Cover image for My survival : a girl on Schindler's list
My survival : a girl on Schindler's list
Physical Description:
112 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

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Rena Finder was only eleven when the Nazis forced her and other Jewish people into the ghetto in Krakow, Poland, during WWII. Then, Rena and her mother were taken to a work camp. By chance, they found jobs in the factory of a German man named Oskar Schindler. Still, Rena was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. It was Schindler and his wife who would ultimately help her escape.

Author Notes

Joshua M. Greene produces books and films about the Holocaust. His documentaries have been broadcast in twenty countries and his books translated into eight languages. He has taught Holocaust history for Fordham and Hofstra Universities.

Rena Finder was born in Krakow, Poland, and survived the Holocaust. Following the war, Rena moved to the United States with her husband, where she raised a family. Rena has dedicated herself to teaching about "history's darkest hour" and about the need to always speak out against injustice. She has shared her story with schools, colleges, and synagogues over the years, and she is a founding survivor of Facing History and Ourselves.

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5--8--Rena Finder, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, challenges readers to "stand up for the innocent" in her remarkable memoir. The beloved daughter of a medical supply salesman in Poland, Rena spent her early years surrounded by her close-knit extended family. In 1939, the German army invaded Poland. Conditions for Rena and her family quickly deteriorated as the Nazis placed increasing restrictions on members of the Jewish community, eventually sending them to the Krakow ghetto. Finder credits her wartime survival to Oskar Schindler, a businessman and member of the Nazi party, who was later immortalized in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. Despite his political affiliation, Schindler went to great lengths to protect Jewish workers at his factories. Finder openly depicts the horror of genocide: her grandparents being shot by the Nazis, the chilling murder of children at a Krakow orphanage, and the reality of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The book is a quick read and has a significant amount of action. It will be an easy sell to reluctant readers, particularly because of the slim size. Family photographs unearthed from Finder's childhood attic at the end of the war are included in the book. VERDICT A good purchase for all libraries. An important reminder about the Holocaust, especially for reluctant readers or children with an interest in World War II literature.--Jennifer Knight, North Olympic Library System, Port Angeles, WA

Kirkus Review

A straightforward and accessible Holocaust survivor's memoir shows Oskar Schindler through the eyes of a young person he saved.Before the Nazi invasion, Rena's Jewish family members are patriotic Poles; her uncle had been a decorated war hero. After the occupation, the everyday anti-Semitism 10-year-old Rena has faced all her life is replaced with something terrifyingly worse. The anti-Jewish laws start small: curfews, forbidding bank accounts, requiring hard-to-obtain work permits, deportations. The local non-Jewish Poles ignore the horrible treatment of their neighbors, looking away during mass arrests. The Nazis' crimes escalate until the Jews are locked in the Krakow ghetto, then eventually deported to concentration or death camps. Rena is nearly murdered as wellin fact, she is briefly taken to Auschwitz-Birkenaubut she manages to get herself and her mother on Oskar Schindler's list. Rena credits the quiet heroism of Emilie and Oskar Schindler with saving herself and nearly 1,200 Jews from Nazi atrocities. She recounts that Oskar's original goal in obtaining imprisoned Jewish workers for his munitions factory was saving money, but he and Emilie risked their lives and spent their fortune protecting their workers. Rena, now 90, is a Holocaust educator, and her matter-of-fact narration reflects this. She urges readers, "when you see a bully, do something. Go get help."A vital look at one complicated man's unwillingness to be complicit. (photos) (Memoir. 11-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



In October 1944, guards marched me, my mother, and the other Schindler women to a train station and shoved us into boxcars. Guards shut the big wooden doors, and the train left the station. There was no water, food, bathroom, or windows, or even much oxygen, but we believed the train was taking us to Oskar's new factory in Czechoslovakia. So we tolerated the overcrowding, hunger, and foul smells as best we could.After several hours, the train stopped. It was late at night. The doors opened, and a blinding spotlight hit our eyes. When our sight adjusted, we saw barbed-wire fences stretching in both directions. There was a terrible stench like rotting meat. German soldiers stood before us with rifles and dogs. I looked up and saw a sign that read AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU.We had heard rumors about this place. It was said to be a killing center where Jews were murdered in gas chambers, and their bodies burned in crematoria ovens. There must be a mistake, we told ourselves. We work for Oskar Schindler. Why were we in Auschwitz?"Everyone off the train!" guards yelled. " Raus! Quickly!" Excerpted from My Survival: A Girl on Schindler's List by Joshua M. Greene, Rena Finder All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.