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Rena's Promise: Two Sisters in Auschwitz by…

Rena's Promise: Two Sisters in Auschwitz (original 1995; edition 2011)

by Rena Kornreich Gelissen, Heather Dune Macadam

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2351149,137 (4.54)13
Title:Rena's Promise: Two Sisters in Auschwitz
Authors:Rena Kornreich Gelissen
Other authors:Heather Dune Macadam
Info:Beacon Press (2011), Edition: Kindle Edition, Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:memoir, ebook, history, civil rights, nonfiction, war, holocaust

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Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Rena Kornreich Gelissen (1995)



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rena and Danka were Polish Jews that spent their childhood in a loving home. In 1942, however, things changed for the worse. Both sisters found themselves in concentration camps with very little food, exposed to the elements, and living in substandard conditions. It is hard to put into words the horrible atrocities that they saw and lived each day. They were tortured daily, but somehow mustered up the will to live. Eventually they were rescued and able to lead healthy, normal lives, but Rena still felt compelled to tell her story.

As I read this book, I was absolutely stunned by the descriptions of her life in the concentration camps. There were times that the sentences were hard to read. I often paged to the end of the book trying to get a glimpse of the words that describe their freedom or portrayed some sort of happiness outside the fences of the camps. I would return to where I left off and continue reading with admiration of Rena and her sister and their will to live. As I read, I often thought about my life and how lucky I have been. I appreciates never having to go hungry, freeze, work manual labor with no food or water with no time to catch my breath. I couldn't even imagine seeing the torture and death around me on a daily basis. What a powerful memoir! I highly recommend this book to anyone. Not only is it full of history, but it is inspirational and thought provoking. ( )
  KWROLSEN | Mar 29, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wow, this is quite an interesting story.
From Rena's earliest memories of a happy childhood, to the increasing horrors as a Polish Jew after the Nazi's took control, to the traumas of Auschwitz, and finally to the rescue and eventual emigration, this story is a heart-wrenching page turner. Some moments seem impossibly coincidental, and few are happy. Definitely a different sort of Holocaust memoir, and definitely worth spending some time with it. ( )
  Radella | Mar 23, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I devoured this book. I hate to think about the horrific things that concentration camps were, but I had to keep reading about what Rena and her friends experienced there. It seems like it has to be fake, but then I have to remind myself that this was real and people actually had to live through these things.
I appreciate the numerous mentions of kindness and charity amidst the conditions they were in and the gratefulness that Rena had for all of these actions that helped keep her alive. It makes me want to do something to help others in dire need.
I appreciated the footnotes, too, to give me an even better sense of the timeline and people. I'm so glad I got to read this book. ( )
  emily.ann | Mar 17, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

[Rena's Promise] by [[Rena Kornreich Gelissen]] and [[Heather Dune Macadam]]

This is an expanded edition of a memoir that was initially released in 1995. New information and verifications have been added, as much more information is available now.

Rena Kornreich was among the first registered transport of Jewish women to Auschwitz (998 women). She was taken there in 1942, at the age of 21, her sister Danka soon followed. They had been illegally in Slovakia (they were Polish), but Rena feared what would happen to the people harboring her and turned herself in. Danka followed her example, feeling they should stay together. Both had been fooled as to what life in the camp would entail.

They survived over three years in the camp, including the death march to Ravensbrück. Rena did everything in her power to keep her sister's spirits up, and promised that they would get out. She was resourceful and wise beyond her years, and while her sister came first, she helped others as much as she could, and would not directly harm anyone just to live.

The book is done extremely well. Macadam recorded Rena's story and manages to capture the directness of it without sacrificing readability or quality of writing. The sense of how our memories fracture and compartmentalize and connect is preserved, and footnotes let you know the precise dates of events Rena describes. Even though you know that she and Danka survive, it's a book it's a book you don't want to put down. Rena seems to have been one of those people who is liked by everyone, and the reasons for that come through, I think.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
1 vote mabith | Mar 15, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When the preface makes you cry you know it's going to be a good book.

I don't have words eloquent enough to describe and praise this book. I know I couldn't put it down. Once I started, I was pulled into the story with my heart in my mouth waiting for what was going to happen next. I dreaded each turn of the page because I didn't want to witness any further atrocities or horror these women had to endure, and yet I longed to know what happened next because it was a story of hope and love. I think it helps that you know the heroines are going to survive.

The strength and vivacity of the women in this book is amazing. Their will to live is a lesson to everyone. If they could get through Auschwitz, people today can get through their problems that are so trivial in comparison.

That any of the women could have faith in humanity after their ordeal is astounding. They suffered daily at the hands of the absolute worst of humanity. The captors were, in truth, everything they called their captives and worse. However, there were beacons of light and hope strewn among the filth. Not all the captors were completely depraved.

Everyone should have to read this book. The lessons it teaches about all aspects of humanity, good and bad, are invaluable. We must never forget. ( )
  808anela | Mar 14, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rena Kornreich Gelissenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Macadam, Heather DuneAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Human beings are more alike than we are unalike.

And no human being can be more human than another.

-Maja Angelou

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.

The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself...

-Leviticus 19:33-34
Dear Mama and Papa:

This book is for you. For fifty years I've been telling you this story in my mind. Now it's finally written down and I won't have to tell it anymore.

-Love, Rena

And for Danka:

Without you there would be no story.
First words
It is a crisp Saturday morning in January, and my car wends its way from the foothills of North Carolina toward where the Blue Ridge Mountains crest a blue-gray horizon, like waves caught in time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807070718, Paperback)

Sent to Auschwitz on the first Jewish transport, Rena Kornreich survived the Nazi death camps for over three years. While there she was reunited with her sister Danka. Each day became a struggle to fulfill the promise Rena made to her mother when the family was forced to split apart--a promise to take care of her sister.

One of the few Holocaust memoirs about the lives of women in the camps, Rena's Promise is a compelling story of the fleeting human connections that fostered determination and made survival a possibility. From the bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters, to the links between prisoners, and even prisoners and guards, Rena's Promise reminds us of the humanity and hope that survives inordinate inhumanity.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Rena's Promise is the extraordinary memoir of a young woman from Poland who survived the Nazi death camps for more than three years. Sent on the first Jewish transport to Auschwitz, Rena Kornreich is soon reunited with her sister Danka in the camp. Each day becomes a struggle to fulfill the promise Rena made to her mother when the family was forced to split apart - a promise to take care of her sister. Rena tells her story of life in the camps with relentless sobriety. But it is not without hope, for what emerges through the horror is a humanity stripped to its essential connections - the bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters, men and women prisoners, even prisoners and guards. Through these connections, Rena survives each day with the deep conviction that she and her sister must see the next.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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