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All But My Life: A Memoir Paperback – March 31, 1995

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Editorial Reviews


"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

About the Author

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. Kurt and Gerda are the authors of The Hours After: Letters of Love and Longing in War's Aftermath, published by St. Martin's Press. 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Expanded edition (March 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809015803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809015801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (349 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on July 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
On the hot June day that Gerda Weissmann left her home for the last time, her father insisted that she wear her hiking boots. Gerda resisted, but an unspoken plea in her father's eye convinced her to strap them on. During a death march from January through April of 1945, those boots saved Gerda Weissmann's life. Many other women died of cold and starvation, but most fell for simple lack of footwear. Her camp sister, with whom she survived the worst horrors in several concentration and slave labor camps, died of exhaustion at a water pump minutes after American liberators freed the women from the march.

Ms. Klein's tale about her boots, screened at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, led me to her book. I wanted to know every detail --- although, over the years, I have been privileged to hear many personal accounts from Holocaust survivors I know. Too many still cannot not speak about what they lived through. Millions never had the chance at all. By itself, the silence of the majority makes Ms. Klein's testimony priceless, like every other personal Holocaust chronicle. So does her reminder not to take anything for granted. So does her gem of a soul.

--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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Format: Paperback
I purchased ALL BUT MT LIFE from Gerda when she came to Forest Hills NY to promote her book, the first edition. I felt honored to meet her; I will never forget her. I cried several times while reading the book the first time and cried many times while reading the book, for the second time. It took my breath away in more ways than one. It is really a powerful piece of work. It's disturbing but intrinsically inspiring.

I feel a special connection to Gerda, because she and I come from the same part of Poland. We were raised in a similar cultural environment. Our parents' homes were shrines of devotion to the family. The intense closeness of Gerda's family warmed my heart; it broke my heart while reading how the Germans ripped Gerda's family apart.

I am a Holocaust survivor. In the last several years, I have told my life story at
650 different venues in the State of Oregon and Washington. ALL BUT MY LIFE is one of the books that I recommend to all my life audiences. It is a classic among Holocaust survivors' memoirs. It is brilliantly written. This inspirational book it is sprinkled with faith and hope; it is gripping and fascinating. There are many lessons to be learned from this book. It is not just a chapter in history; it gives the reader of today a glance into the old country where respect for parents and their values had been adhered to. When the Germans ordered Gerda to report for deportation, her father told her to take along her boots. This was spring time and it did not sound logical to take boots with her. The deportees expected to be sent to forced labor camps for a short time. However Gerda did take the boots, because in those days a child just obeyed a father's requests.
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97 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Denise Bentley on June 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
These lasts words, Gerda Weissmann hears ring out over the crowd of Jews as they are herded away like cattle to an uncertain end. The person shouting them is her mother who is about to be ripped from her life. The Nazi's have taken everything she holds dear, family, home, friends and now she will fight for all that remains, her life and dignity.
This book is a remarkable slice of time and life, written by a true survivor who lived through the times that tried men's souls. As she wades through the atrocities of a Nazi occupation, concentration camps, and a death march amidst freezing temperatures, to be liberated by her one true love, she is true to her mother's request. This is an amazing story that will stay a part of you forever. I am astonished at her strength of spirit and her continued belief in the future. A book doesn't get much better than this. Kelsana 6/19/01
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Before reading this book I had visited Dachau, a labor camp in the south of Germany. I was shocked and appalled by what I heard went on in this camp, but until I read this book I never fully understood what it would be like for someone my own age living in a camp such as this one. The things she had to deal with just aren't what a girl my age should be dealing with, but obviously Gerda had no choice. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to watch my family be torn apart, or watch my friends slowly drop like flies as the Germans worked them to the bone. Honestly, no one can relate to what these people went through.

Now, after reading this book, I realized how I take many things for granted, like food that my parents put on my plate every night. I mean I never even thought of a life without it, and even my family itself. What would I do without them, they give me so much support in my everyday life. It is unfortunate that Gerda wasn't able to be with them during such a rough time like the holocaust. She may have had her good friends from Bielitz but that could never fill the "holes" of missing family members.

I would recommend this book to anyone, because we can all learn a lesson for this woman. You will laugh and cry, and from the first page you will be drawn in by her descriptions and all her experiences during the holocaust that you will just have to read it cover to cover.
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