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A Time to Speak [Paperback]

by Helen Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

October 27, 1997 0786704861 978-0786704866 2nd
A remarkable story of courage and endurance during the Holocaust. Helen Lewis, a young student of dance in Prague at the outbreak of World War II, was herded, like Madeleine Albright, into the Terezin ghetto, then deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Separated from her family, she struggled to live amidst the carnage of Hitler's Final Solution. How she did so, and what she did in order to survive, is a gripping story, told with wit, candor, and controlled anger.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This slender book is another worthy addition to the shelf of Holocaust memoirs. Lewis, a Czech Jewish dancer and choreographer, was living a pleasant life of the arts with her husband, Paul, when the Nazis annexed Czechoslovakia and introduced Germany's anti-Jewish laws. Lewis describes the rapid descent from middle-class comfort as she and her family and friends found themselves barred from most public accomodations, forced to wear the hated yellow star, placed under curfew, stripped of jobs and belongings (even pets), and finally transported to the ghetto of Terezin, a way station to the death camps. From her arrival at Terezin and later at Auschwitz to the end of the war, Lewis struggled with health problems that threatened to speed her to the gas chambers. Her talent as a dancer saved her life, attracting the eye of a brutal female camp commander. Much of what is here is not new, but Lewis's flat, dispassionate prose gives the book's grimmest moments an unholy power. This book is a useful reminder of what can happen if hatred runs unchecked in seemingly civilized societies.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Two women speak out in personal memoirs about their experiences during the Holocaust. Both led secure, assimilated Jewish lives before the war--Lewis in Prague and Bonin in Berlin. The coming of the Nazis shattered the worlds they knew forever. Lewis gives a vivid firsthand account of her life as a young married dancer in Prague. Her bliss ended the day German troops entered Prague (March 15, 1939). Lewis and her husband, Paul, were sent to the ghetto at Theresienstadt (or Terezin) along with the entire Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia. After Terezin came Auschwitz, where she was separated from her husband, who later died. She survived, in an almost surreal way, by using her skills to choreograph Coppelia for the commandant's Christmas party. After the war, Lewis remarried and became involved in dance again. Bonin's father told her for the first time that she and the family were Jewish in 1933, when she was 12. She escaped to Palestine, where she worked on a kibbutz as a pioneer; she went on to fight on the side of the British, based in Alexandria, Egypt. The narrative in this section of the book consists of letters to Bonin from her parents until the outbreak of the war and the diaries that she kept during the years she spent in the British Army, 1942-46. In 1947 she came to America, where she has been an academic. Both books are examples of extraordinary courage and defiance. Recommended for all libraries.
- Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 2nd edition (October 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786704861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786704866
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,635,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Time to Speak: Purchased at Amazon.com February 20, 2014
By dep
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very compelling book, to me a bit different than many of the other books I have read by survivors of the Holocaust. Helen Lewis and her family were from Trotnov, Czechoslovakia. As a young girl and the only child of her family, she led a comfortable, secure life. Tragically, her father died suddenly in 1934, changing forever the stability and security of her life. At six years old, after attending her first dance class, Helen decided she was going to be a dancer. After she left school, she moved to Prague to study towards that goal. In the spring of 1938, she married a young named Paul and also received her diploma from her dance school. Now she qualified as a dancer, choreographer, teacher. In 1939, Germany took over Czechoslovakia, changing Helen's world for ever. With a friend's help, in 1940 both Helen and her husband were issued visas for Shanghai. Both Helen and Paul had parents to look after so they refused the visas. Eventually, Helen, Paul, and their families were shipped to the Terezin Ghetto. Helen also suffered through Auschwitz and Stutthof before escaping to freedom. I thought this was a wonderful book, very positive. Through the entire book the feeling I got was of hope, which Helen never gave up on. A great read.
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