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Rena's Promise: Two Sisters in Auschwitz Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 288 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Imagining that, by volunteering for a work camp, she would somehow be protecting her family from the Nazis, Rena, at age 17, put on her best clothes, left her fiance and the Polish village of Tylicz in the Carpathian Mountains and was sent off to Auschwitz. Presently, her sister Danka arrived, as did cousins, schoolmates and neighbors. As a child, she had promised her mother to look after her baby sister, and that promise obsessed her throughout her incarceration in the camp. It gave her reason to survive, so that one day she could bring Danka safely home. How they escaped starvation, beatings, the crematorium, the medical experiments of the notorious Josef Mengele and survived the end of the war is all recounted here in this spirited survivor's testament, written with freelancer Macadam. After the war, Rena married a Red Cross worker and emigrated to the U.S., following her sister.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Gelissen, who was on the first Jewish transport to Auschwitz, describes in this account the constant struggle for survival in the camp. She soon learns there were no guarantees. Rena's motivation came strongly from a promise to her parents to keep her younger sister, Danka, safe. Her account describes the relentless specter of death while at the same time showing how prisoners would risk their lives to smuggle medicine, clothes, and food to other prisoners. Because Rena was an early prisoner in Auschwitz, she describes some of the confusion at the beginning and the realization of what was really happening to the Jewish people. Helpful features of the book include historical notes and a section describing the fate of the people the sisters knew. This memoir captures the horror of Auschwitz in a clear way that helps the reader understand the atrocities perpetrated there. Recommended for Holocaust collections.
Mary Salony, West Virginia Northern Community Coll. Lib., Wheeling
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1670 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Kindle Edition edition (Jan. 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004LLIX7Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #142,845 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the best Holocaust book I have read so far. It was touching, sad, and really heartwarming. Like most books written by survivors of concentration camps, it makes you angry that people could be so cruel and ruthlessly kill people and children at the drop of a hat.
Rena and Danka are sisters, aged 21 and 19 when they are sent to Auschwitz. Rena promises her mother that she will take care of her baby sister Danka, and watch after her, and never leave her side. Rena sticks by that promise and lives it out.
The book shows that there is strength in numbers, and how sticking by each other, can help people through the most horrible situations. Even at the camps, where murder, starvation and disease was rampant, Rena and Danka managed to make alot of friends, including some male inmates on the other side of the electric fence. These men managed to sneak medical supplies,food and notes to Rena and Danka, giving them the strength to try and survive one more day.
There are helpful footnotes at the bottom of many of the pages explaining some historical facts and definitions the reader may not have been previously familiar with.
I was particularly disturbed at the part where the SS selected some girls to practice gymnastics for a few days so that they may put on a show for the very SS guards that sometimes yelled and beat them. All for a little bit of extra food. The girls were already sick and weak and to make these girls do this was outright cruel-no surprise though to people who know how evil the SS and Nazi's were.
Rena's quick thinking got her and Danka out of a couple situations which would have resulted in imminent death.
There is also a nice update at the end of the book and Rena does her best to update the reader on some main characters in the book-the friends that helped her, and the enemies that made her life hell.
Excellent book. 10/10. Speiberg, take note.
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Format: Paperback
"Rena's Promise" is a powerful first-hand account of life and death in the Women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rena Kornreich submitted herself to the Germans in 1942 on the assumption she was doing the right thing under the Anti-Jewish laws of the time. Certainly the last thing she expected was the boxcar ride to Auschwitz.
The book is very well written, and kudos are due to Heather Dune MacAdam for her ability to listen to, draw out, and summarize Mrs. Gelissen's memories. I found the footnotes relating events in the narrative to external documentation are very useful. I would have liked more of these, but I think their inclusion would have spoiled the overall flow and the book is better for their absence.
A particularly powerful theme in the book is the sense of monotony that Mrs. Gelissen and others survived: "4 a.m. Raus! Raus!"--this is repeated over and over in each section--followed by hard labor.
After reading "Rena's Promise" I could not imagine how she (and the other survivors) reconstructed their lives after 1945. It is an amazing thing.
I think "Rena's Promise" and Elie Wiesel's "Night" provide excellent personal accounts of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Neither are heavily footnoted historical references (Gutman's "Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp" being an example). I would also recommend "We Were in Auschwitz".
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Format: Paperback
I've been looking for a book about the Holocaust that I could read to my two daughters for a long time, and now I have found it!
My daughters instantly bonded with Rena and her younger sister Danka. Seeing the world through Rena's eyes they were able to see many things I found hard to tell them. Though the eyes of a young girl-woman whom they could identify with, my daughters listen to and follow every word as I read.
They see the devoted love of Rena's mother who shaved her head in Jewish Orthodox style in devotion to her husband, they watched as Rena flirted with a prohibited young gentile boyfriend who steals a first kiss, they see Poland invaded by Nazi power, they listen unbelievably as Rena steps in front of German soldiers with guns ready to shoot as she tells them you will have to shoot me first before I let you kill my father. We follow as she mistakenly sacrifices herself to save the others by turning herself into the German authorities and then becomes one of the first to be interned at Auschwitz only to see her younger sister Danka follow. My daughters listen on the edge of their seats as Rena makes a solemn death oath to her sister to protect and if necessary die for her and with her. We listen in tears as Rena is badly beaten for letting the older women in her work group rest. My girls recoil in shock as Rena tells of mothers and daughters waiting in line nude to be shaved from head to toe sometimes even by their own brothers and fathers under threat of death.
There is much more, but, I can't do this book justice by trying to describe it here. So, in closing, I say this, Rena's Promise is a must buy and should be read by every teenager in the world.
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Format: Paperback
Rena's Promise is the beautifully told story of two remarkable young women in their early twenties who endure and survive nearly three and one half years as prisoners of the Nazis in Auschwitz and Ravensbruck. The love that Rena has for her younger sister, Danka, sustains her and helps her to endure the atrocities and indignities forced upon them on a daily basis by the Nazis. During the time they are prisoners, Rena never once forgets the promise to her mother to take care of her younger sister. There are numerous times when Rena unhesitatingly gives up her daily crust of bread in exchange for medicine or a much needed salve for Danka. And at times when Rena is able to "organize" an extra tidbit of food such as a tiny piece of potato peeling, she meticulously divides it and without exception shares it with her beloved sister. Although Rena is the stronger of the two sisters, Danka's strength emerges during the death march when Rena becomes so weak she cannot stand and walk without assistance. Danka refuses to leave her and with the help of a friend, they support Rena until she regains sufficient strength to walk. In the mist of thousands of starving prisoners when a crust of bread could mean the difference of life or death, Rena retained both dignity and honesty. She was once chosen unanimously by more than a hundred women prisoners with whom she worked to divide ten Red Cross packages of food that miraculously made their way into Rena's block. Numerous footnotes are provided by Rena's freelance co-author which helps the reader to place the events of Rena's story into the sequential order of previously documented facts of the Holocaust. Rena's Promise is a testimony of how the love for her sister gave her the will to go on and how something so simple as the offering by a Nazi of a rag to clean her beaten and bloody face was viewed as a great act compassion.
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