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By Halina Nelken

Whilst Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Halina Nelken was once a precocious teen, dwelling a middle-class lifestyles in Krakow. Like different ladies her age, she recorded her own observations and emotions in a diary. As stipulations in Krakow deteriorated and her kin was once compelled into the Jewish ghetto, she endured to put in writing, ultimately smuggling her diary out with a Catholic good friend. This impressive ebook tells the tale of Nelken's stories within the ghetto and later in 8 Nazi focus camps, together with Plaszow, Auschwitz, and Ravensbruck. Her diary entries, written among 1938 and 1943, shape the middle of the amount and are supplemented through reminiscences written almost immediately after the conflict and through later commentaries and explanatory notes which she extra within the mid-1980s. even supposing there exist various released and unpublished memoirs by way of Holocaust survivors, Nelken's e-book provides one of many few extant diaries written on the time.

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I must have been about four years old when I encountered her quick temper on our vacation visit to her villa in Slovakia. I remember that rosebushes bloomed in large pots on the patio and velvety pansies encircled tall trees in the garden where I loved to play. My aunt walked with me over to the gazebo at "high tea" time. I do not remember why I was cranky; perhaps it was too hot and my starched embroidered dress made me uncomfortable. But I sat down among the pansies and, looking at her with defiance, refused to moveby temperament we were obviously related.

This one picture survived, and now, in my living room in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it radiates the tranquil rural charm of my native Poland. The turn of the century art of "Young Poland" was as popular in the homes of the Kraków intelligentsia as Oriental carpets, oleander plants, or delicate asparagus fern in decorative vases, and bric-a-brac. The back of the china cabinet mirrored tiny animals carved in coral and ivory, decorated with gold or silver; animals of agate, amber, and venetian glass; graceful figurines of Meissen porcelain, and a little Hansel and Gretel housethe witch's house reallyornamented with shells of all kinds of shapes.

Perhaps, these really were only echoes of oft-repeated stories, but they constitute my earliest memories of my familythose stories and the images of four pairs of eyes: the violet-blue of my mother, the grayish blue of Grandma, and the green-blue of my father and brother. My parents' bedroom was filled with Viennese furniture decorated with inlays of light blond wood. Evenings, the hanging lamp threw an elaborate design on the high ceiling and a soft glow over the spacious and cheerfully cozy room.

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