The Nazis Knew My Name: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Courage in Auschwitz

Atria. Nov. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781982181222. $27. MEMOIR
Hellinger’s (1918–2006) posthumously published firsthand account of surviving the Holocaust is heartbreakingly sad but also somehow hopeful. As a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher in 1942, Hellinger was deported from Slovakia and was on the second transport of Jewish people sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she would remain for three years. Here she recounts being put in charge of a cell block of hundreds of women by the SS and using her position to improve conditions and save as many lives as she could without drawing too much attention; as Hellinger recalls, she herself evaded death numerous times. She secretly wrote by hand, and rewrote on occasion, the story of her extraordinary life, and eventually had it produced as a slim book; it was Lee, Hellinger’s daughter, who turned it into the memoir we have today, complete with a glossary and extensive notes.
VERDICT Hellinger has written an important perspective of the Holocaust, of a kind that we rarely see. A standout memoir that will draw the interest of readers of World War II history and women’s memoirs or biographies.
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