Sala’s Gift: My Moth­er’s Holo­caust Story

  • Review
By – October 26, 2011

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.

Arlene B. Soifer earned degrees in Eng­lish, and has had many years of expe­ri­ence as a free­lance writer, edi­tor, and pub­lic rela­tions professional.

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