As the Nazi archives dealing with the concentration camps and labor camps will be unsealed within months, this book’s timeliness adds to its intrinsic value. Sala is the author’s mother; her unique, stirring end-of-life gift are the letters and photos she received from her sister Raizel when Sala was a slave laborer. Research by Kirschner more than adequately supplies dense details of the progress of the war, the location of factories, and Sala’s daily life in that context.
At age 14, Sala spunkily pushed her older, frailer sister aside, and became her surrogate, to be taken into the local Polish factory system.
Incredibly, Sala both hid and smuggled Raizel’s letters. Also incredibly, Raizel could send the letters and receive Sala’s replies. Both starved equally until the war was over. The author’s unflinching narrative covers the apparently seamless installation and systematizing of slave labor, its growth, and its continuous importance to the Nazis to the end. Her Jewish kapo was known to Sala; a local figure, he ran the factory and the lives of the mostly young female hostages.
A touching, interesting and valuable history, one in which the personalities of the principals shine through the wretchedness. Illustrations, facsimiles, endnotes.