Customer Reviews for

All But My Life: A Memoir

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The true story of a young girl who had lost all but her life.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the holocaust because it demonstrates how strength and love can be found in unlikely places and how hope can still exist when all else is lost. Gerda, a real holocaust survivor, writes in a way that is so pe...
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the holocaust because it demonstrates how strength and love can be found in unlikely places and how hope can still exist when all else is lost. Gerda, a real holocaust survivor, writes in a way that is so personal that you feel like you are in the story with her constantly battling for life and overcoming hopelessness. When each member of Gerda's family is shipped separately to different camps and until she is liberated Gerda is constantly telling herself lies and holding the picture of her homecoming in her heart for strength by believing that she has something left to live for after the war. This really is still something I think about and how after the war she never returned to the home of her childhood because deep down she knew that her family was dead and was never coming back home. Another part that made me put down the book and think about was when Gerda had put together a play to entertain her fellow prisoners and to amuse her jailers. Gerda was glad to make them all forget about their doomed futures and make them smile. This gave all the girls hope that someday everything might be normal and reminded them that the rhythm of the work camps is not the only thing that exists in the world. Gerda finds love and kindness from an unlikely American solider to a German officer who risks everything to bring the girls notes into the camp they work at. Gerda is an extremely strong woman to overcome the slaughter of her childhood home, her family, her friends, and the loss of all but her life.

posted by Cougar_H on December 15, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Great Book in context not so grest in editing

This was a well written memoir. I would recommend for anyone who is interested in this subject matter. HOWEVER, I am very disappointed with the editing. I was reading along & when I turned the page it wouldn ' t make sense. Sometimes a phrase would be missing but...
This was a well written memoir. I would recommend for anyone who is interested in this subject matter. HOWEVER, I am very disappointed with the editing. I was reading along & when I turned the page it wouldn ' t make sense. Sometimes a phrase would be missing but once it must have been several sentances. I have no idea why the SS picked her out to go into the woods. The next page they were marching again. For several other books this has happened and there have been other typos. But they were free. I paid for this one. I AM VERY UNHAPPY WITH BARNES AND NOBLE

posted by Anonymous on July 19, 2013

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Nothing to call home

    Ripped away from everything she has ever known, Gerda struggled by being taken away from her family and home and forced to work in Jewish slave camps for years. She had to reach deep inside herself to muster her hope and courage and fought everyday to survive. Waiting for the liberation day, Weissmann talks about the unbelievable triumphs she overcame while being a hostage of the German army.

    The invasion of Poland will be one day some people will never forget. One person such as Gerda Weissmann. In the novel All But My Life by Gerda Weismann, a carefree child born in Poland grows into a teenager, separated from her family searching for answers as she transfers from work camp to work camp, growing up without a home and not a single familiar face.

    While reading the novel All But My Life, I noticed all of the different stories she had experienced and was now re-living but the book seemed to drone on in some parts, dragging out some parts that were very slow. I also wondered if those stories were the full stories, and if she truly remembered the experience. I didn't get a great sense of emotion out of the book as if she was a blank slate while writing it; I would have loved to hear about every emotion as if it was ripping out of the pages onto me and so I could picture the scene as realistically as she had experienced it the first time.

    Since the Holocaust is something that amazes me, I love to hear about different stories. This story was one that I had never heard before and it opened up my eyes to so many of the personal battles one faces while in the camps. I thought Weissmann did an awesome job at relaying the stories in order, in other words, it was very easy to follow along her journey. I loved her message of hope and to still fight until your last breath because you can decide your own fate.

    If you are a huge Holocaust enthusiast, then I really recommend All But My Life. It was a very captivating story that affected me deeply. It kept my attention, and since I'm not much of a reader, not many books tend to grab me the way this novel did.

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  • Posted November 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Phenomenal Holocaust Memoir.....

    ALL BUT MY LIFE recounts the story of Gerda Weissmann, a young woman forced into slave labor for the Nazis during the Holocaust. Stripped from her father, mother, and brother, Gerda must endure cruel working conditions, little to no food, and harsh weather as she fights for survival during Nazi Germany in the 1940s. Gerda promised her father that she wouldn't give up and with her mother's last words of "Be Strong", young Gerda keeps going, even when there is no hope left.

    The book is divided into three parts. In Part One, we learn of Gerda and her immediate family before the war and during the beginning of the war. They are a family of pure strength and love. I was struck by the intense closeness of her family and cried when they were ripped apart.

    In Part Two, we relive Gerda's experiences during her time in the Nazi labor camps, being shuttled from one camp to the next, some better than others. The friendships Gerda is able to make with other girls at camp are heartwarming, yet heart wrenching. How hard it must be to become close to someone who may not be there the next minute, hour, or day? The decisions Gerda makes throughout this period are, at times, unbelievable, yet she survived. I have no doubt that she was meant to live to tell her story and that of her family and friends. What if Gerda had made a different decision at a crucial crossroads?

    Finally, in Part Three, we are told of Gerda's life after she was liberated by Lt. Kurt Klein, who becomes her husband. What an incredible love story.

    This is a book of inspiration, faith, and hope. It will definitely make one think of problems in a new light. If the human spirit can endure what Gerda did, then we all can survive what is thrown at us, even when it seems like we cannot.

    I whole-heartedly recommend this book to everyone. It's phenomenal. I cannot praise it enough. Although it is not an easy book to read, the message it sends is one of hope and strength. We can all survive, we can all make it. Thank you for telling us your story, Mrs. Klein. It is not one I will ever forget. 5+ stars!

    Jennifer
    http://www.crazy-for-books.com

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  • Posted September 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    All But My Life

    This is the amazing and heart-wrenching story of one brave and spirited young Jewish woman's survival of the Holocaust including her imprisonment in slave labor camps and a three month forced march from Germany to Czechoslovakia.
    Many of the first hand details of her horrifying experience are unfathomable and difficult to read and absorb; the starvation, physical abuse, murder, death and suffering of so many.
    But what is amazing is Gerda's interminable spirit and her dedication to her convictions. She could have done things that may have alleviated some of her suffering but she never compromised her values. There were times it seemed that her choices might bring her to her death.
    Also amazing was the fact that she continued to have hope. There were moments when she felt she had lost all hope, but even then she continued to honor the promise she made to her father. At the end, during the death march, she hoped for liberation and continued to encourage her friends to survive. The death march started with 2,000 young women and ended with only 120 survivors. Every morning she would wake to see many who had died during the night.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2009

    all but my life

    good read. had to read for a class. but i really thought it was good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    Touching and inspiring

    This is a touching reminder of the horror that occurred during World War II and of the amazing strength and hope of those who lived through it. Gerda writes her story in such a way as to almost shield the readers (and herself) from the day-to-day horrors she saw and survived. Most atrocities are vaguely mentioned and not dwelled on. She shows courage and strength at every turning point, every moment. She adeptly balances the infinite sadness of the Holocaust and the undefeatable will to live.

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    tom cox's review pplease comment

    Pet project by Tom Cox
    When I started to read this book, I thought it would be another amazing book about the struggles and hardships of the Holocaust. I was extremely wrong; it was way more than that! Gerda Weissmann Klein takes you through every night, every tear that was shed, and every breath that was taken in her journey of survival with her family, and without her family.
    Gerda went through, along with thousands of others, the fear, pain, and desperation that millions of others couldn't even understand in a life time. She has recreated the scenes from her house, the burned down church, and the Nazis marching down the street as if you were right by her side.
    She shows you this story to the very detail. This book was the greatest book I have read about the holocaust. One way that she helped us to understand her situation was through the letters she sent to people like Abek, and her uncle in Turkey. She really creates a mental image of every single scene.
    My favorite part of the book was when she decided to turn down two offers to make her life better, but by turning down those offers she saved her self from the hidden death the was to come to the people of where she was offered to stay. One way the book that really made me think about some of the Nazi's was when the SS leader of her factory saved her when she was sick because one of the cruelest men in the SS came to "liquidate" the unfit to work and at the time she was sick but the lady forced her to get up and go to a machine so she wasn't sent to Auschwitz.
    READ THIS BOOK NOW OR ELSE

    haha my teacher

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

    Incredible Story

    I had visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D. C and at the end of the tour in the amphitheater they have narratives of survivors. Gerda Weissmann Klein was one of the survivors that spoke. I was so moved by her story that I bought the book and found it be very inspiring. The strength, determination and ultimately...the love that comes through in reading the book is amazing. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    ...an amazing story

    I picked out this book to read for a school project. It is an amazing to read how she survived-both physically and mentally-through all the tragedies. It's just an amazing book and really touches you.. its very sad but an amazing story. I reccomend this book to everybody. It really got me interested in books about the holocost- it was a very sad and tragic time and the Nazis were incredibly sick. This book almost brought tears to my eyes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    Amazing

    Gerda's story really got to me. I read her story within the course of 4 hours and was astounded at how strong a woman she is and has been. I was so moved by this book and what she came through. This is an amazing story and I am glad she has told it. I agree with another reviewer that this should be required reading in schools. The only thing is I would have liked to see more photos of her family. Towards the end of the book, she mentions how she receives over 400 photos of her family, her most prized possession. That has me curious about her family yet there were hardly any photos in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    THE BEST

    This is such an outstanding piece of writing. Gerda's life is unimaginable. The things she goes trough are unbelievable. I bought the book in 1996, and have read her story so many times. I have met the author and she is such an amazing woman. She is full of courage and so is the book. After reading this book, you will see a different perspective on life. You won't take anything for granted. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2008

    Must read

    I thought ¿All But My Life¿ was a good book. It¿s about a young girl who is sent to these concentration camps and just trying to survive. She is separated from her family and is forced to do labor work. She goes through six years of hell walking all around Europe going to camp from camp. She is beaten and starved through most of the book. Every time she is settling at a camp she is forced to go to another one. She makes many friends at these camps who seem to help her survive this nightmare. Some of her friends sacrificed them self¿s to help the author get some rest because she was working a lot with very little sleep. It was sad on how the outcome ended on what the author had to go through. I think if anyone likes to read a non-fiction book that has a war involved you should read this book. This book is detailed very well and it show that you can survive when times are hard. For a female I think they would enjoy it much more then a male only because it starts to turn to a love story at the end. Also I think a female would be able to relate on how she real feels. But everything else was good it kept me on what was going to happen next. This book was so well I read it really quick for being someone who does not like to read a lot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Book starts Off Ok But then takes a turn for the worse then it is like the never ending story

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    If you enjoy reading and learning about the tragedies of the Holocaust All But My Life is the book for you. Gerda Weissmann Klein¿s memoir tells you the three frightful years she spent in slave labor camps and her miraculous liberation. Gerda Weissmann Klein opens your eyes with her first hand account her and her family experienced in the Holocaust. At the age of fifteen Klein experienced of what she says to be the beginning of the tragedy which lasted for six years. In her hometown of Bielitz, Poland Klein and her family would hide trying to escape the possibility of being taken away to concentration camps. September 3, 1939 is a day the Klein says she will never forget it was the day that her life had turned upside down. Gerda and her family had to hide in basements but hiding was made difficult because her Father was very ill. Gerda was a very intelligent girl just trying to be optimistic in this world of terror. In May of 1942 shortly after Klein¿s eighteenth birthday all Jews were ordered to register for work. The Weissmann family was sent to camps to make their town a Jew free town. Her parents were taken away and sent to death camps while Klein was sent to a different camp. Klein explains in such great detail the hardships and sacrifices she made throughout her time in the different concentration camps. It is amazing how even Klein¿s skeleton like body in the death marches in concentration camps is able to preserver and on liberation day have the confidence to pick up her life and start new with someone who can see her for and not just a Jewish Holocaust survivor. I enjoyed reading Klein¿s memoir because I think it is important to know about history and what real people actually had to endure. Klein is such a strong person and you can tell she had has so much passion to look through that bad and found the basic good in humanity. Klein uses great imagery throughout the book, you almost feel like you are there with her though out these horrific experiences. I would recommend this book over the The Diary of Anne Frank because I found this book unforgettable and inspiring. I think people should read this book it is important to know what some people had to go through for no reason. I found myself rethinking my life and how my little problems don¿t even compare to Gerda Weissman Klein¿s life experiences. I give this book two thumbs up. It taught me how important it is to have hope, faith, and friendship and hopefully would teach others the same. I enjoyed reading about Klein¿s courage. So, if you enjoy learning about history and reading about a great life story with a happy ending, you should read All But My Life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2007

    It is very sad

    I read this book for my English class and I really enjoyed it. Gerda Weissmann Klein left us how much she suffer when the Nazi Germanies took power over Polan and how she lost their parents and brohter. I really felt sorry for her because his chilhood was not happy as she would be preffer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2007

    This is a Thought-provoking Novel

    I have read this book several times and I enjoyed every single one of them. Gerda Weissman had outstanding courage and helped others around her to keep morale during such a dark part of world history. She was a remarkable individual and this autobiography was equally amazing. This novel made me really think hard about the Holocaust and so many innocent others who have been murdered by the Nazis. This is a gripping story and you will be sitting on the edge of your seat until you finish it. I would recommend this touching and thought-provoking book for readers of all ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2006

    Better than Anne Frank! 3

    I read this book for my Honor's English Class, and I really enjoyed it. Some parts were very hard to read, so you might want to keep a very large box of kleenex close by.There were parts of this book that made my heart ache Gerda- not only for the horrific & unthinkable situation that she was forced into, but also for what she saw. Her best friend dies in her arms. When Gerda said that she still has a great faith in humanity, that really suprised me. Considering what she went through, i'm not too sure that many people in today's society could honestly say that. This was a great book! I think that's it's almost better than Anne Frank- just because Anne's story didn't move along as well as Gerda's did- but the two girls were in totally different situations to some extent (that must be taken into consideration).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2006

    outstanding

    I read this book in two days, exceptional writing that brought tears to my eyes several times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2005

    Wonderfully Sad

    This is the first book I read by a Holocaust survivor. All the heartache and strength were described flawlessly. I still marvel at what these brave, strong people had to go through. This story really makes one's problems seem small and unimportant when you think of what was happening to these people durning this hard time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2004

    Wonderful book for all ages!

    I had the privilege of hearing Gerda Weissmann Klein a few years ago while in college. After hearing her speak, I purchased her book and met her that day. Her book is a very sad and moving story that I would recommend to anyone. My whole family read it: parents, siblings, and grandparents and we were all very moved by the story and the sadness of the tale. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2004

    good book

    i had the privilege of hearing Gerda Weissmann Klein speak at my school this past year, she is amazing and so is her story. everyone should read this insightful book!

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