The Girl Who Sur­vived Auschwitz

  • Review
By – December 6, 2023

In The Girl Who Sur­vived Auschwitz, Sara Lei­bovits describes her expe­ri­ences — on the train, in the con­cen­tra­tion camp, in the fields, and on her trip home — in sear­ing detail and with shock­ing imme­di­a­cy. Despite the hor­rors sur­round­ing her, and the dev­as­ta­tion she expe­ri­enced, she was able to main­tain her human­i­ty — the direct result of grow­ing up in a lov­ing home. 

It is impos­si­ble to read a book about the Holo­caust and not con­front the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted each day in the camps. Yet Lei­bovits doesn’t dwell on those details. Instead, she focus­es on her mem­o­ries of sur­vival and friend­ship. She talks about the girls from her town and how they helped each oth­er in the camps in what­ev­er ways they could. An extra morsel of moldy bread or a cou­ple of spoon­fuls of soup could be life­sav­ing. She also dis­cuss­es her mar­ried life in Israel.

Leibovits’s moth­er and sib­lings were mur­dered short­ly after they entered Auschwitz. Her father, and sev­er­al of her friends’ fathers, sur­vived for a while as Son­derkom­man­dos, who would move the bod­ies from the gas cham­bers to the cre­ma­to­ria. This grue­some respon­si­bil­i­ty enabled the men to find morsels of food, or items that could be trad­ed for food, in the pock­ets of those who’d been killed. They man­aged to pass these items on to their daugh­ters to help them sur­vive — until one day, they stopped. Son­derkom­man­dos were nev­er in their posi­tions for longer than a few months. 

Lei­bovits has writ­ten this sto­ry togeth­er with her daugh­ter, Eti Elboim. As such, the book includes not only Leibovits’s first­hand mem­o­ries of the Holo­caust, but also Elboim’s per­spec­tive on how her mother’s expe­ri­ence affect­ed her as a mem­ber of the sec­ond generation. 

This sto­ry is a must-read. It reminds us that, in the face of human tragedy and evil, it is pos­si­ble to main­tain our dignity.

Mar­i­an Stoltz-Loike, Ph.D. is author, speak­er and aca­d­e­mi­cian. She is the author of Dual Career Cou­ples: New Per­spec­tives in Coun­sel­ing and Cross-Cul­tur­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

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