Tag Archives: Holocaust

Lorri M. Review: The Book Thief

thebookThief1 The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak is a well written book regarding life, death, and areas in between.

The Book Thief’s narrator is Death, itself. That, in my opinion, was very unique and illuminated the prose in ways that a human narrator could not. Zusak’s use of Death as the story teller is skillful.

The story line centers around Liesel Meminger. She has been displaced by her mother, and sent to live with a foster family, Hans and Rosa Huberman. Her foster mother and father could not be more different, yet within their differences, they are more alike in respect to the fact that they both love Liesel. Hans is more demonstrative and extremely patient with Liesel. He is the comfort zone in her life, like a warm quilt on a cold evening, whereas her foster mother is more boisterous and foul-mouthed, and impatient.

The family dynamics are an integral part of the story line. Liesel realizes what she can and can not get away with, and how to function under the circumstances of her new life. Her backbone is stronger than she realizes, and Hans plays a major role in that respect with his kindnesses and love.

Liesel makes friends with two boys, and they are her support system, outside of her family. Max, is the creative one, and Rudy is the neighborhood friend. Their friendships grow and are cemented within the environment of World War II Germany. Food is hard to come by, life is hard to come by, and their friendships take them to heights that they otherwise might not become involved in. Survival takes them to realms and possibilities that they might not ordinarily succumb to.

The title of the novel comes from the fact that Liesel is an avid reader, which began when her brother died and the gravedigger inadvertently left behind a book entitled The Gravedigger’s Handbook. A book which in which Liesel eventually learns to read through lessons given her by her foster father. From there, sparks the taking of other books, books she reads over and over again.

As the story progresses, the foster parents are confronted with a situation in which they do not hesitate to involve themselves. Liesel is aware of the consequences, and does her part in being secretive. This is where her friendship with Max begins.

We see lives lived through Death’s eyes, and through Death’s necessity for patience regarding specific individuals and their spirits. At times he tries to take the spirit from a person, sooner than is planned, and his attempt is not meant to be. At other times we see the horrific results of war, the Holocaust, and Death is often overwhelmed with the victims he must move forward to other realms.

He does have his few soft spots, which I found interesting to read. He does have compassion, although it does not serve his needs. He is not there to be influenced by sympathy, because there is there to do a job.

The Book Thief is a story which tells of the human condition, with all of its suffering. Yet, within the pages, there are sparks of humor, more from Death than anyone else. Death analyzes situations, and tries to figure out humans and their behavioral aspects. He is mystified, and often confused. He does not comprehend the human mindset.

The novel details the horrors of war, and the situations of the Holocaust, and the daily lives lived on the German edge of life and threads of life. Markus Zusak is masterful with his word imagery and his prose, in an almost fanciful or elaborate manner. His sentences often verge on the surreal.

I won’t elaborate, so as not to spoil the story for those who want to read it, or for those who might want to see the film. I recommend The Book Thief, especially for young adults. It is a good read for adults, too, but better served, I believe for young adults. The surreal aspect of it will heighten the tragedies of war for young adult readers, and make them more cognizant of war, loss, survival, family dynamics and life…itself.

Ⓒ All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lorri's Blog

Lorri M. Review: We Were Europeans

wewereeuropeans We Were Europeans: A Personal History of a Turbulent Century, by Werner M. Loval, is book that portrays an incredible, personal, family/ancestral journey, both before World War II, and post war.

Loval came from a respected, well off, German-Jewish family, and before the war they were treated with dignity within their community. That all ended beginning on January 30,1933, when Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. F rom that point forward, Loval’s story takes on dimensions that are precarious and horrendous, as he and his family fight to survive.

He and his sister eventually became part of the Kindertransport to England, while his parents eventually were able to escape to Ecuador, via Siberia and Japan, where the entire family was reunited. The family emigrated to America after the war. Loval eventually emigrated to Israel and played an intricate and highly professional role within the Diplomatic Service for the State of Israel. His religious foundations were strong, and he was involved in the Reform Jewish movement, and played a high profile role within it.

To say I am impressed with the format would be an understatement. I am in awe of We Were Europeans and the way Loval presents it to us. He infuses the pages with incredible documentation, amazing photographs, documents and maps, that enhance the pages of this compelling memoir, adding more drama to the presented depictions of the turbulence. From personal reflections and stories, the pages hold eye witness accounts to history as it happens, through Loval’s writing and presentation of supported evidence and documents.



Loval’s endeavors and arduous research has brought the reader into the depths of the Nazi turbulence, adversity and shocking horrors that overtook Europe during Hitler’s reign. First-hand accounts abound, and Loval leaves nothing to the imagination through his stark imagery. From correspondence to diaries during the haunting war years and afterwards, to diaries and letters during the Six Day War and so much more, the reader is painted vivid pictures of family inspiration during time of crisis. The post war events are just as compelling and intensely stated, as Loval involves himself in trying to get restitution for property owned by his family.

Loval and his family lived their lives to the fullest with a positive attitude, no matter the extreme harshness of their circumstances, no matter how far spread, at varied points in time, the family separation was across the global perspective. The illuminating photographs, documents and word-paintings are incredible testimonies to eras gone by, to familial bonds, to the determination and strength to persevere and survive, both during and after World War II.

We Were Europeans is a book of extreme importance and historical value for historians, for researchers, genealogists, for those who are interested in the Holocaust and World War II, and for those individuals, in general, who want to learn more about the turbulent times depicted within the pages. The intensity of the memoir is beyond imagination and comprehension. It is a powerful statement and testimony, not only to the decades, events and circumstances depicted, but to the Loval family unit. Their story is extremely inspiring, and I highly recommend We Were Europeans, by Werner M. Loval to everyone.

© Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Lorri M. Review: Where She Came From

whereshecamefrom Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother’s History, by Helen Epstein is an extremely compelling memoir. We journey with Helen Epstein as she searches for her familial past, and searches for answers regarding her family members who were murdered during the Holocaust.

The book is difficult to put down, once you start to read it. I was engrossed in this book from the first page…although it was a slow read for me, because I wanted to grasp the intensity of the generational saga, and grasp the historical facts, correctly.

Epstein
has more than proved herself as a writer in this dramatic memoir of family generations, identity, and history. We journey with her through time, through the positive and negative aspects, through the good and not so good, through the hardships and adversity. The reader is given remnants of life in a familial tapestry, through history, through the horrors of war, and how it affects all the generations, from past to present, and also how it can and will affect future generations.

From assimilating into society and racial and religious identity, to how one views themselves and what they identify with, Where She Came From is written with insight, often brutal in Epstein’s vivid descriptions. She writes with love, with yearning and the emotions of loss, she writes with clarity. Where She Came From is an extremely inspiring book.

How does one start over after enduring such atrocities and horrors? Is there laughter in your life, once again? How does the past affect the present? Does God exist? These are just a few of the questions Where She Came From leaves the reader to ponder, and Epstein pondered those issues and questions, and many more. She manages to weave a tapestry of her family, each moment in time adds to the fabric of her own identity, as she comes closer to some of her ancestral answers. We laugh with her, and cry with her, and we are inspired by Where She Came From.

Successive generations live with the past every day of their lives…it seems inevitable, and Epstein reinforces that theory through her writing. Epstein’s writing draws us in, and her memoir is intriguing, insightful and concise, but mainly it is extremely inspiring. In my opinion it is a must read for everyone, as its educational value is priceless.

Where She Came From is both compelling as a memoir and as a historical book. It is an incredible resource for schools, colleges, universities, and anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of life before, during and after the Holocaust.

I applaud Helen Epstein for such an exceptional read!

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permissio

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, World War II

Holocaust International Remembrance Day

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Please take a moment to reflect and remember.

yahrzeit2

Recovered items on display at Israeli Holocaust Memorial.

Yad Vashem Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

Wikipedia link.

Simon Wiesenthal Center

Silale, Lithuania, where some of my paternal ancestors lived, and where some were murdered in the Holocaust.

yarz
~~~~~
I have not been blogging for almost two weeks. I have had a severe case of the flu or some virus. I am almost 100%, but not quite. It has been an exhausting several days. My body is still feeling the affects and effects.

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Filed under Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography, World History, World War II

Skies of Remembrance

Today is SkyWatch Friday.

My photographs were taken at a local park this morning.  They don’t depict Jewish life, per se, but were taken with International Holocaust Remembrance Day in mind.  I wanted to capture some clear skies, never posted before, to honor those who were Holocaust victims (including all those who were murdered and all those who survived).  I wanted to capture the barren trees within the lake environment and skies above to depict life in its varied forms and realms.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is tomorrow, January 27, 2012.

Crisp and Clear at the Lake

Land, Lake Skies

Visit SkyWatch Friday for more photographs from around the world.

To Life

Remember…

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Jewaicious Review – They Dared Return

   If you want to read an intense and dramatic book regarding Jewish spies during the Holocaust, then They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in N azi Germany, by Patrick K. O’Donnell is a book for you. From the first page to the last, I was totally engrossed and mesmerized by the story line of the Jewish individuals who were chosen by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to penetrate and return to their homeland in Germany in order to help fight and destroy the Nazis. They were part of “Operation Greenup”, and their mission was not only covert, but extremely dangerous, not only for them, but their families, many who were in concentration camps.

They Dared Return is a unique World War II story, told from an unusual perspective.
For starters, the Jews involved in “Operation Greenup”, were refugees who managed to escape Germany. That in itself is remarkable, combined with the fact that they involved themselves, voluntarily, to return and try to disintegrate Hitler and the Nazis in hopes of ending the war. The courage and determination that was exhibited by these extraordinary men is beyond comprehension and comparison to anything I have read before.

The story reads like a spy novel or film, when it is entirely factual. That these Jews were able to plan and infiltrate enemy lines and exercise their mission was an incredible feat. Parachuting behind enemy lines in order to gain information on the Nazi stronghold is the situation heroes are made of. The risks they took are almost unfathomable and overwhelming to the mind.

They Dared Return is a fast paced and intriguing page turner. To state that it is an intense book would be an understatement. It is riveting, adventurous, dramatic, and a thriller filled with vivid imagery that filled all of my senses to overflowing. The courage and efforts that were planned and executed are hardcore examples of mental and physical strength endeavored under the most adverse of scenarios.

I am still trying to digest this outstanding book, and all the historical facts presented within the pages. It is a story that will stay with me, and linger within me well into the future.

They Dared Return is a unique exploration into the events encountered by these individuals. It is a story that is rare, and one that needed to be told.

I applaud Patrick K. O’Donnell for his efforts in researching, documenting and bringing us this untold and remarkable Story. They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany is an invaluable addition to World War II and Holocaust history. It belongs in every home library.

December 26, 2011 – 30 Kislev, 5772

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