A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy

A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy


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A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy by Thomas Buergenthal

The profoundly moving memoir of a young boy's odyssey through the Holocaust.

In a new edition of his bestselling memoir, Thomas Buergenthal tells of his astonishing experiences as a young boy. Buergenthal arrived at Auschwitz at age 10 after surviving two ghettos and one work camp. Separated from his mother and then his father, he managed by his wits and some remarkable strokes of luck to survive on his own. Almost two years after his liberation, Buergenthal was miraculously reunited with his mother and in 1951 arrived in the U.S. to start a new life.

Since the initial publication of this book, new documents have been made available, allowing Buergenthal to finally learn the details of his mother's search for him and the truth about his father. With a new afterword by the author sharing these revelations, A LUCKY CHILD is a classic that demands to be read by all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316339186
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 138,298
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 1150L (what's this?)

About the Author

Considered one of the world's leading international human rights law experts, Thomas Buergenthal served as a judge at the International Court of Justice and prior thereto as judge and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He is the Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law & Jurisprudence at the George Washington University Law School, and the recipient of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's 2015 Elie Wiesel Award.

Read an Excerpt

One day my mother came home in a very excited state. She told my father that she and a girlfriend had gone to a famous fortune-teller. Before going in, Mutti had taken off her wedding ring, and because she looked much younger than her age, she was very surprised when the fortune-teller, after studying her cards, proclaimed that my mother was married and had one child. In addition to knowing a great deal about our family background, the fortune-teller told my mother that her son was "ein Glückskind" - a lucky child - and that he would emerge unscathed from the future that awaited us.

-from the book

Table of Contents

Foreword Elie Wiesel xi

Preface xv

Chapter 1 From Lubochna to Poland 3

Chapter 2 Katowice 26

Chapter 3 The Ghetto of Kielce 38

Chapter 4 Auschwitz 64

Chapter 5 The Auschwitz Death Transport 87

Chapter 6 Liberation 98

Chapter 7 Into the Polish Army 115

Chapter 8 Waiting to Be Found 131

Chapter 9 A New Beginning 150

Chapter 10 Life in Germany 161

Chapter 11 To America 193

Epilogue 207

Acknowledgments 227

Reading Group Guide 231

What People are Saying About This

Cynthia Ozick

"In the plainest words and the steadiest tones (as an intimate would speak deadly truth in the dead of night), Thomas Buergenthal delivers to us the child he once was: an unblemished little boy made human prey by Europe's indelible twentieth-century barbarism, a criminality that will never leave off its telling. History and memory fail to ebb; rather, they accelerate and proliferate, and Buergenthal's voice is now more thunderous than ever. Pledged to universal human rights, he has turned a life of gratuitous deliverance into a work of visionary compassion."--(Cynthia Ozick, author of Heir to the Glimmering World)

Kate Braestrup

"The unsentimental tone of Buergenthal's writing magnifies his deliberate decision not to make melodrama out of a story that is plenty dramatic enough. Like Primo Levi and Anne Frank, Buergenthal can only tell the story of one life, but through that life we are led to consider and honor all the lives of those who weren't so lucky."--(Kate Braestrup, author of Here If You Need Me)

Elizabeth McCracken

"A Lucky Child is an extraordinary story, simply and beautifully told. Heartbreaking and thrilling, it examines what it means to be human, in every good and awful sense. Perhaps most amazingly of all, Thomas Buergenthal remembers and renders the small mysteries and grand passions of childhood, even a childhood lived under the most horrific circumstances."--(Elizabeth McCracken, author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination)

Customer Reviews

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Lucky Child 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 89 reviews.
TheBookInn More than 1 year ago
Thomas Beurgenthal- born May 11, 1934 in Lubochna Czechoslovaka. His parents Mudek & Gerda Beurgenthal . Thomas and his family living in Lubochna are made to pack up and move out of their hotel, ending up in a small apartment in Zilina. Thomas's father found a job as a traveling salesman so that left Thomas and his mother home alone. One day the police came to the door and ordered them to pack their belongings. They were told that the Jews were being expelled from the country. Thomas's mother demanded to talk to the chief of police and told him that they were Germans, showing him her passport, which was a Germans drivers license. The chief ordered the police to escort them home. Deciding it was to dangerous to continue to live there, they decided to move to Poland. One day his mother came home very excited. She had visited a fortune teller who told her about her family and that her son was "ein Gluckskind" - A Lucky Child . But on their lucky day Hitler invades Poland and this is the start of Thomas's remarkable struggle to survival story begins. When reading his story, my stomach was in knots . I have a hard time reading about the Holocaust, such a horrendous crime. Thomas does a wonderful job , detailing his time in the camps, how he was able to survive day to day . I wanted to cry and hug him and make his hurt go away. It was a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. If you want to learn a little more about the holocaust from someone's personal experience read this -
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
When reading A LUCKY CHILD, I thought about the film LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, both seen through the eyes of a young boy. This memoir about Thomas Buergenthal's life in concentration camps during the Holocaust is truly unforgettable. How this young child survives through the horrors of such an ordeal is beyond me? He truly was a lucky child and to write it down for generations to read, we have become the lucky ones. This book details the losses he experienced, the travels through various 'work' camps, the liberation by the Russian army and the search for his parents afterward. His story is a remarkable one and to learn that he has devoted his adult life to international and human rights law shows what an amazing person he has become. This is a must read.
belizeme More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed Mr. Buergenthal's book. While I had never read any books about concentration camps and the human suffering and injustices found therein, I was certain that this book would be excellent having reviewed it online before purchasing. The author's style of writing was easy to follow and my interest was piqued immediately. I found tears in my eyes as he described some of his experiences but also enjoyed the lightheartedness found in one experience in the infirmary. Having read this book, I have found a new interest in learning more about individual accounts of time spent in concentration camps during World War II. Thank you, Mr. Buergenthal, for sharing your experience with the world and also for the very important work you currently do to address human rights.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome,inspiring read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since I'm a 2nd world war child myself it brought back lots of memories, It is a long time ago but the fear and hunger memories you live through will never go away. The book is excellently written: not over dramatic but well expressed and believable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a market for books and memoirs about the holocaust; and this one was very well written. I personally am re-building my library of books and memoirs about the holocaust now that l own a nook. I wish Odd Nansen's books were available, l would have liked to read them as well.
Katiebug33 More than 1 year ago
Very good book. Hard to believe a child and his mother survived those horrible death camps.
ReneeSuz More than 1 year ago
Some books are remarkable and moving; this is one of them. Buergenthal recalls his boyhood under Hitler; from Jewish ghetto to work camp to Auschwitz. His story is one that never should have been written since odds were against him being a young Jewish boy. How did a young boy of eight years survive a work camp, how did that same boy at 10 years old live through Auschwitz.... even after reading Buergenthal's memoir it's unfathomable but truth is stranger than fiction. The memoir continues through liberation by Soviet soldiers, time spent as 'mascot' to the Polish Army, a Jewish orphanage, reuniting with his mother at 12 1/2 years old and finally emigrating to America. Buergenthals' book is more than just a memoir; it's also a book about learning to let go of hatred. He writes "we were forced to confront these emotions in a way that helped Mutti and me gradually overcome our hatred and desire for revenge. ... I doubt that we would have been able to preserve our sanity had we remained consumed by hatred for the rest of our lives.... while it was important not to forget what happened to us in the Holocaust, it was equally important not to hold the descendants of the perpetrators responsible for what was done to us, lest the cycle of hate and violence never end." Thomas Buergenthal survived the Holocaust and has devoted his life to international and human rights law. He is currently the American judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so much better than "Night" by Elie Weisel. More detailed and the pictures, letters and trail of evidence to what the Author writes about is fascinating !
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hmgoody More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully-written and touching personal story of a Holocaust survivor with unique insights. Gripping as well;I read the entire book in one day. Not one word of self-pity or melodrama. Excellent in every facet!
TRS1 More than 1 year ago
Great story that needed to be told. Excellent read. Highly recommend.
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Yehudit More than 1 year ago
His story filled me such hope and awe at his over coming the hate he witnessed. I admire him very much and wish him many more days of health and healing and continued teaching of others.
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I picked up my grandson's school library book and was immediately fascinated by this true story. A great addition to WWII bigraphies, especially for boys.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was well written and did a great job allowing the reader to walk with him as a child as a survivor. Good book. God bless and i will never forget.
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