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Thanks to My Mother

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Susie Weksler was only eight in 1941 when Hitler's forces invaded her Lithuanian city of Vilnius, a great center for Jewish learning and culture. Soon her family would face hunger and fear in the Jewish ghetto - but worse was to come. When the ghetto was liquidated, some Jews were selected for forced labor camps; the rest were killed. Susie would live - because of the courage and ingenuity of her mother. It was her mother who carried Susie, hidden in a backpack, to the group destined for the labor camps; who ...
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Thanks to My Mother

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Overview

Susie Weksler was only eight in 1941 when Hitler's forces invaded her Lithuanian city of Vilnius, a great center for Jewish learning and culture. Soon her family would face hunger and fear in the Jewish ghetto - but worse was to come. When the ghetto was liquidated, some Jews were selected for forced labor camps; the rest were killed. Susie would live - because of the courage and ingenuity of her mother. It was her mother who carried Susie, hidden in a backpack, to the group destined for the labor camps; who disguised her as an adult in makeup and turban to fool the camp guards; who fed her body and soul through gruesome conditions in three concentration camps and a winter "death march"; who showed her the power of the human spirit to endure.

After struggling to survive in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, a young Jewish girl and her mother endure much suffering in Kaiserwald, Stutthof, and Tauentzien concentration camps and on an eleven-day death march before being liberated by the Russian army.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Particularly grim, even for a Holocaust memoir, this work owes much of its force to the author's unusually detailed powers of memory. Only eight when Germany occupied her home city of Vilnius in Lithuania, Rabinovici endured nearly two years of extreme privation in the Jewish ghetto established by the Nazis and spent the balance of the war in concentration camps. As her title indicates, she owes her survival to her mother, a fast-thinking realist whose courage and ingenuity were bolstered by family wealth and extensive contacts. Rabinovici is unsparing in her recollections: she describes "selections" during which babies abandoned by their mothers are trampled by the crowds; bathhouse abortions; a hellish journey in the cargo deck of a ship, where the passengers are sprayed with feces and vomit. The only concession to young readers appears to be footnotes that define religious, political and historical terms. The writing suffers from repetition and a stiff styleperhaps a reflection on the book's original composition in German, not the author's native tongue although she has made her home in both Tel Aviv and Vienna since 1964. Too, the author lacks the redemptive vision of, for example, Livia Bitton-Jackson in I Have Lived a Thousand Years. But readersadults or youthswhose interest in Holocaust testimonies does not pivot on literary polish and who are mentally prepared for the harshness of Rabinovici's experiences will come away with renewed appreciation of the extraordinary fortitude and fortune required to survive in those dire times. Ages 13-up. Apr.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW called this Holocaust memoir "particularly grim. The work owes much of its force to the author's unusually detailed powers of memory." Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
VOYA - Victoria Yablonsky
The unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust are told in plain language in this detailed memoir. The author, known then as Susanne Weksler, survived the Vilnius ghetto and spent more than three years in the Kaiserwald labor camp and the Stutthof extermination camp, enduring "actions," "selections," forced marches, camp liquidations, hunger, beatings, illness, and degradation. Rabinovici credits her survival to the indomitable spirit of her mother, whose love and bravery carried them both through their harrowing ordeal while only one other member of their entire family survived the war. Because Rabinovici was only eleven when she entered her first camp, her mother hid her from selections for extermination, continually concealed her age by disguising her as an adult, bartered and smuggled food and clothing for her, and kept both their spirits and bodies alive. Rabinovici provides graphic details of ghetto and camp life as well as her family history and personal feelings. Her commentary gives us descriptions of her feelings of loss, her growing awareness of the baseness and cruelty of mankind, and lessons she learned from her ordeal. This clear translation from German, with helpful footnotes explaining terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader, makes the book accessible for high school age audiences. This is a welcome addition to the growing list of Holocaust memoirs. Photos. Maps. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
KLIATT
This memoir is the harrowing story of young Susie Wexsler and her mother, Lithuanian Jews who survived the Holocaust. Originally written in Hebrew, translated into German, and then from German to English, this book should not be read for its literary style. Its emotional impact, however, is tremendous. Rabinovici (her married name) witnessed, at the age of eight, the invasion of the Germans into her hometown of Vilnius, and immediately her life changed. Discrimination and deprivation became the norm; in no time the family lost their business and their home and soon were forced to live in the Jewish ghetto, where food, shelter, sanitation, and safety were in short supply, and terror and disappearances of loved ones and acquaintances were routine. Later came the emptying of the ghetto, the train ride to the concentration camp, and the camp itself. Susie's mother took brave measures throughout the terror to protect her daughter, making sacrifices and taking risks on her behalf, using ingenuity to gain favors, and hiding her from the Germans when necessary. Daily life in the concentration camp is described, as is the later transport to an extermination camp, the Death March, and a final camp. Ultimately, at the point when Susie could no longer go on despite her mother's courageous efforts, the liberation came. This memoir is graphic and disturbing. It makes a tremendous impact. How could people be so cruel? How could anyone survive? Fortunately some did live to tell the tale as it really happened, and thanks to her mother, Rabinovici has done that. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Penguin/Puffin, 246p,23cm, 97-14407, $7.99. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Barbara Shepp; Chevy Chase, MD, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Schoschana Rabinovici, born Susie Weksler, survived three concentration camps and unimaginable horrors, all before she was twelve years old. In this fascinating book, she tells us more than most of us want to know about the Holocaust, shows how her mother managed to smuggle her in a backpack through the lines of prisoners, disguise her as an adult, and keep her as safe as humanly possible. By the end of the war, only three of her entire family remained. Rabinovici makes clear that her survival was due to her mother's strength and love.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 UpRabinovici recounts in exacting detail how the Holocaust decimated her large, extended Lithuanian family. She was only eight years old when Hitler's army invaded Vilnius, a once-vibrant center of Jewish learning and culture. Staying one step ahead of the Nazis and their Lithuanian and Polish sympathizers, her family migrated from one house to another until they were caught and herded with 10,000 other Jews into a barbed-wire ghetto where they endured starvation, sickness, torture, and bitter cold. From the ghetto prison, the surviving members of her family were transported to a labor camp after narrowly avoiding being sent to a concentration camp and certain, immediate murder. Only three family members survived the ordeal. One was her mother, who through cunning, courage, and will saved the author from death countless times. Although the narrative is written in a controlled, even tone, the harrowing experiences described here are hard to forget. Especially helpful to teen readers are the many brief footnotes explaining Yiddish expressions and Jewish customs that appear in the text. The book is clearly one of the most instructive and moving memoirs that have emerged from the Holocaust. It is both a living testament to the incomprehensible reality of the Holocaust and the author's tribute to her heroic mother.Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803722354
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.28 (w) x 6.34 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2009

    Thanks to My Mother!

    This book was absolutely amazing! I read it in a matter of two days because I just couldnt put it down. It's a great story of an eight year old girl named Susie Weksler, and her family and their struggles during the Holocaust. I am so interested in the history of the Holocaust and I have read many books about it, but never have I felt so much emotion while reading one as i did this book. It shows great strengths of a mother who is willing to do anyhting for her daughter so that she can survive, and I got out of it a great message, that no matter what, keep fighting through hard times, dont give up because in her case you can lose your life, and giving up will get you no where. I think that who ever is as interested in the Holocaust as me or anyone for that matter, should read this book because it really shows a great reality of what the Holocaust was like and what many children and families went through during this time. The concentration camps, starvation, forced labor, and brutality, and it makes you appreciate life and what we have and what we should be greatful for because compared to the life of these people in this book, and time, we have it so much easier. My rating is a 5!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2003

    Wonderful Book

    This is a wonderful book. It gives a first hand account of the Holocaust through a young girl's eyes. Her mother helps her live through concentration camps, ghettos and loss of family members. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in World War II or the Holocaust.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2003

    A great book!!

    I think that thanks to my mother is a great book and i would recomend it to all!! If you are jewish then this book is a MUST read!! So to all who reads this rating please tell everyone you know and read this book!!! <(*_*)>

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2002

    Excellent book!

    This book was excellent! I came across it without ever having heard of it, and I loved it! It tells the story of Susie Weksler, a Jewish girl living in Vilnius, Lithuania, during World War II. When the Nazis invade, she and her family are made to live in a ghetto. They are deported to concentration camps a couple of years later and Susie survives, because of her mother's bravery. I recommend this book very much!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2014

    I am in awe. I would like to say that I am the same kind of moth

    I am in awe. I would like to say that I am the same kind of mother as she is and I would do all the same things that she did.......but I can't because I was never in a situation where I had to make those kind of decisions. This story is a story of strength and endurance. And alot of LOVE!!!

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  • Posted February 26, 2012

    Thanks to My Mother - Read it!

    Thanks to my Mother was a terrific book written by Schoschana Rabinovici. She lived and survived through the holocaust at only 8 years old with the aid of her Grandfather, Aunt, Uncle, Step dad, Step sister and her Mother. The stories depicted in the book were very agonizing and shocking to read. Imagine what it would be like to know that your life could be taken away from you at any moment. While it is sad and heart wrenching, I found myself thoroughly hooked on her book and to hear the stories of perseverance in the worst of circumstances. Throughout this book, I was constantly amazed at Schoschana's will to live and her Mother's protective nature. It also struck me that there were everyday hero's in the darkest of places and events. There were several messages throughout this book but, the most common one was when Schoschana's mother often made a point that even when life is rough, you still have a choice on how to act, look, and behave. Also, according to her mom, if you give up on your actions, looks, or behavior, the difficult situation your in will become harder to survive. Schoschana learned throughout the experience that her mother was tenacious, courageous, and a survivor. Throughout this book, there were also pictures that made the stories so much more realistic. I had many likes about this book; it’s such a great read. The only dislike that I had was that the book ended! I highly recommend this book because, personally, I learned so much more about what life was like in concentration and work camps. I recommend this book for people who enjoy learning about the history of the holocaust and love reading about survivors. I finished the book in a day’s time with such a big sense of appreciation and gratitude for my life and the simple freedoms I take advantage of everyday. To see life go from normal to devastating was shocking. Along with this book, I also read The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz, also highly recommended! I over all give Thanks to My Mother 4 stars. You definitely want this in your book collection!

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  • Posted January 28, 2011

    A book that we should all read!

    Let us never forget! I could not stop reading this book!!

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  • Posted December 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Thanks to my Mother

    Thanks to my Mother was written by Schoschana Rabinovici who lived through the holocaust. What a agonizing tale it was to read.Imagine what it would be life to know that your life could be taken from you at any moment if you made even the quietest noise. While it is sad and heart wrenching. I found myself thoroughly hooked on her book to hear the stories of trying to stay alive in the worst of circumstances. I was amazed at her will to live and her Mother's ideas and protective nature. It also struck me that their were and are everyday hero's in the darkest of places. Meaning when life is terrible and in this case it was really terrible you still have a choice on how to act and behave. She learned that her mother was tenacious, courageous, and a survivor.I highly recommend this book because I learned so much more about what life was like in concentration camps. I recomend this book for people who enjoy learning about the history of the holocaust.I feel it was my duty to know and learn of their struggles so it would not be forgotten. I finished the book with such a big sense of appreciation and gratitude for my life and the simple freedoms I have everyday. To see life go from normal to that was totally shocking. I recomend this book for people who enjoy learning about the history of the holocaust.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2003

    Thanks to my mother

    I loved this book, and I still do! I read it alot... it is a very compelling book and very in depth. I would defonitely say that this book is better than any Anne Frank Diary entries. Thanks to my Mother is a great book, and my pages are worn and ripped from reading it soo much. I felt everything she felt... and understood and learned so much more in that book than any other Holocaust book. I hope everyone learns from it. Its a great book no matter what! I had read this book at my school for out Reading Classes... I think all teachers should use this book- ONLY this book- to learn both the harshness for men, women, and children in the Holocaust.

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    Posted May 10, 2010

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    Posted December 6, 2013

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    Posted January 21, 2010

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