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Posted March 18, 2009
Ester and Ruzya (Central)
Ester and Ruzya How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace by Masha Gessen is a memoir about two women going through the pain suffered by Jews during World War Two. Both of these women happen to be her grandmothers and were a very important part in her life. As a journalist she always wanted to write a book on World War Two.
The idea of this book grew out of many conversations that she had with them, in which they recounted their experiences growing up and building their lives during a time of war. This is a memoir that reads like a story. Both are Jewish, but were raised in separate ways. Ester is Polish, and her city was turned into a ghetto, and deported by the Nazis who were controlled and commanded by Hitler. Ruzya is Russian, and she faces panic brought by Stalin's rule, where she is greatly distrusted. Both women are separated from their parents, siblings, husbands, and friends during one point in their lives, and end up meeting in Moscow and becoming friends towards the war's end.
Masha Gessen combines both of their stories into a very touching memoir. It shows how even though things were tough, the hardships during this time made their friendship stronger. It is not free of bias, because these are Gessen's grandmothers, who she had a strong relationship with. She obviously views them in certain ways. Gessen is an extraordinary storyteller, and takes what they have told her, and adds it to her own research to create a captivating memoir that gives you insight on the way of life for Jews during world War Two.
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