Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Forbidden Strawberries

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review - Forbidden Strawberries

About the Book
Ciporo Hurwitz was just a little girl when her family was discovered hiding in the attic of a small building in a town that was taken over by the invading Germans.

Her parents were murdered by the Nazis.  She was placed on a train and sent to the Majdanek death camp in eastern Poland by the Nazis. She spent the next six years there. She survived.

Forbidden Strawberries is her story.

Ciporo with her family in Poland. 

Cipora Hurwitz (her original name is Fela Rozensztajn) was five years old when the Second World War erupted.  In a blink of the eye, her tranquil family life became a living Hell.

The Germans slowly and steadily stripped them of belongings, money and jewels. Her eldest brother survived the war by the skin of his teeth by fleeing to the Soviet Union.

The whole family stood in the living room as my parents packed Nathan
a few razor blades. They knew that this was an expensive commodity on
the other side of the border, and he would be able to sell the razor blades
and use the money to buy food. They also packed him photographs of
all the members of the family, and one outfit of clothing. He had a small
suitcase that would not burden him as he tried to cross the river.

First her father was jailed and then imprisoned.  Then her mother was arrested as well. The two remaining children were given two hours to leave the house, which was taken over by a woman who had informed on them to the Germans.  

They went from house to house. Hiding from the Germans with machine guns who shot people who gave them even the slightest reason or resistance.

One day during roll call, the Germans announced that all sixteen year olds in the camp would be assigned “interesting” work outside of Jatkowa.

All they needed to do was to report to a specific location from which the Germans in charge would take them to work. After Shalom
was murdered, a Jewish man who was a friend of my parents told them
that when he saw Shalom walking toward the group of teenagers, he
warned him not to go because the Germans were lying again. However,
after seeing that most of the people his age were going, my brother did
not listen to this warning. As soon as a large enough group assembled the
Germans surrounded them, brought them to the Jewish cemetery, and
ordered them to dig a hole. They never imagined the purpose it would
eventually serve. After they dug the hole, the Germans pushed them
in and cut them down with machinegun fire. The boys had dug their
own graves.

Her parents and thousands of others were unable to escape.  They were eventually rounded up, arrested and unceremoniously taken to the death camp.

When my parents left the house that morning, they did not say goodbye
any differently than they usually did, and the fact that they were so
abruptly taken away by the Germans meant that I never had the chance
to say goodbye to them.

Cipora, now an orphan, lived with her Aunt in the ghetto. Eventually was shipped on a train to the Budzyn Labor camp and then to the Majdanek extermination camp.  

Forbidden Strawberries is the story of the things she remembers and the events of her life in the camps.  She survived.

I had been hidden in closets in a ghetto and a concentration camp. I even lived through the hell of Majdanek. Now, after all this, with the Germans seemingly gone, a new and unexpected threat had appeared. 

As I already alluded to, the state of my hygiene was indescribable. My hair had not been combed. It was full of lice and itched terribly. I know that I smelled horribly, but I was too weak to do anything about this. Days and
possibly weeks passed, while I slowly regained my strength.

She considers herself to be a “lucky” child, who managed to survive from among the one and a half million Jewish children whose lives were cut short by the German nation in the period of the Nazi regime.

There I stood, a ten-and a half-year old girl, wearing a thin
flowery dress, carrying a small pack of bread and salami wrapped in
cotton cloth, all alone on the road to Lublin. I had no information as
to the fate and location of my parents or any other relatives and I was
headed to a city that I did not know. Majdanek was actually located in
Lublin. My sole knowledge of the city was what I could see through the
camp’s electric barbed wire fence. Standing on the road I had no idea
how I would find the 3rd of May Street, or if the story that there were
Jews on that street was even true. But I was free and alive, and I was a
                       Jewish girl in Poland who no longer had to fear the Germans.
About Cipora Hurwitz

Born in Hrubieszow, Poland, Cipora Hurwitz (Fela Rozensztajn), endured all of the horrors of the Holocaust as a young child, and miraculously survived. She arrived, an orphan, in Palestine in 1947, and was educated in a 'Youth Aliya' group in Kibbutz Bet. Zera. After Army Service Cipora married an American-born 'chalutz', Ariel Hurwitz, and settled in his kibbutz, Gal On in the northern Negev. They had three children. Cipora studied at the Kibbutz Teachers Seminary, and for many years taught Hebrew to new immigrants in the framework of the Jewish Agency Ulpanim.. 

Eight minute video on You Tube of Ciporo leading a group of high school students from Israel and the US on a visit to the death camp.

The trip became the basis of a new book authored by Cipora Forbidden Strawberries

My Take on the Book
I have read testimonials from Holocaust survivors before in both book format and in online accounts, and this book was so raw and open that I found myself plowing through the chapters. I was so amazed at the courage and that she and other showed through their experience as well as the reality of what life was really like in those days. The story told in this book was haunting as well as gripping and it made me want to re-read sections again to make sure that I understood, while continuing to read due to the nature of the story itself.

I highly recommend the book, it is one you will not want to miss!

If this book sounds like one that you would like for your own family you can find it on Amazon!

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Terms of Use  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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