LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
The whole of my past is like a film tightly rolled up and hidden in a drawer in the dimness of my memory. Only if you happen to touch this roll, the whole film unwinds and shows individual frames. Some of the images are faded, some are wiped out. But they are still there. Sometimes it seems to me that it is all still happening, that we are still living in that time. That is why I have not been able to live as others do. Like those who went out into the wide world and started everything from the very beginning. They know how to enjoy a car, a flat, the comforts of everyday life. Or even to enjoy life itself. It doesn't matter, certainly not now. What is important to my story is what happened then. What a normal day was like. The everyday life of a courier girl. Adina was twenty-two years old, recently married, and studying to be a doctor when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. During the three week siege of Warsaw, Adina begins her first phase of war work by volunteering at a first aid outpost. After the Soviet invasion and the capitulation of Warsaw, Adina escapes to Lvov, naively thinking to resume her medical studies. By the end of the year, ghettos are being formed and warned that she is on a list of those to be deported to the Gulags, Adina narrowly escapes back to Warsaw. Imprisoned in the ghetto, Adina continues to volunteer, now at a hospital for Jewish children. Desperately ill and starving children are brought to the hospital where tuberculosis and typhus wreck havoc. With few medicines and less food, there is little that the medical staff can do. Officially the daily food ration is 184 calories, but a daily dose of spirits gives the doctors just enough calories to stay on their feet. Then the deportations to Treblinka begin. Adina manages to survive, although the horrors of the hospital and the actions she was forced to take will haunt her for the rest of her life. She escapes the ghetto with false labor papers and begins the second phase of her war work, as a courier for one of the resistance groups, the ZOB. She arranges hiding places, distributes cash, provides medical care, arranges false documents, all at great risk to her life. During the Ghetto Uprising, Adina has to watch and listen as the ghetto burns and fighters are shot, yet remain calm and inconspicuous as she runs her errands. Then comes the Warsaw Uprising, in which over 150,000 civilians will be killed. Once again, Adina will escape death, but not her memories. Finally, at the age of 71, Adina decides to tell her story and writes this book. I think it admirable that the author shares her story at last, for the number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling. Stories not told now, will never be told, and another testimony will be lost. Yet I wish she had shared her story sooner, for as she admits herself, after so many years it is hard to keep things straight. Yes, many years have passed, many things have faded from my memory, and I don't really remember the sequence of events. That is why everything I write is so chaotic... It all happened—but when? I don't really remember. Only that it all took place in the period before the Warsaw Uprising. Despite the loose timeline and rambling style, Adina story is interesting and important. The images she describes of her work in the Children's Hospital will remain with me for a long time.