Two Rings: A Story of Love and War

( 3 )

Overview


Judged only as a World War Two survivor’s chronicle, Millie Werber’s story would be remarkable enough. Born in central Poland in the town of Radom, she found herself trapped in the ghetto at the age of fourteen, a slave laborer in an armaments factory in the summer of 1942, transported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, before being marched to a second armaments factory. She faced death many times; indeed she was certain that she would not survive. But she did.

Many years ...

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Two Rings: A Story of Love and War

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Overview


Judged only as a World War Two survivor’s chronicle, Millie Werber’s story would be remarkable enough. Born in central Poland in the town of Radom, she found herself trapped in the ghetto at the age of fourteen, a slave laborer in an armaments factory in the summer of 1942, transported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, before being marched to a second armaments factory. She faced death many times; indeed she was certain that she would not survive. But she did.

Many years later, when she began to share her past with Eve Keller, the two women rediscovered the world of the teenage girl Millie had been during the war. Most important, Millie revealed her most precious private memory: of a man to whom she was married for a few brief months. He was—if not the love of her life—her first great unconditional passion. He died, leaving Millie with a single photograph taken on their wedding day, and two rings of gold that affirm the presence of a great passion in the bleakest imaginable time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From Fordham University professor Keller's interviews with Werber comes the expertly-told tragic story of a short-lived and star-crossed marriage during the Holocaust. Werber's tale begins in Radom, Poland where she shared a two-room apartment with her mother, father, and brother. In 1941, Radom was established as a ghetto and the family was required to move into a one-room apartment with Werber's aunt, uncle, and cousins. The next year, she was forced to live and work at an ammunitions factory at the age of 15. It was here that Werber met Heniek Greenspan, a Jewish man working as a police officer at the factory. In the span of a few months, they fell in love and surreptitiously married. She cannot recall exactly how long they were married before he was betrayed by a fellow officer and, presumably, sent to a death camp. He knew he was to be sent away and he brought his wedding band back to her, hoping she might sell it and increase her chances of survival. Throughout the war-including a horrific tenure in Auschwitz-Werber managed to hold on to both wedding rings and her wedding photo. Werber survived, married again, made it to the U.S., and had children, but the two rings serve as constant reminders of Heniek and their brief and hopeful love. B&W photos.
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Kirkus Reviews
A dramatic Holocaust memoir about young love and survival. Though told in Werber's voice, the book was written by Keller (Director of Graduate Studies/Fordham Univ.; Generating Bodies and Gendered Selves: The Rhetoric of Reproduction in Early Modern England, 2006). Werber's son urged Keller to interview his mother and write about her experiences of World War II. After 60 years of reticence, the Long Island–based Werber revealed the entirety of her hardships, including the loss of a first husband whose existence she had theretofore kept secret from her children. Born in Radom, Poland, at age 14 Werber was forced to live in a small Jewish ghetto. A year later she was laboring in a factory, in conditions so brutal that mistakes cost workers their lives. "We were called the armaments workers," Werber explains, "but really, we were slaves, half starving, beyond exhausted." Within a matter of months, Werber's brother was killed and her mother, grandparents and most of her aunts and uncles had been taken away. At 15, Werber fell in love with a Jewish police officer, Heniek, more than 10 years her senior, who got her a new job in a kitchen. The two married quickly in the hopes of escaping as part of a new German exchange with Argentina. Away from the ghetto when the first "exchange" happened, Werber learned that all of the German hopefuls had been shot. After witnessing many deaths, Werber survived many close calls, as well as time at Auschwitz. Liberated in 1945, Werber moved to Germany, where she met her second husband, Jack, to whom she was married until his death in 2006. Werber's story is wholly engrossing, written with exceptional immediacy and attention to detail. A deeply affecting addition to Holocaust literature.
Sound Commentary
“Yelena Shmulenson reads with a slight Polish accent and a young but strong voice, just as one might expect of Millie. She is able to express both the highs and the lows of Millie’s sweet, strong story very well.”
Sound Commentary
From the Publisher
“An exquisitely told story of love in the darkest of times. . . . Despite its sorrow, this memoir is full of deep delight in the human condition, in our ability to love in the midst of war and in the face of death.”
NPR

“Eve Keller’s impressive writing paired with Yelena Shmulenson’s gifted narration creates a moving presentation of Millie Werber’s memoir of love and survival amid the horrors of the Holocaust. . . . Shmulenson delivers the emotional impact of Millie’s tragedies and joys, and her successful use of accents adds further authenticity.”
AudioFile [Earphones Award winner]

Booklist
“A deeply affecting addition to Holocaust literature . . . wholly engrossing, written with exceptional immediacy and attention to detail.”
Kirkus Reviews
NPR
“Yelena Shmulenson reads with a slight Polish accent and a young but strong voice, just as one might expect of Millie. She is able to express both the highs and the lows of Millie’s sweet, strong story very well.”
Sound Commentary
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610391221
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,440,096
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Millie Werber is today the matriarch of a close and loving family. After moving to the United States in 1946, she and her husband Jack raised their two sons in Queens, NY., where together they built a real estate business. They lived happily together until Jack’s death in 2006. Millie now lives on Long Island surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Eve Keller is a professor and director of graduate studies at Fordham University. She is the author of Generating Bodies and Gendered Selves: The Rhetoric of Reproduction in Early Modern England, and is a past president of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    I'm a historian, although Latin America is my primary interest a

    I'm a historian, although Latin America is my primary interest as opposed to European history. But you don't get through college as a History major without knowing something about the Holocaust. The ads for this book sounded just a litte different from most of the Holocaust memoirs I have read so I bought it on a whim -- however, once I got going, I simply could not put it down. It is a superlative narrative for many reasons, but foremost because it simply rings of truth. Millie Werber is in her 80's now and some of the exact dates and times are blurred, as events of 60+ years ago would be for anyone, but the unmistakable truth in this book firmly establishes it in a class of its own. Millie tells her story of suffering and hope, love and loss of faith, and finally, ultimate triumph, without overdone emotion or excessive pathos. She just tells her story -- carefully and without embellishment. She is forthright about her loss of faith as well as her ability to find hope and redemption in the few simple kindnesses she receives from both Germans and Jews during her ordeal. She expresses her lack of understanding for why she is singled out for these gentle gestures in exactly the same way she expresses her inability to process the entire reasoning behind the cruelty of Nazis and Jews alike. I absolutely loved her almost casual remark that "the only intelligent thing I ever heard a rabbi say about the Holocaust is this: there is no answer; there is no answer to tragedy."

    Most poignantly, tho, Millie's is a love story -- the memory of a young girl's first great passion as well as the development of her most enduring and great love for the man who becomes her life's partner. Both are crucial to the woman she becomes and after decades of secrecy, she determines that her memories should endure beyond her life. Millie's story is remarkable but even more impressive is her telling of it, "lest it die with me". When I closed this book, I wished unconditionally that I could meet and know this incredible woman. I would suggest that whatever your area of interest, you not miss this book......

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Beautigul Beautiful tale ABC

    Beautifully written story of devition to the past present and future

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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