The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story Book Review

To be the descendent of a Holocaust survivor is to grow up with a trauma that stretches well beyond the first generation. They have a unique responsibility to tell the stories of their loved ones that sometimes feel more pressing than those of us whose direct families were out of harm’s way during the war.

The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story, by Nechama Birnbaum, was published at the end of last year. The book tells the story of her late grandmother, Rosie Greenstein. Though Rosie was often told that her red hair was undesirable, she believed that it was an asset. Though her family was poor, Rosie’s childhood was idyllic. Raised by her widowed mother, she dreamed of her wedding day and future husband.

That dream came crashing down in 1944. The Jews of Hungary were forced out of their homes and sent directly to Auschwitz. The only thing that is keeping her alive is her fierce spirit and the will to survive in the face of all-encompassing death.

This biography is written in such a way that every gruesome and horrific detail is hard to ignore or forget. The narrative flashes between two different time periods until the story converges: Rosie’s life before the war and her time in the death camp. What I got from the book was more than a granddaughter’s love for her grandmother. It was pride in the strength that was passed down through the generations and families that come into the world since the end of the war.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. P.S. I also recommend following the corresponding Instagram account.

The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story is available wherever books are sold.

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Somehow I Am Different: Narratives of Searching and Belonging in Jewish Budapest Book Review

Being a member of a minority is never easy. Especially when we face multiple external pressures to fit in with the larger culture.

In 2015, Alyssa R Petersel published her first book, Somehow I Am Different: Narratives of Searching and Belonging in Jewish Budapest. The book is a non fiction anthology of what it is be a Jew in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. Interviewing 21 individuals, Ms. Petersel, an American woman of Jewish descent, explores what it means to be Jewish, especially in a city that has lived through Nazism and Communism.

What made this book so fascinating is that the people the author interviewed are no different than any group of individuals living in a big city. There is a universal quality to this book. One could, hypothetically speaking, change the religion and the location of the interviewees and the stories would more or less be the same.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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