All but My Life is the basis for the Academy Award–winning documentary from HBO, One Survivor Remembers.
This is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein’s six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz, Poland, to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops—including the man who was to become her husband—in Volary, Czechoslovakia, Gerda takes us on a terrifying journey.
Gerda’s serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years, Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of “all but her life.” By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.
Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda’s beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century’s terrible history of devastation and prejudice yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.
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"I love this book. I need to go buy it now. This book is about the horrors of the Holocaust yes, but it also shows how even when it seems like no one has their humanity anymore there are,and always will be, people who have hearts and show compassion. Who are human. This book is filled with sadness yet also with hope. With loss but also with happiness. "Look to the helpers, in times of tragedies, you will always find people who are helping." (view spoiler)[ It amazes me, how Ilse and the other girls have practically nothing, yet they constantly give to Gerda. Like Ilse had that one raspberry she found, and instead of eating it she gave it to Gerda. Also, Frau Kugler. Amazing how much compassion and heart she had. (hide spoiler)] Seriously. It amazes and inspires me to see how much humanity people had during times of despair. I phrased my feelings horribly but I think if you read this book, then you'll understand"
Emily (5 out of 5 stars)