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Most Polish Jews who survived the Second World War did not go to concentration camps, but were banished by Stalin to the remote prison settlements and Gulags of the Soviet Union. Less than ten percent of Polish Jews came out of the war alive - the largest population of Jews who endured - for whom Soviet exile was the main chance for survival. Ellen G. Friedman's The Seven, a Family Holocaust Story is an account of this displacement.
The title of the book comes from the closeness that set seven individuals apart from the hundreds of thousands of other refugees in the Gulags of the USSR. The Seven - a name given to them by their fellow refugees - were Polish Jews from Warsaw, most of them related. The Seven, a Family Holocaust Story brings together the very different perspectives of the survivors and others who came to be linked to them, providing a glimpse into the repercussions of the Holocaust in one extended family who survived because they were loyal to one another, lucky, and endlessly enterprising. Interwoven into the survivors' accounts of their experiences before, during, and after the war are their own and the author's reflections on the themes of exile, memory, love, and resentment.
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Not easy at first with style but then I couldn’t stop listening to the very end.
Ellen brought to life the story of six Jewish family members plus one friend who escaped the start of the Nazi war and fled to “freedom” into Russia. Ellen tells the story mainly through transcripts in a conversational style that I was slow to catch onto at the start. Once I adapted to the style I couldn’t stop listening. Ellen also undertook her own deep research the corroborate the early transcripts for accuracy. She also adds in historical data to assist the readers. These brutal years during the war shaped these survivors for the rest of their lives and influenced their families since. All I can say is how lucky are we who didn’t experience this horror. I totally recommend this book.
This should have never been a book
If anything, it should have been an interview, but as it's written it's unbearable to listen to.