This collection of stories written by Greenfield over a period of years, and collected from various publications, is divided into three sections: “A World Disintegrates,” “Pieces of the Shattered Puzzle,” and “The Need To Remember.” Greenfield, who lives in Israel, was born in Kolin, Czechoslovkia, from where she was deported first to Terezin, then to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, and finally to a slave labor camp in Germany from which she was liberated. As memories struck her over the years, she wrote about them. The brief vignettes that precede the Bialystock episode are so poignant — the parting from friends: “Alice,” a friend known only because their normal world had fallen apart, and Vera in “Saying Goodbye” whose letter reflects her intuition that they will never meet again; and “Pen Pals,” when Michael, a first love whose arrival in Terezin she waits for anxiously, only to find soon after his family arrives, he will die from a burst appendix; and her friend, the fragile Esti, for whom she finds extra food in Terezin, but who dies in Auschwitz. Greenfield’s description of Auschwitz as “The Gate to Hell” in unforgettable as is her story of her last day in Bergen-Belsen when, on the day her group is destined for the gas, she wants to be loved before saying goodbye and climbs up to a top shelf where five men are sleeping and makes love with the young doctor who was kind to her when she first arrived. The most heartbreaking is the story of the 1,196 children from the Bialystock ghetto who were being nursed back to health in the Terezin ghetto, since they were going to be sent to Palestine in trade for German prisoners. They are accompanied by the camp’s doctors and nurses, including the author’s own mother, for the trip — except that the mufti of Jerusalem told Hitler he didn’t want them growing up to populate Palestine, and Himmler had them all gassed. Greenfield has the talent to catch the affecting, telling and heart-breaking moments in each of her true stories. This previously published but now revised, slender paperback (most stories are only 2 1/2 pages) is one of the most significant books on the Holocaust I have read. Illustrated with drawings from Terezin and photographs. For mature teens and adults.
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.