Among millions of Holocaust victims sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau in 1944, Priska, Rachel, and Anka each passed through its infamous gates with a secret. Strangers to each other, they were newly pregnant, and facing an uncertain fate without their husbands. Alone, scared, and with so many loved ones already lost to the Nazis, these young women were privately determined to hold on to all they had left: their lives, and those of their unborn babies.
That the gas chambers ran out of Zyklon-B just after the babies were born, before they and their mothers could be exterminated, is just one of several miracles that allowed them all to survive and rebuild their lives after World War II. Born Survivors follows the mothers' incredible journey - first to Auschwitz, where they each came under the murderous scrutiny of Dr. Josef Mengele; then to a German slave labour camp where, half-starved and almost worked to death, they struggled to conceal their condition; and finally, as the Allies closed in, their hellish 17-day train journey with thousands of other prisoners to the Mauthausen death camp in Austria. Hundreds died along the way but the courage and kindness of strangers, including guards and civilians, helped save these women and their children.
Sixty-five years later, the three 'miracle babies' met for the first time at Mauthausen for the anniversary of the liberation that ultimately saved them. United by their remarkable experiences of survival against all odds, they now consider each other "siblings of the heart." In Born Survivors, Wendy Holden brings all three stories together for the first time to mark their seventieth birthdays and the seventieth anniversary of the ending of the war.
A heart-stopping account of how three mothers and their newborns fought to survive the Holocaust, Born Survivors is also a life-affirming celebration of our capacity to care and to love amid inconceivable cruelty.Reseña del editor:
Born Survivors is the story of three pregnant Jewish women, who all escaped death and the horrors of Auschwitz towards the end of the second world war by hiding their condition. Forced instead into slave labour at an armaments factory, the women - none of whom knew each other - were eventually sent on an horrendous mass-transport to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, certain that death awaited them.
It was during this 17-day ordeal - which killed approximately half of the 1000 prisoners who began the journey - that the women each gave birth. None of the mothers weighed much more than 5 stone, while none of their infants weighed more than 3 pounds at birth. But against all these odds, and with the help of their fellow travellers, the generosity of the people of the towns and villages they passed through, and a handful of sympathetic guards, the mothers and their babies survived the final days of the war.
The mothers and their children began new lives in different corners of the world, before the children discovered each other and the miracle births they all shared, at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Mauthausen. Unsurprisingly, they formed an instant and intense bond, and are now ready to tell their remarkable stories.
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