I Shall Live

I Shall Live : Surviving the Holocaust, 1939-45

4.28 (984 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

On 15th September 1939 the Orenstein family of Hrubieszow, Poland, joined the stream of refugees fleeing the German army. For the next six years the lives of this once-prosperous Jewish family were to be an almost inconceivable nightmare of cramped waterless hideouts, betrayals by their Polish neighbours, beatings, concentration camps, brutal forced marches, and finally, for some, murder. Their story is movingly told by Henry, the youngest son, who survived the war through intelligence, luck, bravery, and determination to live. As well as the ordeals and horrors of the holocaust he also describes his life in pre-war Poland: the satisfactions of academic success, thrashing the school bully, and his mother's cooking, as well as the indignities of assaults, taunts, and Jewish quotas in schools, and the ever-present fear of pogroms.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 128 x 190 x 22mm | 240.4g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 25 b&w photographs
  • 0192852124
  • 9780192852120

Review Text

This is not an historian's Holocaust analysis, but a victim's Holocaust story: a chronologically arranged memoir, unsoftened by memory's filter, unyielding in its recording of horror. Orenstein first describes how his family attempted to evade capture by the Nazis. His parents and their five children managed to remain free for three years after the Nazis invaded Poland. He writes of their life under seige, culminating in a poignant section on their capture. Orenstein evokes their hiding in a tiny concealed spot for eight days, their exhaustion, their fateful decision to surrender, and the subsequent execution of the parents who are led away leaving only the final admonition to "save the children." In the second part, a harrowing, detailed description of life in concentration camps, Orenstein paints vivid portraits of each of the five camps in which he was imprisoned. The requirements of survival and Orenstein's refusal to turn away from telling what happened make for some unnerving reading. At numerous times, Orenstein was almost killed. One particularly gruesome moment has him in a pit with an SS man pointing a revolver at him, telling him to get out of the pit and then stomping on his fingers as he tries. In many ways this straightforward narrative is almost too personal - and, as such, it just misses what it could have been: the symbolic story revelatory of a Jewish will to survive. Orenstein does have the knack of bringing readers along with him on his trip to hell, however; and none that accompany him will emerge unscathed. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

984 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
5 50% (488)
4 33% (329)
3 14% (135)
2 2% (23)
1 1% (9)
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