on 30 July 1998
Ruth Elias' moving memoir of surviving the Holocaust and then building a new life in Israel is a haunting reminder of how resilient the human spirit is. She survives Theresienstadt and Auschwitz after losing all her family to the Nazis. In her memoir's most unforgettable episode, she delivers a daughter in a dirty, makeshift bed at Auschwitz and becomes a subject in one of Joseph Mengele's most gruesome experiments. Her infant will satisfy Mengele's curiosity about the amount of time a newborn can survive without nourishment. Elias' breasts are bandaged so that she cannot breastfeed and the child she can't bear to name suffers horribly for six days. A fellow prisoner provides a morphine injection to put the baby out of its misery and Elias herself delivers the death dosage. This is powerful narrative from a woman who saw degradation and death and survived thanks to her will and her love of music. It's an interesting addition to the list of Holocaust memoirs and a remind! er that the dream of Eretz Israel helped people like Ruth Elias survive to tell the tale the Nazis wanted no one to hear. I only wish that Elias had added more about her early years in Israel to her narrative, but perhaps she's saving that for a sequel to her memoirs.