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All But My Life: A Memoir

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All But My Life: A Memoir All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the All But My Life: A Memoir All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey. Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead. Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.


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All But My Life: A Memoir All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the All But My Life: A Memoir All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey. Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead. Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.

30 review for All But My Life: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Pikula

    I should probably start out by saying that I'm not totally obsessed with WWII, Holocaust, concentration camps, terror, misery and death (here it comes...) BUT, I think I enjoy these stories because in each one, there is a story of HOPE, perseverance, and a remarkable accounts of humanity and triumph. It gives me a renewed sense of well-being, humanity, tolerance, strength and hope. No matter how bad my life seems to be, I can more easily remember that I really and truly have it SO very good. "All I should probably start out by saying that I'm not totally obsessed with WWII, Holocaust, concentration camps, terror, misery and death (here it comes...) BUT, I think I enjoy these stories because in each one, there is a story of HOPE, perseverance, and a remarkable accounts of humanity and triumph. It gives me a renewed sense of well-being, humanity, tolerance, strength and hope. No matter how bad my life seems to be, I can more easily remember that I really and truly have it SO very good. "All But My Life" is a beautifully written memoir of Gerda Weissmann's experiences through this horrific time. I am humbled by this woman's optimism, courage and determination. I am truly amazed that Gerda is a survivor. At the time of The Liberation, she weighed 68 pounds - and she was 21 years old! (That's about how much my Kati weighs right now, and she's 9!!!) Gerda had typhus and pneumonia shortly after that, and had sustained severe nerve damage to her feet. She recovered from all of the above, and has 3 children, and grand children. Like I said, I think I'm hooked on these type of books because of the outlook on my life that I come away with. Although, there is such a part of the healing process for a survivor to tell their story; maybe that's what I look forward to in my own life - my own survival for my own trial?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book was written by my dear friend's grandmother. I have been lucky enough to know her, learn from her and be loved by her. What an amazing blessing that have been able to get a first hand account of a Holocaust experience that I will be able to one day share with my children. It is likely that by the time my children are old enough to understand and appreciate this story, there will no longer be any survivors alive. "Grandma Gerds" as I call her is an incredible woman that I am honored to This book was written by my dear friend's grandmother. I have been lucky enough to know her, learn from her and be loved by her. What an amazing blessing that have been able to get a first hand account of a Holocaust experience that I will be able to one day share with my children. It is likely that by the time my children are old enough to understand and appreciate this story, there will no longer be any survivors alive. "Grandma Gerds" as I call her is an incredible woman that I am honored to know. She has brought so much good out of such a tragedy. She spends her life teaching about tolerance and bringing this message to middle and high schools where it needs to be heard the most. She just celebrated her 87th birthday along with the 66th anniversary of her liberation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    The artistry and vitality and heart with which Gerda Weissmann Klein brings to life her experiences as a young Polish Jewish girl during the Holocaust is nothing short of extraordinary. This is as moving and heartbreaking and life affirming as any book I’ve ever read. And perhaps its greatest triumph is that it brings back to life and celebrates the humanity of every individual who was close to Gerda, especially her mother and father, her older brother and her closest companion in the camps, a g The artistry and vitality and heart with which Gerda Weissmann Klein brings to life her experiences as a young Polish Jewish girl during the Holocaust is nothing short of extraordinary. This is as moving and heartbreaking and life affirming as any book I’ve ever read. And perhaps its greatest triumph is that it brings back to life and celebrates the humanity of every individual who was close to Gerda, especially her mother and father, her older brother and her closest companion in the camps, a girl called Ilse. For all its heartbreak All But My Life is a beautiful resounding testament to the preciousness of life. It’s perhaps odd to speak of the artistry of a book about the Holocaust but even the most gripping and moving story has to be told well to get itself across in all its power and significance. In this regard Gerda excels. She writes so well and she organises her material with such deft architectural skill. Gerda’s account of her family life before the horror begins is so focused, so economically alive with poignant detail that we feel a deep abiding affection for these people. Our heart goes out to them and stays with them. When her older brother comes to her room the night before he’s to be sent to a work camp I felt like I was in the room with her and Arthur was my own big brother. And this is the marvel of this book, she puts you there, she makes you experience what she’s going through on your own skin. I don’t think anyone has made me feel so acutely, so intimately the incomprehensible horror of what the Nazis did to the Jews. Nor can I recall any book that has made me cry as much as this did – my little boy was beginning to get a bit concerned and eventually I had to read it while he was asleep. But it’s far from being a depressing book. Just the opposite. In mood it’s like standing alone by the gravestone of a loved one – there’s pain and heartbreak but there’s also that sweep of wonder and cleansing sadness at the realisation of how much beauty an individual life imparts. This is a book about the Holocaust but it’s also about the marvels of kinship and family love and memory. This is a memoir but because of the narrative skill of the author it reads like the most gripping of novels. As Julie, who recommended this book to me, so presciently says in her review, "Here's what sets Gerda's story apart: first, she's an excellent story-teller and writer, so her tale flows like fiction, though, unfortunately, it is not." “Papa entered the last car and went to the open platform at the rear to see us as long as possible. There he stood in his good gray suit, his only one, his shoulders sloping, his hair steel gray in the sun, on his breast the yellow star and black word. There he stood, already beyond my reach, my father, the center of my life, just labeled JEW. A shrill whistle blew through the peaceful afternoon. Like a puppet a conductor lifted a little red flag. Puffs of smoke rose. The train began to creep away. Papa’s eyes were fixed upon us. He did not move. He did not wave. He did not call farewell. Unseen hands were moving him farther and farther away from us. We watched until the train was out of sight. I never saw my father again.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce

    I can't possibly award any stars to this novel. There are not enough to even come close to the tragedy, the horror, and the depraved behavior that Gerta Weissmann suffered at the hand of the Nazis. She lost everything, family, friends, and came close to losing her life on many occasions. Starting at the age of eighteen, Gerda who had led a life filled with family love, would often think of her family and those thoughts seemed to keep her going with the hope that one day she would reunite with he I can't possibly award any stars to this novel. There are not enough to even come close to the tragedy, the horror, and the depraved behavior that Gerta Weissmann suffered at the hand of the Nazis. She lost everything, family, friends, and came close to losing her life on many occasions. Starting at the age of eighteen, Gerda who had led a life filled with family love, would often think of her family and those thoughts seemed to keep her going with the hope that one day she would reunite with her parents and her beloved brother. During the winter of 1945, she began a march from a labor camp in Germany to Czechoslovakia. She was joined, beset by the cold , inadequate clothing and food, and rampant illness, by four thousand other women prisoners. Gerda was one of the few, one of only one hundred twenty to survive. When asked how she did it, she oftentimes could not explain. As was the case with all survivors of the Nazi atrocities, she could not understand why she was spared. Everything she loved, everything she knew was obliterated. How Gerta managed to see all this through and eventually marry and come to America is a tale of a heroic and indomitable spirit. What she faced along with her friends and camp mates was what she tells us in this novel. This was truly a brave soul, whose courage and strength is an inspiration to all those privileged enough to know her and read her poignant story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    This was a favorite book from middle school. My mom wouldn't let me read Night yet (which of course I immediately stole off the bookshelf and devoured) so I started with this. Being a young girl myself, I think the story affected me in a way that it could not have if I had read at an older age. The copy I read was my mother's from when she was a girl. I lost this wonderful book (I could barely keep track of my own head in middle school) and cried bitterly. I still feel horrible about it. It woul This was a favorite book from middle school. My mom wouldn't let me read Night yet (which of course I immediately stole off the bookshelf and devoured) so I started with this. Being a young girl myself, I think the story affected me in a way that it could not have if I had read at an older age. The copy I read was my mother's from when she was a girl. I lost this wonderful book (I could barely keep track of my own head in middle school) and cried bitterly. I still feel horrible about it. It would have been really special to share that copy with my daughter someday. Assuming she would be a bookworm like me. I'll be scandalized if not! I had the good fortune to hear this woman speak at a bat mitzvah I attended in Indianapolis about 15 years ago. It was a wonderful surprise. She was a very old woman, and small. She spoke with a kind voice and I remember being so shocked to be in the presence of someone who had seen such horrible things. It made me (as much as possible at the tender age of 15) really aware of the close proximity of the surface of my happy suburban midwest American bubble. I have no idea what it is like to suffer. This book would be another excellent alternative to The Diary of Anne Frank. Not that she needs to be replaced, but I don't think all students are going to relate to Anne. There are many voices to be heard from the Holocaust, and as a teacher I think its most important to offer students choices so that they can find something that fits them and speaks to them. This one really spoke to me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I don't permit myself many Holocaust memoirs. I just can't stomach how dark the human heart can be. But, we've got a new leader taking office here in the U.S. come this January, and he says he doesn't like Saturday Night Live, and he doesn't like Vanity Fair magazine and he doesn't trust the New York Times. . . And, I'm okay with any of our leaders EXPRESSING their likes and dislikes, just as I'm okay with any citizens doing the same, but when a leader threatens to shut down programs or magazine I don't permit myself many Holocaust memoirs. I just can't stomach how dark the human heart can be. But, we've got a new leader taking office here in the U.S. come this January, and he says he doesn't like Saturday Night Live, and he doesn't like Vanity Fair magazine and he doesn't trust the New York Times. . . And, I'm okay with any of our leaders EXPRESSING their likes and dislikes, just as I'm okay with any citizens doing the same, but when a leader threatens to shut down programs or magazines or newspapers, well, then, we ALL must start PAYING ATTENTION. And, when a person feels shaky about new leadership or an unusual direction being taken within their community, I don't think it's a bad idea to read a Holocaust memoir. Lest we forget. I've read only three memoirs from the Holocaust: Anne Frank's, Wladyslaw Szpilman's, and now Gerda Weissman Klein's. They are all similar, different, excellent, and horrifying. Here's what sets Gerda's story apart: first, she's an excellent story-teller and writer, so her tale flows like fiction, though, unfortunately, it is not. Second, her family was affluent and influential, and it's important to be reminded that, ultimately, the "ethnic cleansing" spared no one. Third, Gerda is feisty and flawed. This is not the story of a "sacrificed angel." This is a magnificent, messy woman whose life is relatable, human, and interesting. When this particular story ended, I found myself hungry to know more, more, and more about Gerda. And I will! I will end here with my favorite passages from Gerda: Papa entered the last car and went to the open platform at the rear to see us as long as possible. There he stood in his good gray suit, his only one, his shoulders sloping, his hair steel gray in the sun, on his breast the yellow star and black word. There he stood, already beyond my reach, my father, the center of my life, just labeled JEW. (87) When I got into the shower and felt the warm water on my skin, I started to shiver. My teeth chattered. I leaned against the tiled wall of the cubicle and vomited while the water ran over me. When my stomach was empty, I carefully washed the floor. I prayed that I should never be assaulted, for I knew I would strike back, even though I would have to pay for it with life itself. (169) I have almost total recall of certain moments from my early years, at home and in the camps, but that, too, can be a sword--albeit double-edged--with which to slay contemporary dragons. Such a duel is all the fiercer if the adversaries share the same body. (251)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Selina

    This is my all time favorite book because what it did for me during a very difficult time in my life. I was struggling with a horrible case of postpartum depression and, somehow, I came across this book that changed my life. I can never again TRULY feel sorry for myself. The trials I have endured are nothing compared to this story. It reminded me to be grateful for a crying baby, food in the refrigerator, a house to clean, a husband to kiss. Most of all I loved the way it ends!! Love can triumph This is my all time favorite book because what it did for me during a very difficult time in my life. I was struggling with a horrible case of postpartum depression and, somehow, I came across this book that changed my life. I can never again TRULY feel sorry for myself. The trials I have endured are nothing compared to this story. It reminded me to be grateful for a crying baby, food in the refrigerator, a house to clean, a husband to kiss. Most of all I loved the way it ends!! Love can triumph and mostly does if given the chance. I was also very excited to hear the author speak at The Morrison Center. Again she reminded us all to not take anything for granted and go ahead and enjoy "a boring evening at home". Thank you to my Heavenly Father for sending me this book at a desperately needed time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allison Wonderland

    Perhaps it is a sense of morbidity that leads me to read the most heartbreaking memoirs. Perhaps it is an innocent interest in history. I think, though, that it is because I experience my life - my comfortable, easy life - so much more richly when I see how others have suffered and survived. All But My Life is Gerda Weissmann's story of her experiences as a Jew during the Holocaust. It is unlike all of the other Holocaust memoirs I have read, perhaps because it is the first in which a female sur Perhaps it is a sense of morbidity that leads me to read the most heartbreaking memoirs. Perhaps it is an innocent interest in history. I think, though, that it is because I experience my life - my comfortable, easy life - so much more richly when I see how others have suffered and survived. All But My Life is Gerda Weissmann's story of her experiences as a Jew during the Holocaust. It is unlike all of the other Holocaust memoirs I have read, perhaps because it is the first in which a female survivor tells her story. Again and again I was struck with Gerda's strength and hope (something often pointed out by the people around her, even if she does not always recognize it in herself), so much so that I could understand why she never really succumbed to the belief that she would perish as so many others had. And yet, as with so many other stories of Holocaust survival, I couldn't get past just how much all of those who lived relied on luck - some chance happening or favorable aligning of the stars that meant living just one more day. This is a difficult thing for me to understand. So many times we are tuaght that the strong survive, the weak perish. It is only natural for us to think that the people who survived the Holocaust were the strongest, the fittest, the most intelligent. But this is not true. Those people died just as often as did the meek and delicate. It is terrifying to put yourself in the same position as the Jews who faced this horror, because you cannot with any surety say that you would survive, no matter how strong or clever you were. Books like this are a gift to those of us who have never experienced true hardship. They open our eyes to just how petty our own problems are, and give us an appreciation for the lives we are blessed enough to lead.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    It's painful to read--just as "Night" or "The Hiding Place" are. I had to put it down for a while to regain perspective: Life seems pretty gloomy when the stark reality of the holocaust is explained so eloquently. I picked it up again, though, and the "happy" ending was a reprieve.("Happy" being fairly trite, considering 6 million Jews tortured and killed.) How does this type of horror happen? Who could kill a child? A family? What lies dormant in us? It's probably not helpful to dwell on past i It's painful to read--just as "Night" or "The Hiding Place" are. I had to put it down for a while to regain perspective: Life seems pretty gloomy when the stark reality of the holocaust is explained so eloquently. I picked it up again, though, and the "happy" ending was a reprieve.("Happy" being fairly trite, considering 6 million Jews tortured and killed.) How does this type of horror happen? Who could kill a child? A family? What lies dormant in us? It's probably not helpful to dwell on past injustices, since history is littered with monstrosities--not just German ones. Should we forgive? Forget? We could forget, but this book is proof that there are survivors who never will, and generations that will never exist. As heart-wrenching as it is, I somehow feel indebted to read these difficult things and even weep for those who suffered and still are. I feel more human and life seems more precious.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    In this fascinating volume Gerda Weissmann talks about her experiences during the holocaust from the age of 15 to 20. She tells of three years in a labour camp , and three years of a forced winter march from Poland to Czechoslovakia. What makes this book remarkable is the decency and love that sustained her through these horrific times , and her incredible strength of character. Through her memory , she uses vast decriptive powers to redraw the picture of what life was like in those harrowing years In this fascinating volume Gerda Weissmann talks about her experiences during the holocaust from the age of 15 to 20. She tells of three years in a labour camp , and three years of a forced winter march from Poland to Czechoslovakia. What makes this book remarkable is the decency and love that sustained her through these horrific times , and her incredible strength of character. Through her memory , she uses vast decriptive powers to redraw the picture of what life was like in those harrowing years. It was her father's insistence on a warm June day that she take her winter sky boots with her that saved her during the forced winter march a few years later-many of the girls there died for lack of footwear. She describes them as 'little matchstick girls' , drawing on the old fairy tale about the little girl that died in the cold. She tells of her camps siters Illse , Liesl and Suse none of whom survived-the last dying only moments after being liberated by American forces. The author held on to life through memories of her family and the vow she made to her father to never give up on her life. The author ends the memoir with a summary of her life in America after the war , writing this epilogue 37 years after the first edition of all But My Life was published. She tells of her children and her grandchildren , her love of America and of Israel, and of her meeting with Menachem Begin , who had read her memoirs and showed his characteristic depth of love and humanity. She tells of the welfare of all children are of utmost importance to her ,the abused , the handicapped , the underprivileged , the ill. She also writes of how the events of the holocaust years she lived through , still periodically haunt her.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the concentration camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry and you give it to your friend." Gerda Weissman grew up in Poland. She has a loving, close family. We see the disintegration of normal life as her family is torn apart. Gerda is deported and sent to various work camps and concentration camps. In the midst of Nazi cruelty and b Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the concentration camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry and you give it to your friend." Gerda Weissman grew up in Poland. She has a loving, close family. We see the disintegration of normal life as her family is torn apart. Gerda is deported and sent to various work camps and concentration camps. In the midst of Nazi cruelty and brutal working conditions she forms close friendships. The fact that she is one of the lucky ones is staggering. These chance moments where she is picked to work instead of die seem incredible, but you realize that without incredible luck, a Polish Jew would die. This book was devastating and absolutely riveting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I appreciated how this memoir started with German occupation rather than in the work/concentration camps. Somehow the in-town treatment of the Jews was almost more nausea-inducing to me than the more-commonly-repeated tales of the camps---not because the treatment was less humane in the towns but because the general public knew what was going on and let it happen; it wasn't just the military being cruel behind closed doors. The author keeps a rather calm tone throughout, which made it even more I appreciated how this memoir started with German occupation rather than in the work/concentration camps. Somehow the in-town treatment of the Jews was almost more nausea-inducing to me than the more-commonly-repeated tales of the camps---not because the treatment was less humane in the towns but because the general public knew what was going on and let it happen; it wasn't just the military being cruel behind closed doors. The author keeps a rather calm tone throughout, which made it even more chilling for me when coming across facts like (at the end of the war), "I was weighed---sixty-eight pounds." One thing I found most interesting about this story was that Gerda's teenage personality comes through really well. She doesn't sugar-coat the fact that she often snubbed her mother even up to their last hours together (though I was surprised she never mentions attempting to write her) nor the fact that Gerda was often fickle in her friendships.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    This book. It was amazing, heartbreaking, lyrical, shocking, and emotional. Gerda's personality is similar to mine, and so many things she said I felt and understood so well. This is one of those books that you just can't even grasp when you've finished. The ending was amazing, and Kurt...*sighs happily* Love this book so much, although it was painful and emotional for me to read. It opened my eyes to how much I complain, and that I take the little things in life (and freedom) so much for grante This book. It was amazing, heartbreaking, lyrical, shocking, and emotional. Gerda's personality is similar to mine, and so many things she said I felt and understood so well. This is one of those books that you just can't even grasp when you've finished. The ending was amazing, and Kurt...*sighs happily* Love this book so much, although it was painful and emotional for me to read. It opened my eyes to how much I complain, and that I take the little things in life (and freedom) so much for granted. In the epilogue Gerda wrote this: "I wanted to reach out to young people, make them aware of the preciousness of life, and show them that it was not to be thrown away thoughtlessly, even under conditions of extreme hardship. I always wanted to impress upon them how wrong it is to seek a permanent solution to a temporary problem." After reading the whole book, I just sat there like, "Wow, that is just amazing." Through it all, she saw the sanctity of life. I never felt her bitterness in her account, and that was even sweeter to me. So yes, this book is a new favorite. *Content: A couple profanities, and hardships at labour camps. Nothing extremely explicit.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    This is one of my most favorite books. Learned many things about life. It inspired me in many ways. I hope i never look the other way when someone is suffering. Makes me so grateful to tuck my kids in bed each night in clean sheets, with a soft pillow, in a warm house, well feed, and most importantly they are safe (no one trying to hurt them). We are truly blessed with the comforts of life right down to running hot water for bathing and being able to floss our teeth! Whenever I think my life is This is one of my most favorite books. Learned many things about life. It inspired me in many ways. I hope i never look the other way when someone is suffering. Makes me so grateful to tuck my kids in bed each night in clean sheets, with a soft pillow, in a warm house, well feed, and most importantly they are safe (no one trying to hurt them). We are truly blessed with the comforts of life right down to running hot water for bathing and being able to floss our teeth! Whenever I think my life is hard, or I feel overwhelmed, or even discouraged, I just remember the Holocaust. This book made me appreciate life more, and strengthened me to never look the other way at someones suffering. I marvel at how some people survive great tragedies. I am in awe at how some people strengthen and help others at all cost-even their own life and their families life!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein is a memior written about the authors's experiences during World War II. Gerda Weissman Klein was a Polish Jew along with her family who encountered many hardship from the German Nazis. When they first invaded, the Jews got threatened by German Nazi who invaded Poland on Spetember 1, 1939. It took the Germans only 8 days to conquer Poland. When they invaded they tooks Jews gold, autmobiles, bicycles, and radios. When they invaded the Jews were forced out o All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein is a memior written about the authors's experiences during World War II. Gerda Weissman Klein was a Polish Jew along with her family who encountered many hardship from the German Nazis. When they first invaded, the Jews got threatened by German Nazi who invaded Poland on Spetember 1, 1939. It took the Germans only 8 days to conquer Poland. When they invaded they tooks Jews gold, autmobiles, bicycles, and radios. When they invaded the Jews were forced out of their himes and temple were burned down. Many people along with the Weissman fmaily was forced to rebuild parts of Poland that was destoryed form the attack. Her family was then forced to move into the basement of their own house. They and along with many other people were stamped JEW on their ration cards to recieve less food. ?In addition to beign disrciminated, they had to wear a yellow start to represent that they were a Jews and got punished if they didn't. Gerda as one of the victim was sent out of her own country. Even though so many hardship was forced on the Jews, Gerda stated "to you, life still means beauty, and that is how it should be" (115). Even though many people got killed, there is no excuse to just give up on up beucase life is suspose to be worth cherishing. Gerda's parents were taken to death camps and killed from there along of 3 million other people. Thus, it was hard to make friends beucase many would have to mourn the death of the people they loved for example Suse and Lisel who were friend she made at the camp and died went sent on the death march. Even though it was sad and depressing to see people die there was still always have to be hope in her survival. She said after many of her loved one passed away ""now i have to live," i said to myself, "beucase I am alone and nothing hurt me any more""(206). This shows that in order to not lose hope is to suffer so much and get back up to become a stronger and powerful person. The theme hope related to the whole concept of Holocaust that was learned during sophmore year. Many Jewish people survived beucase they never gave up. If they did the whole entire Jewish commuinty would be gone by now and the German Nazi would take over. They learned they could not give up beucase then what's the point of living? The point of life is go through many obstacles and problems to succed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This book, a memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein was written in 1957 with an epilogue written at the end in 1995. Gerda was a teenager when the Germans invaded Poland. Her family, father, mother, and brother were forced to live in their own basement. soon after her brother Arthur was taken away. A few years later the family is separated and Gerda is taken to a camp where she is forced into slave labor working on a weaving machine. she is friends with three other girls at the camp where they have lit This book, a memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein was written in 1957 with an epilogue written at the end in 1995. Gerda was a teenager when the Germans invaded Poland. Her family, father, mother, and brother were forced to live in their own basement. soon after her brother Arthur was taken away. A few years later the family is separated and Gerda is taken to a camp where she is forced into slave labor working on a weaving machine. she is friends with three other girls at the camp where they have little to eat and watch and endure abuses. she is moved to other slave camps. she does not know if her father and brother is alive and suspects her mother may have been killed. six month before the war ends and the Germans surrender. Gerda and her girl friends are forced on a Winter March from Poland where she witnesses tragedies, starvation and winter weather. Gerda is a survivor though and fights to stay alive against all odds. this is her memoir of those six years and what she and others endured. I was so interested in her life that i looked up the documentary done on her in 1995 called " One survivor remembers" a well done one from HBO. this was a well written heartfelt memoir. I was glad i got the chance to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sissy

    I have to start this review by saying, I saw Mrs. Klein's documentary “ One Survivor Remembers” several years ago. I watched it many times. The documentary was very good.... but the book was INCREDIBLE!!!!! It was the most moving and emotional book dealing with the Holocaust that I ever read.. I cried from beginning to end, because I knew the basics of her story. I strongly recommend this book for those interested in learning what actually went on during the Holocaust. Thank you to the author (an I have to start this review by saying, I saw Mrs. Klein's documentary “ One Survivor Remembers” several years ago. I watched it many times. The documentary was very good.... but the book was INCREDIBLE!!!!! It was the most moving and emotional book dealing with the Holocaust that I ever read.. I cried from beginning to end, because I knew the basics of her story. I strongly recommend this book for those interested in learning what actually went on during the Holocaust. Thank you to the author (and her husband) for showing me what courage, nobility, compassion, determination, strength, and love look like.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine Walker

    All but my life was a good book but it was also very depressing. Gerda's story was really touching. It started out in poland with her and her family trying to protect her father from knowing of the war. Because of his illness the family tried to keep stressful news under wraps. Soon it was hard for them to keep the news secret when the Nazi's invade poland and separate the families. This is the last time Gerda sees her brother. While at camp She is allowed to write letters and writes her brother All but my life was a good book but it was also very depressing. Gerda's story was really touching. It started out in poland with her and her family trying to protect her father from knowing of the war. Because of his illness the family tried to keep stressful news under wraps. Soon it was hard for them to keep the news secret when the Nazi's invade poland and separate the families. This is the last time Gerda sees her brother. While at camp She is allowed to write letters and writes her brother often. Gerda is accompanied in camp with Ilse to her camps and through the death marches. She is Gerda's greatest help during the camp, sacrificing food and herself. Ilse is the defintition of a true friend. Gerda often fell into sickness and couldn't work, which meant no food. On countless occasions Ilse picked Gerda up and gave her hope when she had none and wanted to give up.Abek was also another help although a pain at times too. He was a good friend who tried to keep Gerda's hope alive while in camp. Abek fell in love with Gerda which is a big inconvience yet a convience for her. He constantly pushes his love in her even though he is rejected. He continues to love her and like Ilse sacrifices himself to be with her. Abek was a good suitor for Gerda, he was smart and kind and even respected by her father. But Gerda only saw him as an older brother. Throughout the war Abek sacrifices himself by volunteering to go to the worst camp just to be near Gerda.Eventually because Gerda only sees him as a an older brother figure Abek loses his will to live and dies in Auswich. Gerda recieves letters from her friend Erika telling of a family that is trampled in the streets by Nazi Horses and many other horrific stories of what the Nazis are doing outside of her camp.Erika's love fror her fiancee' helps Gerda explore her possible feelings for Abek. The story for Gerda continues to get worse as she marches on "Death Marches"where she loses Ilse to the cold and the weariness of her body. Gerda Travels alone until she is finally liberated by American soldiers, one of which, Kurt Klein becomes her husband. Gerda's story is powerful. I would defintely recommend this to people who like to read books about history. This is a great book!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I first heard about this book from my daughter who is a school teacher in Chicago. Apparently the documentary of this book had been sent to many of the school in the city. The impact is always so much greater when one is reading the words of another's life, so much more personal. I love that this starts out with her happy family, her brothers, her neighbors, her friends, such a simple life full of hope. Than they are confronted with the Nazi invasion and things began to change for them very quic I first heard about this book from my daughter who is a school teacher in Chicago. Apparently the documentary of this book had been sent to many of the school in the city. The impact is always so much greater when one is reading the words of another's life, so much more personal. I love that this starts out with her happy family, her brothers, her neighbors, her friends, such a simple life full of hope. Than they are confronted with the Nazi invasion and things began to change for them very quickly, yet they still held on to little things that provided them with hope. A letter from a family member, deportations that had been postponed, a brother who has manged to escape, a neighbor who brings them food, all of these provide hope. A young childhood quickly changed, I remember one passage that really brought this home for me. Gerda is walking past the pool where in previous summers she had gone to with her friends. Now she is walking past the pool, with a Jewish armband, and while there is still laughing coming from the pool, she is no longer able to go in. Wonderfully poignant book, in the afterward she explains what has happened to her life after the war and why she has felt compelled to write this, her memoir. Wonderful book from a wonderfully strong woman.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Berrett

    "You are lucky mother. If only I could be certain that someday my children would be standing on my grave." I have read at least 10 Holocaust memoirs and although all of them tell very similar stories (idyllic pre-war life, initial occupation, hope and belief that the war will end soon, initial forced emigration, hardships of camp, summary executions, horrors of forced marches through snow, etc) I keep reading them because they are all special. The circumstances of each story may be similar, but e "You are lucky mother. If only I could be certain that someday my children would be standing on my grave." I have read at least 10 Holocaust memoirs and although all of them tell very similar stories (idyllic pre-war life, initial occupation, hope and belief that the war will end soon, initial forced emigration, hardships of camp, summary executions, horrors of forced marches through snow, etc) I keep reading them because they are all special. The circumstances of each story may be similar, but each individual author struggles against despair in his or her own way. Each approaches reintegration into normal life uniquely too. One of the things that made this book so special was the post-liberation narrative (including the wonderful epilogue written in 1994) about Gerda forging new relationships and developing her new life. I'm so glad that she didn't stop writing when she came to the end of the war. I can't say too much without spoiling, but I will say that I shed a few man-tears as her post-war drama unfolded. This was a gripping book that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in reading about such things.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa T

    Such a touching story of a young woman during the holocaust. What amazed me the most was how she retained her humanity throughout her long years during WWII. And it had such a sweet romance at the end! Fabulous read. I actually think the best part was at the end and her descriptions of the liberation--I was on an airplane and I couldn't stop myself from crying. Here are a few of my favorite quotes: During a horrible march where everyone was starving: "Later, as the wagon rolled through the little Such a touching story of a young woman during the holocaust. What amazed me the most was how she retained her humanity throughout her long years during WWII. And it had such a sweet romance at the end! Fabulous read. I actually think the best part was at the end and her descriptions of the liberation--I was on an airplane and I couldn't stop myself from crying. Here are a few of my favorite quotes: During a horrible march where everyone was starving: "Later, as the wagon rolled through the little town, a window opened above us and a piece of bread fell right into my lap. I clutched it. A dozen hands stretched toward me, begging. For a minute I wavered. Then I divided the bread carefully among the girls." After the American soldiers liberated the girls: "Other soldiers carried girls in their arms like babies, speaking to them soothingly in words the girls did not understand. But the gestures of warmth and help were unmistakable." "My experience has taught me that all of us have a reservoir of untapped strength that comes to the fore at moments of crisis."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    I have read a few Holocaust memoirs (not a ton) and this is one of the best so far. What I liked was the way the author portrayed herself. She conveyed a sense of a strong personality, sensitive to others but not backing away from her values or her reality. It's a horrible story, of course; she spends her late adolescence in a series of work camps and ultimately survives a gruelling "death march." She loses her home, her parents, her brother, all her possessions (except for a pair of ski boots a I have read a few Holocaust memoirs (not a ton) and this is one of the best so far. What I liked was the way the author portrayed herself. She conveyed a sense of a strong personality, sensitive to others but not backing away from her values or her reality. It's a horrible story, of course; she spends her late adolescence in a series of work camps and ultimately survives a gruelling "death march." She loses her home, her parents, her brother, all her possessions (except for a pair of ski boots and a few family photos), and most of her friends. All but her life. Much of the book focuses on her messed-up love life. At an age where she was most interested in finding a mate, she was prevented from doing so by a genocide -- yet it's clear that this very human need is always at the back and sometimes in the front of her mind. She mentions more than once how fortunate she was not to have been sterilized. I met Gerda Weissmann Klein about four years ago, when she spoke at a local community center. I'm happy to have read this book at last.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    This book has nearly 11,000 ratings and nearly 800 reviews and the rating averages 4.3 out of 5. Need I say more? Gerda Weissmann Klein should be read by anyone interested in what the holocaust did to the Jews, especially the young that were able to live through death camps and the death march AND to be able to write about it. Today Gerda is still alive at 92. I will loan this book out to friends, but it will have a permanent spot on my bookshelf.

  24. 5 out of 5

    LeeAnn

    I don't think I can review TG is book. It touched me. Deeply. I think it will be the best book I read this year.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    I seem to be on a real World War II kick. It's so fascinating to read different people's accounts and the ways they were able to get through the war mentally and physically. One line that stood out to me in this book is, "Survival is both an exalted privilege and a painful burden." What a tragic part of our history. Gerda Klein is one of my new-found heroes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Another great Holocaust memoir.....beautiful story and really worth the read. As all Holocaust survivor stories, really touched my heart.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I loved this book! I had a hard time putting it down. I am anxious to see the documentary now, and wish that I could hear her speak. I really appreciated the author's optimism and boldness and bravery. Don't get me wrong, there were times when she did consider the alternative to surviving, but each time she found a way through it and continued to march on. Her story was inspiring to me because we each go through trials in our lifetime, some much more atrocious that others, but she reminds us to I loved this book! I had a hard time putting it down. I am anxious to see the documentary now, and wish that I could hear her speak. I really appreciated the author's optimism and boldness and bravery. Don't get me wrong, there were times when she did consider the alternative to surviving, but each time she found a way through it and continued to march on. Her story was inspiring to me because we each go through trials in our lifetime, some much more atrocious that others, but she reminds us to keep our heads up, and keep moving forward. The author did a great job of humanizing herself and her family. I know that sounds like a strange statement, but as she recounts the events that she went through, there were so many times the Germans had tried to dehumanize Jewish people so that it would be easy to get a following among non-Jews & treat them poorly. So I really loved that she took the time to establish her background...she told us of her parents' successful marriage, their beautiful home and garden, her dad's successful business, trips they took as a family, birthday party memories, etc. She really demonstrated that her family could be any other family living in Germany, Poland, or even the United States at that time. As with any holocaust story, there are some dark tales woven in here and we are with her as she loses many loved ones over the course of six years. However, she honors those people by taking their best qualities forward and remembering those traits and trying to incorporate them into her own life. She uses those memories to keep pushing to survive. At one point in the novel she explains that she used to write plays to entertain the other girls in the concentration camp and tells us as she writes the novel years later what a blessing it was to be able to bring light into the darkness...if only she understood what a blessing she was to all those girls and women, looking for a little bit of normalcy in their everyday lives. I really admired how strong her faith was throughout the book and I also really admired that she never lost track of who she was. She never gave up her integrity in order to survive, even though she was given the opportunity several times. Overall, I thought this was a great read, and given the subject matter, it wasn't a huge downer...of course, I feel sad for what happened, but more than anything I felt inspired by her integrity and perseverence. A quote from the novel that I enjoyed: "I have learned that when we bring comfort to others, we reassure ourselves, and when we dispel fear, we assuage our own fear as well."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    As someone who is not a native speaker of English, Gerda Weissmann Klein writes masterfully. Her recollections of the time she spent as a young Jewish girl under Nazi rule are vividly, heartbreakingly eloquent. Klein spent the first part of the war with her parents in their home town of Beilitz, Poland, marginalized by the German invaders and forced to live with more and more hardship before finally being separated from them and sent to a series of work camps. After being forced to march from th As someone who is not a native speaker of English, Gerda Weissmann Klein writes masterfully. Her recollections of the time she spent as a young Jewish girl under Nazi rule are vividly, heartbreakingly eloquent. Klein spent the first part of the war with her parents in their home town of Beilitz, Poland, marginalized by the German invaders and forced to live with more and more hardship before finally being separated from them and sent to a series of work camps. After being forced to march from the final camp through the wintry wilderness of Germany to Czechoslovakia, she is finally liberated. I guess I had a picture in my head of all the Jews being rounded up immediately at the start of the war, and spending the entire time in camps, which some were able to survive. I always wondered why, for the most part, they did not fight back. I realize after reading this book that this was a very inaccurate and uninformed idea. The marginalization happened so gradually and the propaganda was so overwhelming, plus people like Gerda had such a faith in humankind, thinking that people could not possibly be so cruel as to do the things they eventually ended up doing. I am ashamed that I never thought to learn more about this era prior to now. Despite the horrid atrocity of the events in her life, Gerda writes with such sunniness and vitality that her story is not unbearably depressing. It is eminently readable and highly recommended. The only thing I was bothered by while reading this was Klein's habit of telling what ended up happening to people as soon as we meet them, even though they continue to play into the story. For example, upon meeting Suse in the work camp, Gerda tells us Suse will die in the morning of the day they are liberated. Sues then continues to figure in to the story, all the while the reader knows she's doomed. This steals a little from the story, as the reader, already knowing Gerda will survive and Suse will not, has been spoiled by this knowledge.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    At 9:10 a.m. Gerda Weissmann’s life ended; the Nazis invaded Poland and red, black, and white flags with swastikas hung from her neighbor’s windows. Uncertainty turns into upheaval first with the deportation of her brother and then with the loss of her family’s home. Her ill father becomes listless; her mother withdrawals into herself. And almost as quickly as it begins Gerda finds herself in the Bielitz ghetto where she separated from her father, then to a transit camp where she is separated fr At 9:10 a.m. Gerda Weissmann’s life ended; the Nazis invaded Poland and red, black, and white flags with swastikas hung from her neighbor’s windows. Uncertainty turns into upheaval first with the deportation of her brother and then with the loss of her family’s home. Her ill father becomes listless; her mother withdrawals into herself. And almost as quickly as it begins Gerda finds herself in the Bielitz ghetto where she separated from her father, then to a transit camp where she is separated from her mother, and then onto the labour camp, Bolkenhain. This is only the beginning of Klein’s story, a story that ends with the Nazis robbing her of all but her life. This is the book that’s been missing from my course on the Holocaust. We’ve learned about Merin, a member of the Judenrat who lined his pockets; we’ve learned about the difference between labour camps and concentration camps. And according to our syllabus, in the coming weeks we’re going to learn about death marches. But as well as my professor is at telling stories for lectures instead of saying “these are the facts you need to know,” there is something you can only get by reading the memoir of a survivor. The “I” makes it personal; the “I” makes facts visible realities. Even on the written side, All But My Life is one of the most, if not the most, well-written written memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s heart-wrenching, emotional, and personal when other Holocaust memoirs are distant. You relive Klein’s past, and I can understand why in the preface Klein says she is now, finally, emancipated from her burden. It’s so personal, so powerful, and worth every tear I shed. And I would love to read The Hours After, a collection of letters between Klein and her husband, U.S. Army lieutenant Kurt Klein, who liberated her on May 7th, 1945, after the war.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Al_anna Smunt

    Gerda Weissmann Klein recalls her life as a Jew during the Holocaust in Poland, and in the other countries she traveled to and worked in as a prisoner. I have to come clean with the fact that this book is the first autobiography I have ever finished in my life! I have always enjoyed fiction and nonfiction alike, but biographies were always dull challenges until this one. Though the prose leaves a little to be desired, I surprise myself when I say that couldn't put the book down. I like that Weiss Gerda Weissmann Klein recalls her life as a Jew during the Holocaust in Poland, and in the other countries she traveled to and worked in as a prisoner. I have to come clean with the fact that this book is the first autobiography I have ever finished in my life! I have always enjoyed fiction and nonfiction alike, but biographies were always dull challenges until this one. Though the prose leaves a little to be desired, I surprise myself when I say that couldn't put the book down. I like that Weissmann Klein discusses both the camps in which she was pleased to work, and those she dreaded every day. Of course, her story was still dismal, but not unbearable for the reader, and I was able to see just what kinds of people and situations kept hope alive for her under such dreary conditions. I also like that though it is an autobiography, in many parts, it reads like fiction; the flow speeds up during times of suspense, and the reader needs to find out how the episode is resolved. However, in other parts, the book acts like an autobiography and slows down for detailed descriptions of living situations and circumstances, for which the book took a while to get through (about a week, for 261 pages), which makes me wonder what kind of reader would be into it, and how long it might take him/her. I'd say upper high school, and even then it might be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the genre. I'd certainly recommend this book for literature circles during a Holocaust unit.

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