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Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered…

Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (1992)

by Ruth Klüger

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Uno sgurado inedito, quello di una bambina, che osserva il mondo del lager. ( )
  cloentrelibros | Aug 23, 2016 |
Like no other Holocaust memoir I've read before. The difference being Kluger does not suffer fools. She relates her experiences growing up in Austria and in the concentration camps, and after the war very directly. At times reading Still Alive felt like Kluger was observing and reporting on what had occurred to other people not to her.

But her bluntness and distance serve to do the opposite; highlight her pain and loss. A significant part of this memoir describes difficult relationships with her father and especially with her mother. In the adult Kluger there still lingers a bewildered and hurt aura of a little girl who loved her parents but felt her emotions were misunderstood and usually unreturned. She felt she could never totally trust her mother which resulted in her lifelong distrust and scepticism of people.

Smart, opinionated and starkly honest she survived with G-d directing her mother and other prisoners to help her. (I doubt Kluger would appreciate my bringing G-d into this because she is philosophically more humanistic in her belief that people alone are responsible for their lives.) Life taught her to be strong, resilient, and to move forward with her plans even if it meant disappointing others.

At first I was surprised by Kluger's brash writing. Continuing to read I came to appreciate and recognize her unique brand of frankness. Many Holocaust memoirs I've read are often restrained or toned-down but Kluger was having none of that. I'm sure some readers would feel her writing is unkind, discourteous, and harsh by her "saying" that not all Jews, including some of her relatives, were especially good, kind and sweet even prior to life becoming difficult for Jews, and certainly not during the war and the Holocaust. As a matter of fact, Kluger admits to being stunned when she receives aid from other prisoners.

This is Kluger's life and she wrote it according to her experiences, reactions and personality.

A strong, exceptional reading experience. ( )
  Bookish59 | Feb 9, 2016 |
A very different kind of Holocaust memoir. What I liked were Kluger's explorations and musings on memory, the structure, which doesn't follow a strict chronology, and the absolute honesty. What I didn't like were the boring fourth section set in New York (seemed tacked-on), and occasionally the tone. A lot of my students complained about how negative Kluger's tone is, and I see where they are coming from. She does tend to berate readers, visitors to concentration camp sites, politicians, and members of society for their sentimentalized visions of the Holocaust, a sentimentality without depth or understanding (there is something to be said for this, and I think it's probably most common in movies). But occasionally she crossed a line for me--I have visited Holocaust memorial sites to honor my family. It's not always about making ourselves feel better/superior. Still on the whole I did admire the book and would recommend it. ( )
  sansmerci | Sep 2, 2013 |
Ruth Klüger beschreibt ihr Leben als jüdisches Mädchen bzw. dann als Jugendliche in der Nazizeit. Die Befreiung und ihr Leben in Amerika. Die Zeit von 1938-42 in Wien, wo sie die Ausgrenzung der Juden vom öffentlichen Leben beschreibt. Ihr Vater und Bruder wurden schon früher deportiert und vergast. Sie sah sie nie wieder. Die Deportation nach Theresienstadt. Ein jüdisches Ghetto, das sich trotz widriger Verhältnisse von den Vernichtungslagern, wie Ausschwitz unterschied. Sie beschreibt ihre Zeit in Ausschwitz, die sie als die schrecklichste ihre Lebens bezeichnet. Sie war eigentlich dem Tod durch Vergasung geweiht, konnte durch eine falsche Altersangabe aber ihr Leben retten und wurde dann in das Arbeitslager Christianstadt deportiert. Sie beschreibt die Zeit des Einmarsches der Russen, Amerikaner und Engländer, wo sie in langen Märschen von einem Ort zum anderen getrieben wurden. Auf einem solchen Marsch flüchteten die Mutter, ein adoptiertes Mädchen und sie. Eine sehr gefährliche Zeit, die sie mit viel Glück und Geschick überlebten. Sie beschreibt die Ausreise nach New York, wo sie alles andere als willkommen waren. Sie lies sich später in Kalifornien nieder. Ein Land, wo viele ihre Schicksale zu vergessen versuchten, ein Land das nicht an die Vergangenheit erinnerte. Sie beschreibt ihre Rückkehr nach Deutschland und Wien, wo sie trotz allem Fortschritts dieser Städte, an die Vergangenheit erinnert wird. Begleitet werden ihre Beschreibungen durch ein schwieriges Verhältnis zu ihrer Mutter.
  shac | Jul 24, 2011 |
This is the story of Ruth Kluger's life. In 1942 at the age of 11 she was deported to a Nazi concentration camp with her mother; they would move to two other camps before the war ended. This book recounts a childhood spent in Nazi camps and Ruth's refusal to forget the past as an adult in America.
  antimuzak | Jan 25, 2007 |
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"In this memoir, Ruth Kluger presents the story of a life fully lived against all odds. Taking us into the experience of the Holocaust as few writers have before, she offers one of the most powerful accounts of the dark heart of the twentieth century - and of a reclaimed life beyond." "Swept up as a child in the events of the Nazi era, Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. At the age of seven, she found that she was no longer welcome to sit on the park benches of her beloved hometown; at eleven she was deported to the first in the series of concentration camps that would become the setting for her precarious coming-of-age." "On publication in Germany, Still Alive sparked renewed discussion about the Holocaust. It has since been hailed across Europe as a literary masterwork. Published here in English for the first time, it presents a personal voice emerging through and against history. In her tale of survival, Kluger offers us a model of self-determination and tells of a passage to freedom achieved through fierce adherence to inner truth. As Johannes Rau, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, has said, Kluger's work shows that "the single, unique human being matters, always and in every situation, that every life is unlike every other life, unalterably and irrevocably.""--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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