All But My Life

A Memoir

Gerda Weissmann Klein

Hill and Wang

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All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying journey.

Gerda's serene and idyllic childhood is shattered when Nazis march into Poland on September 3, 1939. Although the Weissmanns were permitted to live for a while in the basement of their home, they were eventually separated and sent to German labor camps. Over the next few years Gerda experienced the slow, inexorable stripping away of "all but her life." By the end of the war she had lost her parents, brother, home, possessions, and community; even the dear friends she made in the labor camps, with whom she had shared so many hardships, were dead.

Despite her horrifying experiences, Klein conveys great strength of spirit and faith in humanity. In the darkness of the camps, Gerda and her young friends manage to create a community of friendship and love. Although stripped of the essence of life, they were able to survive the barbarity of their captors. Gerda's beautifully written story gives an invaluable message to everyone. It introduces them to last century's terrible history of devastation and prejudice, yet offers them hope that the effects of hatred can be overcome.

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Book Excerpts

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All But My Life
Part OneChapter 1THERE IS A WATCH LYING ON THE GREEN CARPET OF THE LIVING room of my childhood. The hands seem to stand motionless at 9:10, freezing time when it happened. There would be a past only, the future uncertain, time had stopped for the present. Morning-9:10. That is all I am able to grasp. The hands of the watch are cruel. Slowly they blur into its face.I lift my eyes to the window. Everything looks unfamiliar, as in a dream. Several motorcycles roar down the street. The cyclists wear green-gray uniforms and I hear voices.

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Reviews

Praise for All But My Life

"Soul searching and human . . . A moving personal testament to courage."--Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times

"An unforgettable reading experience . . . All But My Life is one of the most beautifully written human documents I have ever read. In this respect it is as sensitive and 'disturbing' a story as is The Diary of Anne Frank."--Library Journal

"Gerda Weissmann Klein moves you, and not just because the story she can tell is so horrific. It is the passion with which she looked through the horror and found a heart-felt and basic goodness in humanity . . . All But My Life is filled with wonderful acts of decency and normalcy, even as she describes three years in labor camps and three months of a forced winter march from Germany to Czechoslovakia."--Royal Ford, The Boston Globe

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About the Author

Gerda Weissmann Klein

Gerda Weissmann Klein was born in Bielsko, Poland, in 1924, and now lives in Arizona with her husband, Kurt Klein, who as a U.S. Army lieutenant liberated Weissmann on May 7, 1945. The author of five books, she has received many awards and honorary degrees and has lectured throughout the country for the past forty-five years. One Survivor Remembers (a production of Home Box Office and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), winner of an Emmy Award and the Academy Award for documentary short subject, was based on All But My Life. She will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in early 2011.

Gerda Weissmann Klein

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Available Formats and Book Details

All But My Life
A Memoir
Gerda Weissmann Klein

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
March 1995
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466812420
ISBN10: 1466812427
256 pages
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
March 1995
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780809015801
ISBN10: 0809015803
5 5/16 x 8 inches, 272 pages
$15.95
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Hill and Wang

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