The Winter’s Journey is a lively memoir of a horrible experience. The abrupt transition from accomplished swimmer popular among her peers to an outlawed Jew forbidden to swim at the town pool, is quickly transitioned by a humorous alternative — a description of a swimming hole used by nudists, who cordially invite her to join them, even in a suit. To offset most of the offending actions, there are usually counterpoints of humor, and also the kindness of some people, especially the author’s boss in the slave labor camp where both she and her father worked. Through sheer moxie, Helen, a non-bookkeeper, served in that role to the civilian, German but non-Nazi Mr. Runge, who befriended her, taught her what to do, and warned her before round ups. The family of three, the father and his two daughters, were brave and resourceful and greatly aided by various people. Unlike most tales of a crowded hiding place, there are hilarious accounts of the various boarders. In fact, if Studley had married a Japanese boarder, he would have taken her to Switzerland, but she refused to leave her father and they could not get another visa. Studley was managing to pass as a gentile on the street until a gentile woman from the same camp, jealous of Runge’s attention to Studley, exposed her to the SS and she was jailed. What happened next, and how Studley saved herself among the jailed prostitutes is the best part of the book. Even in Auschwitz, although tattooed, at that late date, she did not have to cut her hair; and at liberation, the nurse who tended her during her bout with typhoid, could not believe she was a prostitute and soon made other arrangements for her. Can you imagine a Holocaust story that because of its lively portraits of the people with whom they shared various living places, is entertaining, as well as tragic? That is what Studley has accomplished. Sequences are not always clear, but it’s worth the effort to unravel them.
Additional books featured in this review:
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.