The Daughter of Auschwitz by Tova Freidman and Malcolm Brabent @QuercusBooks

Book Description:

‘I am a survivor. That comes with a survivor’s obligation to represent one and half million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis. They cannot speak. So I must speak on their behalf.’

Tova was four when she and her parents were sent to a Nazi labour camp, and almost six when she and her mother were forced into a packed cattle truck and sent to Auschwitz II, also known as the Birkenau extermination camp. During six months of incarceration in Birkenau, Tova witnessed atrocities that she could never forget, and experienced numerous escapes from death. She is one of a handful of Jews to have entered a gas chamber and lived to tell the tale. In The Daughter of Auschwitz, Tova immortalizes what she saw, to keep the story of the Holocaust alive, at a time when it’s in danger of fading from memory.


My Thoughts:

Having recently been to Krakow and visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, I was keen to read more books about this horrific time in our history. I came across this book and was intrigued to read more.

The majority of the book focuses on Tova growing up just as the war was starting and her time during the war. She was an only child and was fortunate enough in staying with her mother throughout most of it. Not many families came through the ordeal and whilst many of Tova’s extended family as well as friends of the family sadly never made it, Tova and her parents did.

Living through the Holocaust not only leaves physical but mental scars also. Tova and her parents all suffered in different ways and found their own ways of coping. What was even more heartbreaking than the camps themselves was to see how unwelcoming countries were in the aftermath and the hostility against Jewish people. You would think after all they had been through more people would have opened them with welcome arms but sadly this wasn’t the case. After some moving around Tova and her family moved to the United States of which Tova tells of not only the hostility against them but African Americans also.

Tova’s own story really should be a reminder of the horrific things that come from hate and not understanding different cultures. She mentions about wars that have happened around the world since then including the recent happenings in Ukraine and how there is still so much hatred, racism and antisemitism around. It is sad that as a whole, people have not learned from our past and this is why it is so important for people like Tova and other survivors to tell their stories. Sadly as the years go by and the survivors are getting less, our schools and parents should be doing more to teach children in the hope they will learn from it and stamp out these horrible traits.

The Daughter of Auschwitz was an incredibly powerful and emotional read. It made me so sad and angry at the same time. Whilst reading books on this subject is never easy, Tova’s story is written with such empathy and emotion and I applaud her for her bravery in reliving her darkest times to help pave the way for a hopefully better future for us all. An absolute must read.

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