Signs of Survival: a memoir of the Holocaust – Renee Hartman with Joshua M. Greene

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Scholastic

November 2021

  • ISBN: 9781338753356

RRP: $28.25

I found out about this book via Mighty Girl about a week ago and was so pleased that not only had my local library acquired it very recently but that it was available. I read it last night in one sitting (just over 100 pages is all) and, trust me, this is one you want in your collection for sure. I know how many kiddos I’ve had over the years with a deep interest in the Holocaust and preserving memories – quite a number of them who had family members murdered or impacted.

Renee and her younger sister, Herta, were little girls in Bratislava when the terror began. Their story of survival despite incredible odds, and the horror of Bergen-Belsen became part of the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. From there, Renee developed their history into this very easily read version for younger readers with the supplementary material from Joshua M. Greene.

From the vantage point of their present day as American citizens, having been transplanted there after the war and finding out their parents had been among those killed by the Nazis, Renee and Herta share their extraordinary and terribly poignant story. It’s amazing because not only did two little girls survive despite all odds, Herta’s deafness marked her out as inferior in the eyes of the Nazi regime and their butcher-doctors, and Renee was mere hours away from being dead of typhoid when Bergen-Belsen was liberated. Do yourself a favour and hunt it out and read it but, more importantly, acquire it for your collection and promote it to your children. We all have a moral responsibility let alone a compassionate impetus to ensure that the history of this most heinous episode in human history is neither forgotten nor repeated.

Herta, aged 9 on the left and Renee, aged ten and a half on the right.

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