Clara’s War: One Girl’s Sto­ry of Survival

Clara Kramer and Stephen Glantz
  • Review
By – December 2, 2011
Clara’s War is the mem­oir of eighty-oneyear- old Clara Kramer, as it was told to the screen­writer Stephen Glantz. In writ­ing it, Glantz also used Clara’s diary, which she wrote between the win­ter of 1942 and the sum­mer of 1944, when her fam­i­ly was hid­ing from the Nazis in Zolkiew, Gali­cia. Clara starts her sto­ry with her mem­o­ries from 1939, and each chap­ter about the hid­ing peri­od begins with a few short lines from her diary.

Eleven peo­ple from three dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies went into hid­ing in a bunker three square meters by a meter and a third high, locat­ed under the house of the Kramer family’s Pol­ish house­keep­er, and her alco­holic hus­band. 

The rich­ly detailed sto­ry involves com­pli­cat­ed rela­tion­ships, a dan­ger­ous love affair, sus­pi­cious Ger­mans, and tense peri­ods in which SS offi­cers and Ger­man sol­diers resided in the house, until lib­er­a­tion by the Red Army. By that time there were eigh­teen peo­ple liv­ing in dete­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions in the under­ground bunker. 

The book is well writ­ten; how­ev­er, includ­ing Clara’s actu­al diary would have made it a most valu­able resource for research into auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal Holo­caust texts. Charts, prologue.
Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions