Title: Anna: A Teenager on the Run
Author: Anna Podgajecki
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Memoirs, War
Dates read: 2nd February – 23rd April 2021
Format: eBook, Novel
Publisher: Amberly Publishing
5th sentence, 74th page: The unfinished building had two giant windows facing the yard where the murderers were standing, but above me there was an attic.
Part of a new Holocaust remembrance series of important testimonies and memoirs from the unique collections of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre.
Anna Podgajecki was born in Korzec, on the Polish–Russian border. As life for the Jews became steadily worse, Anna’s parents insisted that she, the oldest of their seven children, try to escape, survive and report to the world on the atrocities that were taking place.
For three years Anna lived in constant fear of discovery. She wandered from place to place and found work as a translator, a housekeeper and finally a nurse on the Russian front. Through luck, good timing, personal charm, a talent for languages and her special beauty, she was able to avoid death.
Anna’s reflections on her escape and survival are both remarkable and touching, arousing our curiosity about the human instinct to survive, despite all odds.
This novel is fucking brutal and heartbreaking. In a way that I can’t even begin to describe. It is just…. Wow. Not for the faint of heart. And even difficult for people with a strong spine. It took me forever to get through because I could honestly read a maximum of three chapters in one hit before I started getting dragged into a really dark place. Which, honestly, is kind of exactly what this story should be doing. After all, it’s about the holocaust.
I’ve read a few stories about World War II and the holocaust. And even accounts of other wars. But this is most definitely the most brutal I’ve read. Other stories offer an almost sense of hope, and you can see where certain aspects of the tale are kind of glossed over. That is not the case with Anna’s writing (I can’t even use her last name like I do with many other reviews because of the honesty). Anna takes you right into the heart of her heartbreak and horror. And she leaves no stone unturned. There is zero glossing over and nothing, and I mean nothing, is hidden.
This tale doesn’t just talk about what Anna experienced to survive as a Jew in WWII, but it also talks of the aftermath. After all, even though the war was over and occupation ended, there were (and still are) many scars and divisions that were left behind. It took her a long time to be able to feel safe even admitting that she was a Jew – even though technically she could.
Even writing this review, I can feel that uncomfortable swelling in my chest that was my companion throughout this whole story. Reading a war memoir should never be comfortable. But the horrors that are recounted in this writing… I just don’t have the words.
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