My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love After Auschwitz

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9780689820267: My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love After Auschwitz

Elli Friedmann was fourteen years old in April 1945 when American soldiers liberated her from her Nazi captors and the harrowing year she spent at Auschwitz and other concentration camps where Jews were mass murdered. At the opening of this book, Elli, her mother, and brother, recently reunited, return to their home in Czechoslovakia, expecting to pick up the lives they left behind. Instead, they confront the harsh realities of a house stripped bare, a town occupied by strangers, and the news that Daddy will never return. The anti-Semitism that still remains makes life there so oppressive that Elli and her family decide to immigrate to America -- a journey that will take six harrowing years of waiting in one temporary shelter after another. Along the way Elli builds bridges of hope for other Holocaust survivors. She rescues Jewish orphans from rioting Slovak partisans, smuggles Jewish refugees to Palestine, and becomes a headmaster of a Jewish school, all the while struggling with her nightmarish past and questions about her future. Her teenage years, which culminate in a daring escape from behind the Iron Curtain, are a dizzying merry-go-round of danger, excitement, and love. Thrilling, touching, and thought-provoking, this sequel to "I Have Lived a Thousand Years" offers a firsthand glimpse into post-war Europe. Elli's indomitable spirit shines through every page, making this an inspiring memoir.

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About the Author:

Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to Auschwitz. They were liberated in 1945 and came to the United States on a refugee boat in 1951. She received a PhD in Hebrew culture and Jewish history from New York University. Dr. Bitton-Jackson has been a professor of history at City University of New York for thirty-seven years. Her previous books include Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, which received the Christopher Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and the Jewish Heritage Award. Dr. Bitton-Jackson lives in Israel with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

From Publishers Weekly:

Bitton-Jackson continues the memoir begun so searchingly in I Have Lived a Thousand Years. Now 14 and a survivor of Auschwitz, she returns with her mother and older brother to their once-Hungarian town in what has become Czechoslovakia. There they learn of her father's death; they find their house plundered, friendly-seeming neighbors reluctant to return their possessions and the local school, once a haven to Elli (as she is called here) completely re-staffed by the Communists. Readers will be awed at the bewildering maze of decisions facing Elli and her family. Should she apply for a visa to the U.S. or travel illegally to Palestine, as she, a member of an underground organization, is helping other Jews to do? When Elli and her brother get American visas, the family decides that her brother will go alone and try to expedite a visa for their mother. But years pass before they are reunited, and as the Americans close their embassy in Czechoslovakia, Elli dreams up and executes a breathtakingly daring escape for herself and her mother. It seems never to have occurred to Elli not to be brave; only once or twice does she express her agony at what she has witnessed in Auschwitz, and she resolutely works to make life better for those around her as well as her family. Bitton-Jackson's prose is not as fresh as in her previous book, and in some ways she is less personal, observing more and revealing herself less directly. But her story is utterly involving, and adds an important chapter to the ongoing attempt to understand the Holocaust and its consequences. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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