Two Rings: A Sto­ry of Love and War

Mil­lie Wer­ber and Eve Keller
  • Review
By – April 27, 2012

Two Rings is a haunt­ing book about the hor­rors of war and the sig­nif­i­cance of mem­o­ry and tes­ti­mo­ny. Dur­ing the Holo­caust, Mil­lie Wer­ber, who was born in Radom, Poland, was con­fined to the ghet­to in Radom with her fam­i­ly and lat­er worked in a fac­to­ry where she met Heniek Greenspan, a Jew­ish police­man, and became his wife. Not long after their mar­riage, Heniek was betrayed and tak­en away by the Sicher­heits­di­enst and Mil­lie was nev­er able to find out how he died. Lat­er, Mil­lie was sent to Auschwitz and then to work in a fac­to­ry in Ger­many. The hor­rif­ic con­di­tions that she expe­ri­enced in all of these places are described in explic­it detail in Two Rings. Jux­ta­posed with the ten­der descrip­tions of Millie’s rela­tion­ship with Heniek and her sec­ond hus­band Jack, they draw atten­tion to the immense inhu­man­i­ty and cru­el­ty of war. Notably, the book also includes reflec­tions on Millie’s life after the Sec­ond World War, which fore­grounds her expe­ri­ences of the lega­cies of trau­ma and loss. 

Although Two Rings is writ­ten in the first-per­son from Millie’s point of view, as the book’s dual author­ship implies, it came about as a result of the trans­mis­sion of Millie’s sto­ry to Eve Keller, an Eng­lish pro­fes­sor. The book begins with an Intro­duc­tion by Keller in which she describes the way in which she became involved with Millie’s sto­ry, explores her own aca­d­e­m­ic and Jew­ish back­ground, and exam­ines the process by which Millie’s tes­ti­mo­ny became this text. Keller also describes the com­plex­i­ties of ren­der­ing Millie’s sto­ry on paper. 

Strik­ing­ly, the cov­er of Two Rings depicts a pho­to­graph of Mil­lie and Heniek and an image of their wed­ding rings, the only mate­r­i­al reminders of their rela­tion­ship that sur­vived the war. As such, Two Rings chal­lenges the read­er to reflect upon the impor­tance and com­plex­i­ties of pre­serv­ing Millie’s and Heniek’s sto­ries, and Keller’s rela­tion­ship to their sto­ries, in a writ­ten form. 

Discussion Questions