Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Review: Born Survivors

Born Survivors Born Survivors by Wendy Holden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is one of those books that is so meticulously researched and the detail is so realistic, it hurts to read it. I think what struck me the most about these stories and the women besides the fact that they were able to hide their pregnancies for so long, is that they were cadavarous humans we have seen with the dead eyes. Their birth stories are told in one chapter which all occurred near the very end of the war. Just to be clear, that time period was the time that the Third Reich were actively destroying all evidence of their crimes, including the prisoners they had starved, mistreated, dehydrated, and abused. The book follows a timeline for each woman that builds to the complete dehumanization of them by the time they enter Auschwitz. Each woman was greeted with the Angel of Death who asked them, "Are you pregnant?" Each woman answered that they were not.

The title of the book indicates that the babies were born but that, surprisingly, is not the take away for me. It was the complete lack of humanity they were born into. Of course, I can't discount the acts of kindness in the village that nearly made me weep, or the women prisoners that somehow fashioned a layette for one of the babies. But the nations, as a whole, turned a blind eye while the guards and SS were completely sadistic. Each of the children's births were so appalling. Unsanitary is a huge understatement. These mothers held on to the ever elusive hope of a better world for their babies. They did not give up although it would have been easier to do so. Yet that was their strength. It is also completely miraculous that they were not selected time and time again to go "left" which was always death.

Reading this book was all consuming. I can not imagine how the author did all of the research and wrote what she did. Most of all, I can not imagine what these prisoners and all of the others endured, lived and died. There really are no words to truly give this book the description it deserves.

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