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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatic Holocaust testimony
This book contains the true story of a girl and her family as they struggle to survive the Holocaust in Poland. Hidden in a bunker underneath the floorboards of a neighbouring house, the book describes how Clara, her family and friends exist in a tiny cell literally dug from the earth.

The main body of the book follows the period where the group are living...
Published on 9 July 2009 by J. Cooper

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clara's War Review
Takes a while to get in to this Book. Once you get into the actual part
when the Family's are living in the Bunker, only then, can you truly appreciate what these people
endured. As typing this, have just the last few chapters to finish, but this is quite an extraordinary
read. Made me wonder how I would have coped under such horrendous conditions...
Published on 20 July 2010 by Uze


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatic Holocaust testimony, 9 July 2009
By 
J. Cooper (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
This book contains the true story of a girl and her family as they struggle to survive the Holocaust in Poland. Hidden in a bunker underneath the floorboards of a neighbouring house, the book describes how Clara, her family and friends exist in a tiny cell literally dug from the earth.

The main body of the book follows the period where the group are living within the bunker. There is a short section at the beginning and at the end which describes life for Clara both before and after the war.

Words cannot describe the feelings and emotions these people must have experienced whilst spending so much time beneath the ground depending on the volatile `Beck' and his wife. The presence of diehard Nazis living mere centimetres above their heads must have added a hundred times to the agony and trauma the families lived through.

As one would expect of a Holocaust testimony it is heart rendering and beyond belief. If you usually read such testimonies and experiences from first hand witnesses from the Holocaust period, then this book definitely needs to be in your library.

If you buy this book be prepared for an emotional read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Perspective, 4 Jun. 2009
By 
Ursula K. Raphael "AstraDaemon" (USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
I've read a lot of books about the Holocaust, but this is the first one I've read that is not centered on a concentration camp. In this case, a young girl, her family, and others from their town are trying to survive in a hidden bunker.

I can't believe that they lived like that for nearly two years, but -- thankfully -- they did survive. This is not like The Diary of Anne Frank...we learn a lot about the family that lives in the house above the bunker, and how they were just as fearful in the end because of the Russians, even though they had saved 18 Jews.

Also, the story doesn't end with the day the family comes out of hiding; the book includes how the following generations of the families were affected. Clara's story was so intense that I actually had nightmares about being in the bunker, while I was reading this book.

Another interesting story of survival is Those Who Save Us.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart wrenching account of one girls second world war struggle, 4 April 2008
This review is from: Clara's War (Hardcover)
I started this book on the bus on the way to work and nearly missed my stop as I was so engrossed! Having said that I was so touched and taken aback by what I was reading that I had to put it down for a few hours to have a bit of an emotional rest!! I finished it last night and I really think that's its incredible. Its so beautifully written, in particular I loved the description, this part - "Their lives had been reduced to what could be held in their suitcases. Their faces were blank. They dared not look at the uniformed soldiers with the death's head on their collars who seemed to be everywhere." really stood out to me. The depth of description gives the book such a richness.

It feels like a rollercoaster when you're reading, you really feel like you're living with them in that hell hole of a bunker and celebrating their good fortunes and literally holding your breath when the SS are above them. I started the book preparing to hate Beck but I think that he's almost the most humanised character in the whole book.

This is a really fantastic book and I can not recommend it highly enough, its going to be an important read for my generation to keep the horrors of the war in our consciousness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clara's War, 22 May 2009
By 
Kirsty Jones - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
An incredibly moving and powerful account of one girl's fight for survival in Poland. The fact that 3 families ended up hiding in such a small space is both incredible and terrifying. A very personal account of the human will to live and a real testatment to the human spirit and resolve. I couldn't put it down except a for a few time when I had to wipe my tears.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes harrowing, it is a story to be remembered, 2 Aug. 2014
By 
Andy_atGC (London UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
The story told within this book is not completely unique and there were many similar to be told within occupied Europe during the years of WW2.

The Kramers had spent the first half of the War in relative freedom although subject to some restrictions, but in 1942 the Germans had reached the more remote areas with the intention of gathering Jews, gypsies and various others. It was at that point, with the Germans showing a strong presence in their village, that they chose to enter their bunker. The name of the person who became their self-appointed protector would have surprised other neighbours, had they known.

The Kramer family were hiding in a hand-dug underground bunker and the Becks lived above them in a house in the small town of Zolkiew and were joined by two other families, 18 all told. Few could find much to admire about Mr Beck; a womanising drunkard and a self-confessed anti-Semite who would later have an affair with Clara's cousin and his own sister-in-law were traits that would endear him to very few, but for all his faults his protection of all three families was extremely effective. SS men billeted in the house and their constant drinking sessions did not faze him. A house fire and the ever-present SS could have put all at risk, the Becks included, but they survived. Their existence in the hidden bunker was never suspected or discovered and the Kramers remained safe until the Germans vacated Poland.

Clara told her story for the first time years after the events and when in late middle-age. This book is that story and it deserves to be read and known. Written mostly in the first person, and often in a childlike fashion, there are portions of the story that are disturbing and emotional for the reader. This is not a book that you will read for entertainment, but its story is one that should be read and remembered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A few know how to do the right thing even at the threat of death!, 18 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
"You could think that a person who looks in to the eyes of death as many times as we do would get used to it. But it's the opposite with us. The more we are in danger of dying, the more we are frightened. One wants to live no matter what and no matter how. Every day we look death in the eyes and every day has its own history. If at least we had a verdict, a time, how long we will suffer. We are sitting here and we don't even know if it's for nothing."
This comment written by Clara, 9th May 1944, describes the whole book really. Every moment, day and night, for 18 months, she and the other 17 people hiding from the nazis in Galicia, Poland, fear discovery and death. The fear comes off the pages in the book, the heat in summer, the dirt, the claustrophobia and the constant need for being quiet and keeping still so noone can hear that they are there. For 18 months Clara and her parents, neighbours and friends hid in a dug out bunker under a house. They were kept alive by a Volkdeutscher couple and their daughter, that owed these people nothing, that risked their own lives every day as well. The "German" father drank and sometimes were indiscreet in his drunkeness, he carried on a love affair with one of the hidden ones as well as his sister-in-law which brought on marital strife, he socialised with Ukrainian police, nazis and his daughter had a nazi pilot for boyfriend. Things could not have been more dangerous. But they all survived through a miracle and to read the story is very emotional.It's not only the story of Clara and how only 50 Jews in the town of Solkiew, out of 5000, survived the war, persecution and murder. It's also the story of how an ordinary couple dared to stand up for what was right even though it could have lead to a sure death. How they put aside their own needs to save the 18 living under their floor boards. It's truly an amazing story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "A race for death or freedom", 18 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
This is a true story of a teenage girl who keeps a diary of her experiences of WW2. This book is not a copy of her diary, but her story as she tells it many years later, using the diary as reference. Had she not kept the diary, she probably would not have been able to tell us her amazing story in such detail.

Clara Schwarz comes from a large, loving, middle-class family in a town in Poland. It is 1939 and the Germans have invaded. The first German occupation of the town is not so bad, but then stories begin to filter through of the Nazi's treatment of the Jews. Clara's father, fortunately a man of means, desperately begins to search for any sympathetic Polish family who is willing to hide them. Eventually, their ex-cleaning lady, Julia Beck, and her husband, Valentin agree to do it. Ironically, both are Volksdeutche. He is known in the town as an anti-Semite, a philanderer, and a heavy drinker. Amazingly, they agree to help the Schwarz family, plus 2 other Jewish families. As Volksdeutche, they are allowed to commandeer any Jewish house. They choose the house that belongs to the Melman's, who they have agreed to hide. In this house, the Schwarz's, the Melman's, and the other familiy dig out a crawl space under the floor boards, leading to a bunker where they will live. When the Becks take over the house, the three families go into hiding. Eventually 18 Jews are living under the floorboards. They thought they would only be there for 6 weeks or so. They were there for two years.

It is unbelievable that they are able to exist in such conditions. Often the Becks have SS soldiers staying with them, playing cards, visiting. They had German soldiers sleeping in beds only a few inches above the Schwarz's pallet beds. Bodily functions become a real issue, you could not cough, sneeze, or use the toilet without fear of being overheard. The delivery of food is sporadic, emptying the waste buckets becomes an exercise in split-second timing. Also, they worry about the Becks, as they are a disfunctional family with issues that could easily jeopardize their safety. The Becks bring them as much food and news as they can, and the news is often horrific. That Clara and her family didn't go mad with grief and worry is a testament to their courage and love for one another. As someone in another review mentions, this is a roller coaster of a book. Bad news and potential disaster keeps hitting them hard and fast, and Clara writes that their lives have become no more than "a race for death or freedom, but we don't know which."

The only fault, and this is not the fault of the author, is that the editing was poor. There were quite a few grammatical errors which caused me to stumble through a sentence. Hopefully this is only in the edition that I bought, and in no way detracts from this very moving story. The middle of the book contains photographs of some of the people involved, before and after the war, which are quite touching. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clara's War - a must, 12 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
This book is a must for those who are still trying to understand how, in just a few years, the Jewish population from all over central Europe was persecuted and driven to its near extinction. The English were the first to have a pogrom in York in 1190, so persecution of Jews was not new. But during the Nazi period it was possible to practice it with the added efficiency of radio propaganda, press control but most of all the trains which made mass transport possible. But Clara's war was strangely stationary, mostly taking place underground in a cellar. In many ways this story is much more astonishing than Anne Frank's. The Franks in hiding lived in much better conditions,Anne had the companionship and the idea of romance of a boy of a similar age. Clara by contrast was deprived of everything, including daylight, with the added responsibility of two orphaned children who threatened at any moment to give several families away to the Gestapo by simply crying for food or warmth.
It is a miracle that Clara Kramer survived this emotionally and, in her adult life, was able to find the energy and love for her fellow human beings to tell her story to countless children. A truly remarkable woman.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting tale of survival during WW2, 14 April 2011
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This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
This is a very sad and moving account of a jewish family's terrifying ordeal through the second world war. I have nothing but praise for this brave lady who lived through hell on earth and miraculously lived to tell the tale. Clara and members of her family (and others) endured almost two years of hiding from the nazis under the floorboards of a house and protected by Mr and Mrs Beck and their daughter. I fell in love with Beck who was a true hero, this family was so brave, risking their lives to save others. I shall never forget her story and others like it and consider myself very lucky not to have been born into a jewish family at that time in history. It's definately a "must read"!
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5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating memoir, 15 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Clara's War (Paperback)
This is an utterley absorbing and well written memoir of a young Jewish girl's nightmare hiding in a cellar to escape deportation and death at the hands of the Nazi regime,with her family and several others. We learn of the erratic Polish man who saves their lives at great risk to his own and his wife's and daughter's, and also learn of life before and after the war. I have read many books from this era and would heartily recommend Clara's War; as we grow to know the family and community the horror of what happened becomes ever more tragic and the virulent anti-Semitism we know of is off-set by some amazing acts of kindness and bravery.
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Clara's War
Clara's War by Clara Kramer (Paperback - 5 Feb. 2009)
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