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I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In…
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I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust (1997)

by Livia Bitton-Jackson

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I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Britton-Jackson. Epiphany Library section 12E: Teen, Nonfiction. This is a true story, a memoir by Jewish Czechoslovak Elli Friedmann, who at age 13, was sent to Auschwitz with her older brother, mother, and aunt. Czech lands were first occupied by Hungarians who arrested and tortured her father for being Jewish in 1943. He was eventually released. In 1944, the Nazis invaded and immediately began rounding up Jews, including Elli and her family. Her father was taken away immediately and later died. The rest of the family went through the separation process at Auschwitz, and the famous Dr. Mengele sent Elli’s frail aunt to one side (to the gas chambers). He stroked Elli’s golden hair in admiration of her Aryan looks, and told her to go with her mother and to tell authorities she was 16. Those younger than 16 were gassed. Her brother was sent to the men’s camp and Elli and her mother to the women’s camp.
She and her mother shared their food and drink. One thing I didn’t know was that there were no water taps in the camps, so prisoners in dire thirst drank water from mud puddles. Liquids were given just twice a day with the daily ration of what passed for bread and watery, foul soup.
They were sent to a work camp to level a mountain for a new camp building. This was done with pick and shovel. Those who rested on the job for even a minute were whipped. They were sent to the medieval city of Augsburg, a lovely change of scene, to work in a defense factory where they assembled intricate gadgets for use in bombers. Here they were treated slightly better than in Auschwitz, and had slightly better housing, showers and food. While still prisoners, their health improved and this stint probably kept them alive.
They eventually were returned to Auschwitz and as the Americans approached they were again herded onto hundreds of cattle cars and taken into Bavaria, exposed to the cold, with no food or water for days. Stopped at one station, Nazis machine-gunned many of the prisoners right through the wooden sides of the cars. The Americans finally came upon this train of dead and dying skeletal people. It was quite a shock to see the pitiful condition of these wraiths.
While her father was found to have died, Elli, her mother and brother emigrated to America, connecting with relatives already established in Brooklyn. Elli was able to attend NYU, becoming a professor of history at CUNY for 37 years (her dream had been to become a teacher). This harrowing story gives a detailed account of what happened not just to her but to many other innocent people. It is very hard to dredge up bitter and terrible memories such as these, but Elli must have been incredibly resilient mentally and spiritually to write such a memoir. It is an important milestone in Holocaust memoirs along with The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night Trilogy, both of which are in our library.
Her other books that chronicle her life in America are Hello, America and My Bridges of Hope. A more recent book and film about life during the Holocaust is The Book Thief by Martin Zusak. Both are excellent. I can’t understand why the film had lackluster reviews. The performances of foster parents Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are vivid. French-Canadian Sophie Nélisse plays the title role of a German foster child who learns to love books. It is a touching, heartfelt, beautifully realized film recreation of a mesmerizing book. ( )
  Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Mar 13, 2014 |
I wouldn't state that this was one of my favorite books that I have read recently about the Holocaust, but I would state it is the one that was able to draw out some emotions in myself. It reminded me of some of my own experiences in life, which helped me to understand this particular era in a more profound way than I had before reading it. I had to ultimately realize that the writing style of this book was geared towards a younger audience than myself because that was my main gripe with it that it felt like she was dumbing down certain aspects of her story and also she ended a lot of chapters overly dramatically, which caused one to question how she would deal with the tragedies she was sure to face later on in the book since one is usually aware that this is about the Holocaust and those horrible events.

While I didn't totally appreciate this particular book I do find myself wanting to read her other two books that deal with her life after this period. I feel that it would be fascinating to know what happened to her once she left the camp and also when she came to America. I am sure she had a vastly different perspective than we have currently in our society, so those will be interesting to read. This book is a good lead into those two other books, since not many books about the Holocaust deal with the effects of after it.

I believe Livia Bitton-Jackson created a book that would also be good for teachers that are trying to help students learn about this time period because the book contains two separate appendixes that are timelines. The first timeline is of the events in her own individual life and the second is a timeline of the events in World War 2. Then after these timelines there is a glossary of the terms that she uses in the book. The timelines specifically feel like a great educational resource because a teacher can utilize these to show how certain events in Bitton-Jackson's life goes against what is happening in the war at that particular point. I felt that this would be a great tool for educators. ( )
  EricPatterson | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book is definitely for an older audience (ages 14 and up) though the reading level is grade 5. The story of Elli L. Friedmann takes your breath away. It is a graphic and raw memoir told in the present-tense. Elli is 13 and experiences the Nazi invasion in Hungary in 1944. It is a year of torture, death and forced labor for Elli and her mom and brother. Luckily, they are liberated and come to the United States a year later. I like the way that Bitton-Jackson (who is also Elli) always has hope, despite the awful things she witnesses.

This would be an excellent text to use during a history lesson about the holocaust. ( )
  melissadorish | Dec 7, 2012 |
My realation to the Holocaust is what made me want to read this book. Q5P5 AHS/Mary N.
  edspicer | Dec 4, 2011 |
A graphic narrative describes what happens to a 13-year-old Jewish girl when the Nazis invade Hungary in 1944. Includes a brief chronology of the Holocaust. The author describes her experiences during World War II when she and her family were sent to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. ( )
  MissBoyer3 | Sep 4, 2011 |
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Dedicated to the children of Israel who, unsung and unacclaimed, risk their lives every day just by traveling to school on the roads of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, for the sake of a secure peace in Israel - the only guarantee that a Holocaust will never happen again.
LJCRS Book Fair Selection 5758
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I dream of enrolling in the prep school in Budapest, the capital city.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689823959, Mass Market Paperback)

The author, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz as a teenager, describes her terrible experiences as one of the camp's few adolescent inmates and the miraculous twists of fates that enabled her to survive.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:41 -0400)

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The author describes her experiences during World War II when she and her family were sent to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

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