My Years in Theresienstadt: How One Woman Survived the Holocaust [NOOK Book]

Overview

She has learned to forgive, but she can never forget. And neither can we.

Gerty Spies was born in 1897 at Trier into a Jewish family whose ancestors had lived in Germany for centuries. Separated from her family by the Nazis, she was sent to the Czech camp known as Theresienstadt. It was a peculiar place: publicized as a retirement city, a Nazi propaganda showplace where Jews could sit out the war. But it was actually a way station for those ...
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My Years in Theresienstadt: How One Woman Survived the Holocaust

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Overview

She has learned to forgive, but she can never forget. And neither can we.

Gerty Spies was born in 1897 at Trier into a Jewish family whose ancestors had lived in Germany for centuries. Separated from her family by the Nazis, she was sent to the Czech camp known as Theresienstadt. It was a peculiar place: publicized as a retirement city, a Nazi propaganda showplace where Jews could sit out the war. But it was actually a way station for those destined for the Auschwitz death camp. Isolated from the outside world, surrounded by death, Spies retreated to her inner self to concentrate on human, cultural, and other values. Her powerful talent for writing, discovered at the camp; enabled her to transcend and triumph over mental and physical degradations; to keep her own integrity; to not let evil destroy her loving nature; and, finally, to not lose faith in humanity. By the end of the war, 33,000 people died in Theresienstadt from disease and malnutrition. Spies' work exhibits a tension between the expression of camp reality and an imagination of an idealized past. Sensitive and humorous, but never bitter, her stories of the struggle for survival are expressions of her own individual moral poise.

Gerty Spies, (Munich, Germany) 98, is the author of Das schwarze Kleid (The Black Garment). She has received awards promoting ongoing dialogue between Jews and non-Jews, and has served as honorary chairperson for the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation. Jutta R. Tragnitz is a doctoral candidate in the German Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Spies recalls her daily camp life in vivid and haunting vignettes, describing watching friends and family die, the lack of food and the exhausting labor she was forced to perform. . . . She credits her writing with helping keep her alive and convincing her to forgive but not forget her persecutors." -Publishers Weekly

". . . a moving story of how prisoners managed to maintain a semblance of dignity during a horrific period." -Library Journal
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Spies, a Jew born in Germany in 1897, spent three years during WWII in Theresienstadt, the so-called model ghetto established by the Nazis northwest of Prague, where prisoners supposedly cultivated artistic pursuits. In reality, the camp was a holding station whence many Jews were ultimately dispatched to Auschwitz and other death camps in Poland. Because the author was once married to a Gentile-the marriage "ended" after about seven years, notes the translator (Spies herself does not elaborate)-she was not deported until 1942, and her two children were never incarcerated. Spies recalls her daily camp life in vivid and haunting vignettes, describing watching friends and family die, the lack of food and the exhausting labor she was forced to perform. She committed herself to writing poetry and keeping a diary, a selection of which is included here, that she had to keep hidden from the camp guards. She credits her writing with helping keep her alive and convincing her to forgive but not forget her persecutors. After the war, Spies returned to live and publish books in Germany.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Spies, a Jew born in Germany in 1897, spent three years during WWII in Theresienstadt, the so-called model ghetto established by the Nazis northwest of Prague, where prisoners supposedly cultivated artistic pursuits. In reality, the camp was a holding station whence many Jews were ultimately dispatched to Auschwitz and other death camps in Poland. Because the author was once married to a Gentilethe marriage "ended" after about seven years, notes the translator (Spies herself does not elaborate)she was not deported until 1942, and her two children were never incarcerated. Spies recalls her daily camp life in vivid and haunting vignettes, describing watching friends and family die, the lack of food and the exhausting labor she was forced to perform. She committed herself to writing poetry and keeping a diary, a selection of which is included here, that she had to keep hidden from the camp guards. She credits her writing with helping keep her alive and convincing her to forgive but not forget her persecutors. After the war, Spies returned to live and publish books in Germany. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library Journal
Holocaust survivor Spies's mixture of prose, poetry, and diary entries was first published in German in 1984. Eschewing a strictly chronological approach, the author moves back and forth in describing her daily life in Theresienstadt, the Nazis' "model" ghetto/concentration camp in occupied Bohemia, which was often just a temporary stop for inmates prior to deportation to Auschwitz. Given the camp's special status, the Germans encouraged artistic and cultural activities, especially to impress the outside observers who were sometimes permitted to visit. Although conditions were miserable and slave labor exhausting, Spies found time to give recitals and to write poems. While not attempting to offer a history of Theresienstadt, this remarkable woman, who remained in Germany after the war and never succumbed to bitterness, tells a moving story of how prisoners managed to maintain a semblance of dignity during a horrific period.John A. Drobnicki, York Coll. Lib., Jamaica, N.Y.
Booknews
This recollection of both the attempted extinction of the Jewish people and one woman's three-year ordeal in a Czechoslovakian concentration camp strengthens the link between the disastrous past and the new and hopeful future. Gertie Spies's amazingly positive outlook can be summarized in her two sayings: Understand and love, and Forgive, but don't forget. She tells her personal account of the Holocaust without bitterness, and in hopes that people of all kinds will better understand each other. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616140540
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/1997
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 493,268
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Gerty Spies, (Munich, Germany) 98, is the author of Das schwarze Kleid (The Black Garment). She has received awards promoting ongoing dialogue between Jews and non-Jews, and has served as honorary chairperson for the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation. Jutta R. Tragnitz is a doctoral candidate in the German Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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    Posted January 26, 2013

    Holding dem

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