When the German armies conquered Poland at the outset of the Second World War, the fate of its Jews was sealed, although no one could possibly imagine the extent of the coming holocaust. The Nazi net closed slowly around the Jews of Poland, impoverishing them, demoralizing them, enslaving them, isolating them in ghettos and finally herding them into concentration camps. Million of Polish Jews were caught in the monstrous Nazi trap, while thousands more fled into hiding in the cities and the countryside. For the desperate fugitives life was always a continuous nightmare, with agonizing days and terror-filled nights, never knowing if the next day would bring starvation or discovery. "They Called Me Frau Anna" is the breathtaking account of one valiant Jewish woman and her struggle to save her two small children in the midst of the blazing inferno that was consuming her family and her people. With false identification papers, she wanders from town to town seeking shelter and food for herself and children, always in fear of discovery and betrayal. In episode after hair-rising episode, guided by an unmistakable hashgachah pratis, she manages to elude capture, only to find herself back on the street in search of a new hiding place. Finally, she finds refuge in Krakow as a housekeeper for Dr. Helmut Sopp, a high-ranking Nazi official who is eventually imprisoned as a war criminal. After earning the respect of Sopp ands his wife Toni, she is allowed to bring her children to stay with her, but her harrowing experiences continues, taking a new dimension as she must constantly deflect the suspicions of the numerous Nazis she comes into contact with in the course of her duties. Through all her tragedy and heartbreak, she finds in herself deep reservoirs of faith and fortitude that help her keep alive a tiny spark of hope and sanity in her darkest hours. "They Called Me Frau Anna" is the second volume in "The Holocaust Diaries," of which the highly acclaimed "Late Shadows" was the inaugural volume. In keeping with the theme of the collection, it is the personal statement of the survivor in whom the holocaust brought out profound spiritual qualities, who emerged from this terrible crucible victorious rather than crushed and defeated. All in all, it is a book permeated by the noble spirit of the author and the indomitable faith that helped her rise above the horrors of her experiences and emerge stronger and more inspired than ever before.
by Chana Marcus Banet
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