Strange and Unexpected Love: A Teenage Girl's Holocaust Memoirs

Strange and Unexpected Love: A Teenage Girl's Holocaust Memoirs

by Fanya Gottesfeld Heller
     
 

"During the long nights in the attic, Jan and I told each other about our lives, what we'd done and what we expected to do. We excluded present time, the war, its ferocity, its irrationality; the hours spent in the attic seemed borrowed, not real, because they were unbidden." "What an unlikely pair we made; a Ukranian shoemaker and a Jewish high school girl! We had…  See more details below

Overview

"During the long nights in the attic, Jan and I told each other about our lives, what we'd done and what we expected to do. We excluded present time, the war, its ferocity, its irrationality; the hours spent in the attic seemed borrowed, not real, because they were unbidden." "What an unlikely pair we made; a Ukranian shoemaker and a Jewish high school girl! We had begun to think of ourselves as a couple, each one finding in the other someone to confide in, a person with whom to share an impermissible yearning or a strange dream." "I told him uncensored stories in the belief that if I didn't offer them now, no one might ever hear them." Strange and Unexpected Love is a dramatic and intensely detailed account of one family's survival during the four-year Nazi occupation of the Ukraine. It is a moving and lyrical account of a young woman's emotional and physical awakening and her first experience with love. Fanya Heller was raised in a traditionally observant middle-class Jewish family in the town of Skala in Eastern Poland. Despite starvation, disease, restrictive and squalid hiding places, and constant danger of arrest by the Nazis, Fanya and her family lived through the war thanks to the courage of two Christian rescuers. One was Sidor, a Polish peasant who hid them on his farm. The other was Jan, a young, handsome Ukrainian shoemaker turned militiaman. Fanya had not known Jan before the war, but he had loved her from afar. When the Nazis occupied Skala, he came to the rescue, protecting her and her family by finding them secure hiding places and providing them with food and other supplies. In time, touched by his devotion and self-sacrifice, Fanya reciprocated Jan's love. With life totally dismantled, their love created an island of sanity and safety in an otherwise chaotic existence. Heller has an exceptional eye for detail and does a dextrous job of giving the reader an intimate sense of the day-to-day lives of her family under siege. As Rabbi Irving Greenb

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It took 10 years of psychoanalysis for Heller--of middle-class Polish Jewish background--to face and record five teenaged years of Nazi terror she had experienced in occupied Poland. This trauma culminated, ironically, at the time of their liberation, when her father was murdered. Many suspected Heller's non-Jewish, Ukranian militiaman lover who, along with a peasant family, risked his life to save the rest of her family. The reason for the murder, according to speculation, was the father's disapproval that his daughter's lover was not of their faith. The family's sufferings (near-starvation and illness in a lightless, lice-infested hideaway) are hair-raising and well-told here. With the mystery of her father's death still unsolved, Heller ends her wrenching memoir with her marriage in 1946 to a Jew. In a postscript she writes that she, her husband (who died in 1986), son and two daughters lived in various European cities before emigrating to New York City in the late '60s. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780881254679
Publisher:
KTAV Publishing House, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/1993
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
282
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.12(d)

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