Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz

Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz

by Rena Kornreich Gelissen, Heather Dune Macadam
4.7 35
Pub. Date:
Beacon Press
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Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz

An expanded edition of the powerful memoir about two sisters' determination to survive during the Holocaust featuring new and never before revealed information about the first transport of women to Auschwitz

In March 1942, Rena Kornreich and 997 other young women were rounded up and forced onto the first Jewish transport of women to Auschwitz. Soon after, Rena was reunited with her sister Danka at the camp, beginning a story of love and courage that would last three years and forty-one days. From smuggling bread for their friends to narrowly escaping the ever-present threats that loomed at every turn, the compelling events in Rena’s Promise remind us that humanity and hope can survive inordinate brutality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807070710
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 10/28/1996
Edition description: None
Pages: 271
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.85(d)

Table of Contents


Preface to the Expanded Edition xi
Prologue xix
Chapter One Rena 1
Chapter Two Tylicz 8
Chapter Three Slovakia 32
Chapter Four Auschwitz 53
Chapter Five Birkenau (Auschwitz II) 91
Chapter Six Stabsgebaude (Staff quarters) 183
Chapter Seven Neustadt Glewe 234
Epilogue 244
Acknowledgements 256
Bibliography 259
Study Guide 261

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Rena's Promise 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Meg0 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. I have read many books from Holocaust survivors, but never one from a FEMALE survivor. This book was powerfully heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I also enjoyed the "closure" given o the readers t the end where it shares updates and further information about the major players in this story (good and evil). Rena's Promise is a true treasure and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in reading a true survivor's story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rena¿s Promise is an excellent story that brings the reader back to the Nazi concentration camps to witness the atrocities prisoners faced. Rena¿s Promise is an inspiring account urging the reader to keep his faith in life. It is not a regular book on the Holocaust it is an inside story on the Nazi camps. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing more about the Holocaust or just simply wants to read an exceptional book like no other. Rena¿s Promise will change the reader¿s views on the Holocaust because its content reveals information about the camps that is not taught in many schools. The book is factual, even though it is very emotional, and agrees with historical records. In a scale of 1 through 10, Rena¿s Promise deserves a 10.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For those fans of Rena, who have not heard, she passed away on August 8, 2006. Among those sending condolences, The Museum of Women at Auscwitz, Poland, wrote, 'Our historians still feel this is one of the most historically accurate and important book on Auschwitz ever written.' Over the years your reviews have meant much to her and we continue to monitor the voices of our readers. Sadly, it is up to you now to carry her voice and her story to the world. You can learn more about Rena's Promise, where a study guide is available for teachers and book clubs at our website
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was awesome. I may only be 14, but this book just showed amazing courage, outstanding hope, and powerful will.Rena and Danka had the most powerful sisterly love that showed through the whole novel. If either of them would have died, I would have been mad because of the amazing people they are and what futures they had ahead of them. I just wish more of the Holocaust victims were that lucky.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the best and detailed description of what life was really like in the camps. I literally could not put this book down when I started reading it. I really felt for Rena and Danka, there was such a true sisterly love here and determination for survival.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes u cry grasp ur attetion from the vary also is great for students in gives u a history lesson everyone can get in touch it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't go into too much detail about the story since it has been about 4 years since I read it. It just popped in my head and was looking online to where I could buy it and read it again! It was truly amazing and I will remember it forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
im 12 yrs old and really interested in the holocaust. when i read this book it was really inspiring to me. rena shows that she will do anything so her and her sister can survive. it really touched me the way rena thought of little ways to survive! also i could NOT put this book down..i have read it 6 TIMES IN A ROW!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this story down. Rena and the other prisoners courage was amazing. I was astonished that people (the Nazis) could be so in-human. The story is wonderfully written and very graphic, descpibing every event that happened to Rena.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with Jessica. I could not put this book down from the secod I opened it. If you want a very detailed account of what Aushwitz was really like, this is it. What an amazing story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 4 days, I could not put it down!!! I was intrigued by Rena and Danka's strength, and courage!!! I can't explain how much I loved to read this novel, even though it was about a horrible event. Rena, Danka, and all the other young women and men were unbelievable, I don't know how they did it. I was in awe, I was depressed, but I was proud of Rena for her strength to survive and her responsibility of her sister.
WiseBearBooks More than 1 year ago
Wise Bear Books Reviews Rena's Promise by Rena’s Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam -- 5 Paws! Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz, co-authored by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam, is a life-changing story not just for the women who lived to share the horrors of their experience, but for anyone who reads this personal account of the most heinous genocide of the 20th century.  Many books have been written about the holocaust, Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps, and each story has its own personal perspective of the inhumanities European Jews were forced to endure during World War II.  What make's Rena's story unique is she was one of the first admitted into Auschwitz's gates during the initial gatherings of Jews.   In fact, as number 716 she was on the first transport, yet managed to live to tell her story, albeit much later in life. The process of creating Rena's story is an interesting side note as well.  Rena and writer Heather Dune Macadam's collaboration came about as a chance meeting.  A friend-of-a-friend type referral is the basis for their first introduction.  Macadam does a superb job of painting their tentative encounter.  There is an easy conversational style to the author's writing that some might feel crosses literary lines, but we found this approach created an authentic observational technique as if we as readers are sitting in the room personally involved in their discussion. There's a profound emotion in this book and not just because of its sensitive subject matter.  There is a depth of connection between the writing partners, the Kornriech sisters, and many of the women who have the shared experience of bearing the burden of their memories. Rena's Promise begins with a good background story about Rena and her family's happy life prior to Rena's decision to comply with the Nazi's edict for Jews to surrender themselves to the nearest occupation camp for labor.  Her preemptive move was at first shocking, but makes sense as we come to understand that the Nazis’ atrocities were closely guarded secrets initially.  Rumors circulated, but little to no proof existed till much later in the war.  There's a lot you'll learn about the Holocaust by reading Rena's Promise that isn't taught in school or written in history books. There is a redundant quality to the author's storytelling, but this isn't a criticism.  The daily 4:00 a.m. wake up call of “Raus!  Raus!” meaning “Go!  Go!” was the only means of separating the drudgery of one day to the next.  It's an unconventional yet effective section break in the story telling which also helps to keep the story moving for readers.  By the end of the book it feels like a victorious battle cry, especially as momentum in the war shifts and the Jewish prisoners dare to hope for freedom from their captors. The defining quality of Rena, her sister Danka, and all these women who survived is courage.  Despite the constant traumas and heartbreak, Rena and Danka will each other to survive; the fact that they endure feels triumphant to us as readers, although it's not likely Rena would describe her and her sister's ultimate liberation from hell in such lofty terms.  You see, the scars of their experiences can never be erased—hence the decision to partner with Macadam in the cathartic telling of her personal first-hand knowledge. The joint authors don't hold back.  These are not easy remembrances to relate or to read, and yet they are essential to the collective consciousness of the human race.  Readers have a tremendous opportunity to learn, remember, and share books of such import. It's hard to imagine an all-knowing, loving God exists while reading Rena's Promise as we see Rena struggle with her faith, but it's also equally hard to believe that Rena and Danka could have survived such base depravity without some divine intervention.  Applying a label to an unknown deity isn't relevant to a book like Rena's Promise, but there is clearly something transcendent, even magical in the story of these two sisters. Rena's Promise is a well-written, thoughtful story that flows well and is a surprisingly fast read considering the intensity of the subject matter.  How Rena managed to maintain any level of gratitude or compassion for her tormentors' physical, mental, and emotional abuse is miraculous.  Probably the greatest teaching of her story is that it embodies a quintessential teaching of forgiveness, which is that it's not so much an act as an attitude. This book was reviewed as part of the Wise Bear Digital Book Awards competition. Entry fees associated with the contest are administrative in nature and do not influence our honest, unbiased book reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a quick read, for me, but will stay with me for a long time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book i have ever read in my life
patranella2 More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of stories of Jewish survival during the holocaust. Some, like this read quick because the are well written and you find it hard to put down. EVERY story of holocaust survival - no matter the person's story is important and engrossing. Unfortunately, not all are written as well as this one. I found this amazing story of how two sisters survived Auschwitz-Birkenau from the very beginning (and yet were very slow to believe the gas chambers existed) very touching. I sometimes doubt I would love one of my sisters as much as Rena and Danka did. Because certainly one without the other would have meant death for both.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rena and her sister, Danka, were Jews from Poland during World War II. They lived in a small town where religion did not separate people. Soon however, their lives began to change as the war approached. Jews were no longer allowed to cross the border into Slovokia or trade with Gentiles (non Jews). They were forced to work for German soldiers for little or no pay. Next, their religious books were burned and valuables taken from them. Rena was sent to live with her uncle in Slovakia however she soon returned to her family where they were forced to move far away from the border. As things began to worsen Rena and Danka were sent to Slovakia where they were separated. Their parents sent them away because Jews in Slovakia were treated better than they were in Poland. When the Germans demanded all Jews turn themselves in Rena did so. She was taken by the first train to Auschwitz. Here, she was stripped of her clothes and possessions and had all her hair shaved off. Rena was now knows as 1716. Soon, her sister Danka arrived. When Rena was a child she had promised her mother that she would always take care of Danka, a promise she intended to keep. The “camp workers” were placed into work groups monitored by SS officers and German prisoners. The SS officers had permission to kill anyone for no reason at all. Many people in these camps died of starvation or illness. They were given nothing but wood shoes and thin clothing to wear working outdoors, all year. The blocks (housing units) were infested with lice and disease. The sisters were moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where conditions were worse. They were forced to work year round no matter what the weather was like. To keep the camp from becoming overcrowded they held “selections” where many people were sent to the gas chambers. While in the camps Rena and Danka came across many of their friends and family. After surviving three years and forty one days in the camp (for Rena) and the Death March, Rena and Danka were freed. One of the main messages in this book was not to take little things for granted. For example the women were excited when they each received a blanket and had running water. Another message was not to give up your faith or simply give up because something is unfair and hard. There is always a way to find hope in a situation. I thoroughly liked the detail in this book along with the plain truth. Nothing was exaggerated, everything was very matter-of-fact. I disliked however the repetition of daily life within the book. Someone should read this book if they are interested in a young women’s point of view during the Holocaust. I would suggest this book because it gives insight into one of the most horrifying times in history. Another book I would recommend would be The Diary of Anne Frank. Overall I would highly rank and recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivating. A true page turner, keeps you wanting more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KatieB99 More than 1 year ago
This book is a personal insight into living in Auschwitz Concentration camps from the eyes of a 20-23 yr old. It is emotionally difficult to read, as well any book of this genre should be, but well written and easily finished in a day or two of long stretches......and it grips the reader tightly so that long sessions of reading are not even noticed. The fear, the horror, the numbness, the lapses in faith, utter despair, underlying hope, irony of laughter in such an incomprehensible situation are all made totally comprehensible. The author is heroically courageous to bring these memories back to the surface and write about them so vividly and candidly. The will to live, strength of character, and the caring and generosity she displayed under a horrific and terrifying part of her life is astounding. If you thirst to understand how there were survivors of the camps, how they stayed alive, the range of emotion they were forced to endure, this is a book you would not want to miss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Completely understandable & realistic Rena was one tough gal, I don't think most people realize what the Jewish people went through. I loved & hated this book, but everyone should read it, especially generations that are not familiar with the Hitler/Nazi actions, but only the Pearl Harbor/Japan story. Hitler's Holocaust cannot happen again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellently written account of the total inhumanity of Nazi Germany. The best part is that the author and her sister survived and did not allow their treatment to turn them into bitter, hateful people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't understand how anyone can publish something where the first person (I, me) shifts to third (she, her) in the middle of a sentence. It is very confusing. I think the co-writer couldn't make up her mind which parts to tell through Rena's eyes and which to tell from the outside and then, when she decided, she edited inconsistently. Guess there was no copyeditor either.
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