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Sala's Gift
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About the Author

Ann Kirschner is University Dean of Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. She began her career as a lecturer in Victorian literature at Princeton University, where she had earned a Ph.D. in English. A writer and contributor to a variety of newspapers and other publications, she has built a career as an entrepreneur in media and technology. She lives with her family in New York City, a short drive from her mother's home.

Reviews

This moving account illuminates a little-known aspect of the Holocaust: Organization Schmelt, in which Jewish leaders supplied slave labor to the Germans for the war effort. In 1940, 16-year-old Sala Garncarz, a young Polish Jew (and the author's mother), went to work in a Schmelt labor camp in place of her frail older sister, Raizel, who had been ordered there for six weeks by the local Jewish Council. But six weeks stretched into five years. Sala worked at seven German, Polish and Czech camps until she was liberated by Russian soldiers. In 1999 Sala shared with the author the box of letters that she had written and received during this period . Sala survived by her wits and the protection of Ala Gertner, an older woman who was later hanged for participating in an uprising at Auschwitz. Sala's correspondence with Ala after the latter left the work camp, and the letters she exchanged with Raizel and other family members and friends are heartrending testimony to the extreme suffering of Polish Jews. After the war, Sala married an American soldier and immigrated to the U.S. Kirschner, president of a management consulting company, has skillfully crafted her mother's documents, interspersed with a powerful and informed narrative. 16 pages of photos. (Nov. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Kirschner allows her mother's poignant story to emerge from these heartbreaking missives, filling in the gaps with a dignified, quietly eloquent connecting narrative...[an] incredible journey through hell and back." -- Kirkus (starred review)
"Sala Kirschner spent five years as a slave in Nazi camps as a teen. Now her daughter has gathered Sala's vintage snapshots and the letters that reached her in the camps into a moving volume." -- People
"Evidence of humanity in the face of terrible conditions and of the religious faith and ritual that persisted despite the Nazi campaign to eliminate the Jews." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Sala's unique, stirring end-of-life gift are the letters and photos she received from her sister Raizel when Sala was a slave laborer.... A touching, interesting, and valuable history, one in which the personalities of the principals shine through the wretchedness." -- Jewish Book World

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