I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust

I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust

by Livia Bitton-Jackson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689823954
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 03/01/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 27,347
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to Auschwitz. They were liberated in 1945 and came to the United States on a refugee boat in 1951. She received a PhD in Hebrew culture and Jewish history from New York University. Dr. Bitton-Jackson has been a professor of history at City University of New York for thirty-seven years. Her previous books include Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, which received the Christopher Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and the Jewish Heritage Award. Dr. Bitton-Jackson lives in Israel with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

My Bridges of Hope and I Have Lived a Thousand Years
By Livia Bitton-Jackson

About the Books

“An exceptional story, exceptionally well told,” is how Publishers Weekly summed up I Have Lived a Thousand Years, Livia Bitton-Jackson’s memoir of coming of age in Nazi concentration camps. “A gripping story,” School Library Journal added. “A valuable addition to any Holocaust collection.” Winner of a Christopher Award and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, the book was followed by an equally acclaimed memoir of the author’s turbulent postwar years, My Bridges of Hope. Unforgettable first hand accounts of terrible times, these two books are also ringing tributes to the human spirit.

Discussion Topics

1. Why is the title I Have Lived a Thousand Years such an apt description of Elli’s young life?

2. “I don’t know if I am proud to be a Jew,” Elli admits early in I Have Lived a Thousand Years, when she is ordered by the Nazis to wear a six-pointed star on her clothing. “I had never thought about it.” How does her religious identification change and deepen as a result of her later experiences?

3. Discuss Elli’s evolving relationship with her mother. What was it like before the Nazis invaded Hungary? How did it change when they were in concentration camps? How did it change again after the war?

4. How did the Nazis try to strip Elli and her mother of their individuality? Did they succeed? Find examples of the large and small ways that concentration camp victims maintained their humanity.

5. What were Elli’s most cherished ambitions for herself? How did she hold on to her dreams when she was in the concentration camps? Why did she so quickly dismiss Andy’s marriage proposal in Vienna? How did she fulfill her goals in adulthood?

6. In My Bridges of Hope, Elli is considered too young to fight for Israel, but old enough to be appointed a school headmistress. She wonders, “Which required greater responsibility: wielding a book, or a gun? Which is a more effective device, or more lethal weapon: a gun, or education?” What are your answers to her questions?

7. Fleeing Czechoslovakia, Elli abandoned her colleagues in Briha, the underground movement. How did she do it? Why did she? Despite several opportunities to do so, why didn’t her colleagues expose her deceit?

8. In the forward to I Have Lived a Thousand Years, the author writes that she hopes her book will be: “A lesson to help future generations prevent the causes of the twentieth-century catastrophe from being transmitted into the twenty-first.” What lessons have you learned from Elli’s story? How can you put them into action?

Research and Projects

• Learn more about the causes and the consequences of World War II. How did Hitler come to power? Why did he hate Jews so savagely? When and why did America enter the war? What was the “cold war” that followed?

• Study the shifting map of Europe during the twentieth century. Elli’s hometown was part of Hungary during the war but part of Czechoslovakia afterwards. What other countries changed their boundaries? What countries have disappeared since the end of World War II? What new countries have emerged?

• Again and again, Elli and her family were uprooted, forced to pack their most precious belongings into small containers. Allow yourself just one suitcase. Place the objects the matter most to you into it.

• Invite an older member of your community to speak about their life during World War II. A veteran, a refugee from Europe, a working in a war-related industry, or anyone with strong memories of that extraordinary time can offer invaluable insights.

• Each book ends with a chronology of Elli’s experiences. With the help of your grandparents, or another old relative, create a personal chronology of your own family’s history from 1938 to 1951.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Customer Reviews

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I Have Lived a Thousand Years 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 224 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 12 years old. I may be young, but I am not too young to think this is the best book I've ever read. I'm not going to write one of those sappy reviews that says how much this book changed my life, but I will say that it is an amazing book! I had to read it for my 6th grade class and once I started reading, I just couldn't stop! I took the book everywhere with me because it pulls you in. The book talks about a young girl trying to keep up with her family. She has to deal with the death of relatives and possibly death for herself. She is too young to work, so the only thing left to do is o hide. I hope you read this book because it truley is great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. I haven't read such a moving story in a looong time. It was incredible how Elli managed to keep herself and her mom alive. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in 2 days. I love the authors writing style. If you like reading Holocaust survivor stories, I totally recommend this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i read this book last year and i fell in love with it. I feel everyon shiuld try to read this book, for it is so amazing. I really felt like i was right there with ellike. I felt like i had know her foever. Such a great book! Even for younger kids becaus i was 10 when i read the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow this book was amazing i couldn't leave the book alone longer for a minute. I recomend this book to people 12 years or older because there is some parts in this book that is not apporite for younger readers. I loved this soooo much but it was very sad. It it manily about a 13 year old girl growing up in the holocaust and it is about what had happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I read it 5 times. It gives you a really good look at the Halocaust because it is a true story about the author. I learned so much just from this one book than any other book i've read about the halocaust!! Also at the end it gives you a timeline of the events in the book and definitions of any words in the book you may not know. If you like Anne Frank then you should read this book for sure! Probabley best halocaust book ive ever read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW! I am in the process of reading this book and wow is all i can say!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have one word for this book, AMAZING. I just could not put it down. My Language Arts teacher had to literally ask me to put it down andpay attention to the lesson! It is a truly touching story and now im reading the second book. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. It has helped me understand what these people went through. I have also had the priviledge to being a student of Livia Bitton Jackson. She is an amazing woman who never lost her sense of life, humor, and kindness in spite of what she endured. She is an inspiration, and lesson that nothing is impossible. She truly is remarkable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most heroic stories of perseverance and the belief that no matter how ugly humanity can be, there are amazing people in the word. Elli is one of those incredible, brave survivors of the Holocaust. I use this book in my 8th grade classes and it creates deep discussion of human nature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It scary and sad how horrible thejews were treated they are really no different than people like you andme.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for english and i thought it was gunna be boring but i was totally wrong!!!!!!!! Best bookever!!
Phillip More than 1 year ago
This book is a great book if you like a fiction novel that will touch your heart. It takes place in Europe and the protagonist is Elli, a 14 year old Jewish girl. Who lives with her family and loves to go to school. Her father owns a small pawn shop and that is there only income. When her brother Bubi comes home, unexpected, and tells everyone that Budapest was invaided by the Germans, his father says it was a false alarm. The next day Bubi goes back to Budapest and later that day the rest of the family hears on the radio that it was not a false alarm. To find what happens next, get reading! P.C.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I don't even know where to start. The book was phenomenal. It made me cry to hear the atrocities that happened in this world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I had to read this book for part of my research project on the Holocaust. While reading this book, I have come across to many emotions. Some of them being sadness, happiness, devastation, etc. I enjoyed the funny parts yet I would shed tears later on in the book. Elli’s story made me realize that no matter what age you are, you can go through so much in such little time. For all the books Iv’e read in my 16 years of living, I have never come across such a heartbreaking coming-of-age story. Besides the story of Elli, the book was very informative and taught me who did what to who. By this I mean that I learned that the SS German Soldiers were involved and not just the Nazis. Another thing that really stood out to me was how the story was written. It felt as if I was there right next to Elli because of how well the setting and her thoughts were described. I would definitely recommend this to a teenage girl because if though they may not like the Holocaust, this book has a story of Elli, a teenager who didn’t give up a fight, who was optimistic, and most of all, who was loving to the people around her.
myrialadel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Of all the Holocaust books I have read, this one I found the most intrigueing, as it was a 1st person narrative that fully conveyed the misery and emotional despair of this time period.
Euphoria13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm in tears... Such a heartbreaking and remarkable story of survival.
KathrynAtwood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What sets Bitton-Jackson's Holocaust memoir apart from the others is that it is simultaneously poetic and graphic. Also, the entire book is written in the first-person which gives it a startling immediacy. It has garnered hundreds of deservedly glowing reviews, both here and on Amazon, so I won't take the trouble of summarizing it but the following sections hit me upside the head: Her short-lived joyful ethnic pride that she discovered in the Jewish ghetto: "For the first time in my life, I am happy to be a Jew . . . The cock-feathered policement who had trampled on our sofas and our self-esteem, the Gentile neighbors who were afraid to say good-bye, the Jancsi Novaks, the kind, gentle friends who have not attempted to send a note of synpathy, the peasant wagon drivers who dutifully accepted wages from us for delivering us to the enemy . . . they all are on the other side of the fence. A tall fence separates us. A world separates us because they do not understand. "But we, on this side of the fence, we understand. We put up sheets around bathtubs in the yard in order to take baths. We cook on open stoves, We stand in long lines for the toilet. No friendship or love binds as this deep, spontaneous, easy mutuality." The graphic description of concentration camp food, clearer than any I've read elsewhere: "I snatch the bread from Mommy's hand (she had refused to eat it) and begin to eat. The dry, mudlike lump turns into wet sand particles in my mouth. . . "When the bowl of food is handed to me, I am unable to take a gulp. It is a dark green, thick mass in a battered washbowl crusted with dirt. No spoons. You tilt the bowl until the mass slides to the edge, then gulp. The dark mush smells and looks repulsive. The edge of the bowl is rusty and cracked and uneven with dried-on smut. My nausea returns in a flash." And to add fodder to the eternal question of how much did war-time Germans outside the SS really know about the concentration camps, there is an interesting chapter titled "This Must be Heaven" in which some clearly astonished Wehrmacht officials running a Luftwaffe factory who have requested female laborers from Auschwitz don't recognize the arriving inmates as women, ask them where their luggage is (which causes much laughter among the inmates), and ask for their actual names. When one officer tells Bitton-Jackson's partially paralyzed mother not to worry, that "here you will get better. We will take good care of you" the daughter's response is "I am surely dreaming." A stunning Holocaust memoir, simultaneously poetic and graphic.
amusingmother on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really difficult book to read because of content, although not as graphic as some. Reminiscent of Eli Wiesel's "Night" except daughter steps into parenting role and miraculously, mother, daughter and son end their concentration camp horror on the same train, in the same car and alive, although barely.Amazing story of courage and the strength of the soul.
van_stef on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very good book about growing up in the Holocaust. Very good for young readers.
SmithSJ01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿ve read my fair share of Holocaust memoirs but this is the one I will recommend to everyone. I was blown away by Elli Friedmann¿s account of her unbelievable start to teenage life. She was only 13 when the Nazis invaded Hungary. The book is vivid and descriptive. There were one or two points where I actually had to close the book for a moment just to reflect on the suffering experienced.The memoir is a book unlike any I have ever read and will stay with me for life. I would go as far to say it would be in my top twenty books of all time. It is amazing that she lived to tell her tale and in fact it is quite unreal how many times she escapes immediate death. Her courage and determination is admirable and I felt humbled to be able to read such a devastating account of Occupation, Auschwitz and beyond.
DubaiReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Supremely moving. This short but powerful book was supremely moving. I had doubts about the subject matter, whether it would be too horrific for me to continue, but the author maintained the perfect balance. I was left overawed that humans could treat each other so badly, yet humbled by the way Ellie managed to keep herself and her ailing mother alive against all the odds. Their story began with the German invasion of Budapest in 1944. Their business had already been confiscated and they were regularly harassed by the Hungarian authorities. Next, their valuables were taken and they had to wear an identifying yellow star which was also painted on the wall of their house. Finally, they were evicted to the ghetto at Nagymagyar, hundreds, cramped into tiny spaces with only the food they had brought with them, enclosed by guarded fencing. Ellie's beloved father was taken to a labour camp and the rest of the family was subsequently moved out to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. All children and the elderly were gassed, while women from 16 to 45 were sent to do hard labour. Ellie was advised to lie about being 14 and her blonde hair helped too. There follows a painful introduction into the gruelling life of the camp, food is scarce and standing in the cold awaiting roll call could take several hours. I was not aware that inmates moved about from camp to camp so much, but Ellie and her mother underwent a number of long journeys in train wagons, with no food or water for days, as they were shunted around between camps. This is an awe inspiring account of survival that I am so glad to have had the opportunity to read. I highly recommend this book to young adults and adults alike.
AngelaG86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author tells the story of how she survived the concentration camps. Excellent book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's so much to say about this book, and especially, the writer herself. Though the story is heartbreaking, the fact that she survived to tell the tale of her nightmarish survival of the Holocaust gives the world hope. And, that the world can never allow this kind of inhumanity to ever happen again. It makes me so sad and so mad that anyone can hate others so much just because their religious beliefs differ. RESIST!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I throughly enjoyed this book. It is a fast read and I highly recommend it. I can't even imagine wgat Elli and her famiky went through and survived.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I had to read this book for part of my research project. This book was interesting, beautiful, sad, and most of all, hopeful. I could not put this book down. The events that took place kept me on the edge of my seat. The history and background was intriguing to read and never left me bored. The book also gave a sense of beauty because of Elli's heart. The love for her mother, brother, and her father, was beautiful. The book did have sadness but that didn't stop me from reading it. It kept me continuing to read it because of the events that where happening in the book. Lastly, this book was hopeful. The reason liked this book so much is because of Elli's hope throughout the book. Because of all the hardships she goes through, she still keeps her hope. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the Holocaust. Its a really good read.