Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered

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Feminist Press at CUNY, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 216 pages
Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. Kluger's story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust.

Interwoven with blunt, unsparing observations of childhood and nuanced reflections of an adult who has spent a lifetime thinking about the Holocaust, Still Alive rejects all easy assumptions about history, both political and personal. Whether describing the abuse she met at her own mother's hand, the life-saving generosity of a woman SS aide in Auschwitz, the foibles and prejudices of Allied liberators, or the cold shoulder offered by her relatives when she and her mother arrived as refugees in New York, Kluger sees and names an unexpected reality which has little to do with conventional wisdom or morality tales.

Still Alive is a memoir of the pursuit of selfhood against all odds, a fiercely bittersweet coming-of-age story in which the protagonist must learn never to rely on comforting assumptions, but always to seek her own truth.

 

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Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered

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"How can I keep my readers from feeling good about the obvious drift of my story away from the gas chambers and the killing fields and towards the postwar period, where prosperity beckons?" This ... Read full review

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One of the best holocaust memoirs ever written: poignant, inspiring, saddening, enlightening and multi-layered. Kluger does not merely tell an amazing, perceptive story of survival against all odds, she also makes you think.

Contents

Going on Living
9
VIENNA
13
THE CAMPS
61
GHETTO
70
DEATH CAMP
89
FORCED LABOR CAMP
113
GERMANY
133
ESCAPE
135
A DEFEATED COUNTRY
150
NEW YORK
171
EPILOGUE
203
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Ruth Kluger (1931-2020) was a literary scholar, memoirist, and a professor emerita of German at the University of California, Irvine. She previously taught at Princeton University and the University of Virginia, and was a guest professor in Gottingen, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe. As the author of five books of literary criticism, she also studied English literature, obtained a master's degree in 1952, and a PhD in 1967. Dr. Kluger survived internment at Auschwitz, fleeing a death march in 1945, eventually immigrating to New York, and beginning her lifelong work in academia and writing. After an accident-related days-long coma, Dr. Kluger was moved to recall long-repressed memories of the war, which served as the impetus for her memoir, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered.

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