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In the Sewers of Lvov Paperback – 10 Oct 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana Press; New edition edition (10 Oct 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000637512X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006375128
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,435,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Foley on 24 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a true story of the courage of ordinary people who found themselves tested to the very limit of human endurance. It also has the thread of survival running through it.

I would recommend it to anybody interested in this dark period of modern history. It also carries a warning of what human beings can sink to.

Let us never forget the brave people who helped strangers in this time
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk on 20 Jan 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before the war the small town of Gdow, the nearest large community to my grandfather's farm, had a sizeable number of Jews living in it. My father used to talk about them; they ran some of the shops and inns, they traded with his parents, he went to school with them (they gave him their chicken sandwiches and he gave them his pork kielbasa ones). One of these Jews, a trader called Samuel, often came round to the farm and would chat with my grandparents. He would make complimentary comments about my grandmother's Bigos, hinting at being given a bowl. She would joke with him and warn him that the Rabbi would have something to say if he knew he was eating pork... and he would joke back. When the Germans came Samuel came to see my grandfather and asked him to help him. My grandfather said, "I can hide you for three days but no longer, if the Germans find out then they'll not only kill me but my wife and children as well." Samuel replied that he would not impose himself on his good friends but would find another way of surviving.
He didn't. He and all the Jews of Gdow; shopkeepers, innkeepers, tradesmen, schoolfriends, ended up in Belzec and were turned into ashes, bones and dust.
This book is about something that is almost taken for granted throughout. It is not really about the courage it took to survive in the sewers of Lvov because survival is not about courage, more about determination to live despite all the hazards. This book is about the courage of one man, Leopold Socha. To put your life in danger for others is a brave choice, but to put the lives of those you love at risk... that takes a kind of courage few people actually exhibit - yet so many in Poland did in that nightmare time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Needs to be read... 20 Jan 2013
By Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Before the war the small town of Gdow, the nearest large community to my grandfather's farm, had a sizeable number of Jews living in it. My father used to talk about them; they ran some of the shops and inns, they traded with his parents, he went to school with them (they gave him their chicken sandwiches and he gave them his pork kielbasa ones). One of these Jews, a trader called Samuel, often came round to the farm and would chat with my grandparents. He would make complimentary comments about my grandmother's Bigos, hinting at being given a bowl. She would joke with him and warn him that the Rabbi would have something to say if he knew he was eating pork... and he would joke back. When the Germans came Samuel came to see my grandfather and asked him to help him. My grandfather said, "I can hide you for three days but no longer, if the Germans find out then they'll not only kill me but my wife and children as well." Samuel replied that he would not impose himself on his good friends but would find another way of surviving.
He didn't. He and all the Jews of Gdow; shopkeepers, innkeepers, tradesmen, schoolfriends, ended up in Belzec and were turned into ashes, bones and dust.
This book is about something that is almost taken for granted throughout. It is not really about the courage it took to survive in the sewers of Lvov because survival is not about courage, more about determination to live despite all the hazards. This book is about the courage of one man, Leopold Socha. To put your life in danger for others is a brave choice, but to put the lives of those you love at risk... that takes a kind of courage few people actually exhibit - yet so many in Poland did in that nightmare time. Socha may not have started with saintly aspirations but there can be no doubt that saint he became.
I was inspired to read "In the Sewers of Lvov" after watching Agnieszka Holland's "In Darkness" (it's the original book that the film is based on - "The Girl in the Green Sweater" is a more recent 'compilation' of reminiscences written partly by the small girl who survived). It's a very easy read and gives us a reasonable picture of what life was like for the individuals who hid in the sewers as well as in the ghetto and the concentration camp, Janowska, nearby. It's not intellectually demanding since, I believe, it was written for the general audience. I was quite surprised at how much the film reflects the book yet, whilst there is little new in the book (having seen the film), I still enjoyed it and still found it fascinating.
It's surprising how little of the dirt and smell, even danger, comes across. The small group of Jews helped by Socha had obviously grown so used to the horrible circumstances in which they found themselves. It's only really towards the end, when outsiders become involved, that that one becomes aware of the dirt and smell and conditions they had to endure. Most of the story, based on the written reminiscences of the leader of the group, Ignacy Chiger, and interviews with other survivors, deals with their day-to-day survival, the relationships within the group, the arguments. Whilst there are deaths they are largely almost incidental... this story is about life... and the courage of that one special man who found safe havens and brought them food, Socha.
The moment that really stands out for me is that one when the dirty, hunched, almost blind group finally come to the surface. People stand around amazed, stunned. The little boy is frightened and wants to go back down. Socha stands there proudly. "This is my work," he says, "These are my Jews." How many of us can ever hope to have that courage and that pride?
And the final chapter, the one dealing with the aftermath is new stuff to those who have seen the film, apart, that is, from that final tragedy and those disgraceful words...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
intensely powerful look into the lives of those that hid in the sewers to escape persecution 27 Oct 2011
By djim reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i purchased a used copy of this book after having seen the telluride-by-the-sea film festival in portsmouth, new hampshire's presentation of "in darkness", which was based on this book. the movie itself was incredibly filmed and a very compelling and powerful piece of storytelling, but as with many movies, sometimes the facts are manipulated, even ever so slightly, in order to get a deeper story across, or to enable the director to relate some part of the story that touches them, to further accentuate this or that. "in darkness" takes a few of these liberties, and while never completely fabricating events, it certainly shifts timelines and personalities, and this i have come to realize, only after having read this account compiled by robert miller, with the help of those that survived this ordeal. containing many first hand accounts, sometimes one incident will have 3 or more perspectives, the author attempts to paint as clear a picture of how these people survived for 14 months in the sewer system of lvov, with the help of leon socha and his assistants. ultimately, it shows that despite the senselessness of holocaust events, humanity did not disappear completely.
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