Smoke over Birkenau

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Winner of the PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award

An Italian-Jewish journalist and schoolteacher who joined the Italian partisans in 1943, Liana Millu was arrested in 1944 and deported to Birkenau. The astonishing stories in this book tell of the women who lived and suffered alongside her.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Curls of smoke constantly rising from the chimneys of the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau form the backdrop for this moving and powerful Holocaust testimony of the women's camp. Written in Italian and translated by novelist Schwartz, it won the 1991 PEN Renato Poggioli translation award. The six narratives presented revolve around the feminine aspects of the prisoner's minimal lives. The author is a presence in each narrative, recording events that defy description. In ``Lili Marlene,'' the women are part of a kommando unit filling up trams with sand to build roads. Lili, a beautiful 17-year-old Hungarian, is prey to the advances of the German boyfriend of her Kapo, Mia. After being severely beaten by Mia, Lili is deemed unfit for future work, and at the evening selection Dr. Mengele takes her out of line. In ``Under Cover of Darkness'' Maria unsuccessfully tries to hide a pregnancy, hoping for freedom and the possibility of raising her child. The dignity of these narrations helps to personalize the individual sufferings and deaths of the millions of anonymous victims of the Nazis.-- Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810115699
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Series: Jewish Lives Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 745,381
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

An Italian-Jewish journalist and schoolteacher who joined the Italian partisans in 1943, Liana Millu was arrested in 1944 and deported to Birkenau.

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