Thursday, June 15, 2017

Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope

By Wendy Holden
HarperCollins, 2015. 385 pgs. Nonfiction

Separated from their husbands, three young mothers imprisoned by the Nazis in the fall of 1944 manage to conceal their pregnancies from Nazi doctor Josef Mengele when they arrive at Auschwitz. Young and still healthy the women are sent to work in harsh conditions at a labor camp in Freiburg. Unknown to each other they continue to hide their pregnancies even as they are nearly starved to death. As the Germans fall back and the Allies approach, one gives birth in the factory clinic to a tiny baby just before they are all loaded onto trains to be transported to Mauthausen. Two more babies born on that treacherous journey also survive to be liberated by American troops.

The author relates the early lives of these three women, their marriages, and their lives after liberation.  For those not as familiar with the Holocaust, the author also gives background information about Nazi policies and the conditions in the countries they occupied as Jews are placed in ghettos and concentrations camps. Unknown to each other while in the camps, after the war the three women raised strong children. Bonded by their incredible births and their strong mothers, the three children finally meet  to celebrate their survival. This story deserves to be told and the author’s writing is excellent.  Be warned, however, that there are graphic descriptions of life in the camps and the inhuman treatment prisoners received.


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