is a true story of the Holocaust as told by a remarkable young girl who lived to bear witness.


Author Notes

Clara Kramer is the daughter of a Jewish factory owner who wrote the book Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival. The story is her rmemoir about the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939. It tells of how her hometown of Zolkiew is initially in the Russian occupied part of Poland and how she witnesses several friends and family being killed or deported by the Soviets. When the Russians switch sides and join with the Allies following Germany's invasion of Soviet Union, the Red Army retreats, and the town is occupied by the Nazis. Jews are stripped of their assets and told to relocate to the ghetto, but having heard stories of the treatment of Jews by the Nazis, Clara's family and some friends make the decision to go into hiding.

With the help of Valentin Beck, an ethnic German, and his family, Clara, her family and others are hidden in a purpose-built bunker under Melman's house [ who also share the bunker with Clara's family] , which is no larger than a horse stall. Clara's mother urges her to begin writing a diary so that if they do not survive the war, the world will know what happened to them. This became her memoir - Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survuval.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* For 18 months, a young teen hid with 17 other Polish Jews in a bunker dug under the home of their avowed anti-Semitic neighbor, Beck, while the Nazis occupied their town of Zolkiew. The unrelenting hardships of daily life are spellbinding. With German soldiers moving in upstairs, a snore, a sneeze, a cough could mean the end of us. How to keep children quiet and not smother a four-year-old when she cries; how to use the toilet bucket; how to empty it. When it is safe, the ethnic German Becks lift the trapdoor and bring the Jews food. Unlike Anne Frank, Clara survived; now she lives in New Jersey, and her diary is in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. The blend of the young girl's experience with the insight of the survivor looking back is riveting, especially because there is no idealization neither of the Jews nor of their rescuers. World War II is raging outside; mass deportations are ongoing; bombings are terrifying. But in the house, there is war upstairs with the husband ( our saint ) betraying his wife, Julia, who is plain, arthritic, and the strongest of all. And, in the bunker, the families fight for food, air, and space; some resent taking in children; the wealthy do not share. When the Russians come at last, of the 5,000 Jews in Zolkiew, there are 50 left. And they must save their rescuers. Both a gripping thriller and a heartbreaking drama of human kindness, this is sure to become a classic of Holocaust history.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2009 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Polish-born Kramer, president of the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University, was a teenager when her family and others hid from the Nazis in a secret bunker, rescued by a former housekeeper and her husband, a reputed drunken anti-Semite who turned out to be an avenging angel. Kramer's extensive recollections range from a liaison that threatened the household and daily squabbles in the tomblike underground quarters where food was scarce to their fear of discovery by the Nazis and the shock and desperation of learning about relatives and friends who had been killed. Her sister was sold out by a neighbor boy for a few liters of vodka. This vividly detailed and taut narrative is a fitting tribute to the bravery of victims and righteous gentiles alike. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Apr. 21) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Based on her wartime diary, which she kept while hiding in a basement in Poland, Kramer's book vividly recalls the tensions within her hidden community after the Nazis overtook the town of Zolkiew in 1942. Of particular interest are revelations about the family who hid the Kramers, particularly how an anti-Semitic Polish householder demonstrated great courage in shielding Jews in his basement. Kramer, in her eighties, now lives in New Jersey.-Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Clara's War One Girl's Story of Survival Chapter One My Grandfather From March 1940 to June 1941 For those of us not sent to Siberia, the Russians had brought Siberia to us. Every bit of fuel, everything that could burn, even tiny birds' nests, was sent to the front. I practically lived in my heavy grey Afghan coat lined with rabbit fur. That coat was my saviour. Thank heavens Aunt Uchka had married a furrier. Hersch Leib had had coats made for everyone in the family. We could have chosen anything, even a famous Zolkiew fur, so popular in Paris. But with the icy winds blowing off the steppes, nothing was warmer than Afghan lamb. So that is what my family wore. Six months after the Soviets occupied Zolkiew we were still in the icy grip of our first occupied winter. The news on my grandparents' radio was just as chilling. We despaired when the United States announced its neutrality. And even though England and France had declared war on Germany, nothing had been done about the occupation of Poland. All France did was invade a lightly defended area of Germany. They made it all of 12 kilometres before turning back. We had been abandoned. On most days after school, I would stop off at Uchka's on the way home. I looked forward to sugar cookies, tea, and playing with Zygush and Zosia--especially Zosia. I had given up dolls for books when I was six, but I couldn't get enough of her. Zosia liked to put her cheek next to yours and clutch your face when she was carried. I didn't want to be any other place on earth when she did this. According to Uchka, I was Zosia's little mother, her mammeleh . One day, when I went to Aunt Uchka's, her house was empty. Before, I would have thought nothing of their absence, but now I immediately assumed the worst. I ran through the lanes in Uchka's neighbourhood back to my house, praying to find them there. It was like a snow-covered maze behind my family's oil-press factory. I cut through the alley behind the pink walls of the convent to my street. I rushed up the steps into the foyer that separated our flat from that of my grandparents', stamping off as much snow as I could. Even with my fur hat still over my ears, my coat collar up and my scarf wrapped tightly round it, I could already hear the noise coming from the next room. Something had happened. Everybody was speaking all at once. No one noticed I had walked in the room. I was relieved to see Uchka sitting in the corner holding the children in her lap. It took me a while to realize that everyone was beaming. Mama finally sighted me. She rushed towards me with her arms out. 'Who knew? Who knew?' I asked, 'Who knew what?' I couldn't imagine what had put such smiles on their faces. But everyone actually looked happy, which surely meant that nobody had died or been deported. It finally hit Mama that I really didn't know what she was talking about. 'You mean the entire town hasn't heard yet? Clarutchka,' she said, every word ripe with pride, 'out of all the children in Zolkiew, not only was your little sister chosen to sing the lead aria in the spring concert, but she was the youngest! Can you imagine? Mania! The youngest! And a lead aria! Who knew?' Never in a million years would I have thought I would be hearing Mama crow about this. Not now, not ever! Mania was always pulling rabbits out of the hat of her life. We didn't even know that she had been asked to audition! I was as giddy as the rest of them. Who could have known that my little stick of a sister could really sing? We sang at holidays. We sang our children's songs at school. But an aria? From a real opera? What a blessing to have such a talent in the family. We even temporarily forgot that the concert was to celebrate the superiority of the Soviet system. Even Dzadzio, Grandfather, who never had a kind word for the Russians, said, 'At least they got this right.' Apparently, the Russians knew something we didn't about my baby sister. On the other side of the room, Mania was sitting on the baby bed where she slept. I could tell what she was thinking just by the look on her face. She would rather be out sledding while there was still snow on the ground and was ruing that she had brought up the concert at all. But it was like all the other things she had to confess to. Better to get it over with. Sooner or later Mama would have got it out of her anyway. She couldn't see the glory in it. She had been told to sing, so she would sing. For the next three months, all we got was humming. Humming while she jumped rope. Humming while she ran in and out of the house. Humming while my mama made her do the homework she hated. The one time Mama asked her to sing, Mania refused. She was as wilful as Mama, Babcia and Dzadzio. We would have to wait for the concert. The entire town was temporarily distracted from the Russian occupation. While waiting on the long lines which stretched outside the colonnaded shops, mothers bragged about the Ukrainian and Russian folk songs their children would be singing. There wasn't a loaf of bread to be found, but the air practically buzzed with gossip. I knew they were secretly keeping score. Which song was longer? Whose child was singing the favourites? Who had a solo and who was in the chorus? What would the mothers wear? Clara's War One Girl's Story of Survival . Copyright © by Clara Kramer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival by Clara Kramer, Stephen Glantz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.