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I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

PW's starred review called this memoir, of a 13-year-old Hungarian Jewish girl's incarceration in Auschwitz, "an exceptional story, exceptionally well told." Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 8^-12. In a graphic present-tense narrative, this Holocaust memoir describes what happens to a Jewish girl who is 13 when the Nazis invade Hungary in 1944. She tells of a year of roundups, transports, selections, camps, torture, forced labor, and shootings, then of liberation and the return of a few. For those who have read Leitner's stark The Big Lie (1992), this is a much more detailed account, with the same authority of a personal witness. Horrifying as her experience is, she doesn't dwell on the atrocities. There is hope here. Unlike many adult survivor stories, this does not show the victims losing their humanity. The teenager and her mother help each other survive; they save each other from the gas chambers. Even in the slaughter of the cattle trucks strafed by machine-gun fire, "words of comfort emerge from every corner." The occasional overwriting about "drowning in a morass of pain and helplessness" is unfortunate. The facts need no rhetoric. On every page they express her intimate experience. After the war, the teenager finds her brother, hears how her father died. She wonders whether she dare enjoy the luxury of being a girl, of "having hair." A final brief chronology of the Holocaust adds to the value of this title for curriculum use with older readers. Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689823959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689823954
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to Auschwitz. They were liberated in 1945 and came to the United States on a refugee boat in 1951. She received a PhD in Hebrew culture and Jewish history from New York University. Dr. Bitton-Jackson has been a professor of history at City University of New York for thirty-seven years. Her previous books include Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, which received the Christopher Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and the Jewish Heritage Award. Dr. Bitton-Jackson lives in Israel with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on January 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you've read a lot of books about the Shoah, sometimes it seems like they all start to sound the same, only with different names and locations, but most good memorable books and memoirs on the subject have things setting them apart. This book, for example, is the only one I can remember having read so far where the subject (Elli) went through the camps with her mother; all of the other books I've read so far have been about siblings or friends or cousins sticking together in the camps. Sadly, there aren't more books about the mother-daughter relationship in the camps because most of the girls who went there with their mothers were immediately separated from them.

Besides having the little-represented angle of how a mother and daughter supported and loved one another in the camps (particularly after Elli's mother has her injury), there are also other things in here making it a unique story. The family in this book is also smaller than most of the other families in books about the Shoah, with only Elli, her brother, their parents, and their aunt, as opposed to large families with several sisters or brothers. There are also many details about everything that happened to them in the various places they were in, instead of just giving vague descriptions of what they went through or just focusing on how they stuck together instead of dwelling on the specifics of what they went through. It's definite that Elli and her mother had their chances for survival improved because they were selected for the transport to the factory in Augsburg, where they got better food and treatment as opposed to being forced to do the type of things they did in Plaszow.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 10, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read a lot of books about the holocaust, and I especially like to read memoirs written by survivors of the Holocaust. This is one such memoir that is compelling and heartbreaking in the descriptions of the horrors suffered by the writer and her family during the Holocaust. Initially, we witness the author's desire to be loved and praised by her mother, her ambition to be a poet, and her descriptions of simple, everyday life in her little village...later, we are led on a horrific journey beginning with the restrictions imposed upon the Jews in the village, the deportation of Elli's[ the author] father to a labor camp in Hungary, and finally Elli's own deportation together with her mother and brother to Auschwitz...their journey of terror doesn't end at Auschwitz for Elli finds herself and her mother constantly battling for survival under the most deplorable conditions, being forced to endure unimaginable suffering and degradation, being shunted from one concentration camp to another, and finally liberation. Elli's journey is one of horror, hope, faith and resilience, and truly inspiring.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on December 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As an avid reader of material regarding the Holocaust and WWII, I was delighted to find this book at a used book store. "I Have Lived A Thousand Years" offers an interesting perspective on the events of the Holocaust. Written by Livia Bitton-Jackson as an adult, the author transports herself back to her teenage years when her world was forever shattered by Nazi designs.

The author, born Elli Friedmann, was thirteen years old when the Nazis invaded Hungary and turned her world upside down. She succinctly details the loss of freedom Jews suffered at the hands of their invaders before they were enslaved in first the ghetto, with concentration camps soon to follow. Elli is miraculously lucky in the fact that she is able to stay with her mother her entire time in the camps; in fact, it is a miracle that she was selected to live at all (as she was only chosen for her golden braids). Bitton-Jackson tells with grave beauty and pain the trials and small triumphs that populated her young world until liberation finally came.

"I Have Lived A Thousand Years" is a bittersweet chronicle of the power of faith and perseverance. The author never lost hope that she would somehow survive the horrors that she witnessed day after day. Her testament is a worthy addition to the literature of the Holocaust, and one that younger readers will be able to identify with.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think that I Have Lived A Thousand Years was the best book I've ever read! It tells of Elli's experences in a consontration camp- her pain, her joy, and, most of all, her hope. I never knew how horrible the Nazis were to the Jews before I read this book. Now I'm reading more and more books on the Holocaust, but I think that this book is the best ever! It makes you cry, laugh, and feel like you never want the book to end all at once!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dana on June 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Livia Bitton-Jackson's I Have Lived a Thousand Years is her story of life during WWII and the holocaust. Livia, known as Elli, was 13 years old when her family was forced out of their home and sent to Auschwitz. Her brother and father were sent to the male side of the camp, and Livia and her mother were sent to the female side. Because Livia was 13 years old, and still a child, she would have been sent to the gas chambers. But an officer took a liking to Elli's blonde hair, told her to lie and say she was 16, and led her to the path towards the camp, and away from the gas chambers.

Throughout her time at the camp, she and her mother kept each other's strengths up, even through the injury that would permanently disable her mother. They suffered through working in pits of feces, eating congealed soup and drinking from a small, murky water pond. They survived a decimation, and even found Bubi, Elli's brother.

When they found Bubi, they made a vow to stay together and became stronger. They waited until liberation day, but right before they were to be liberated, the SS guards loaded them into cattle cars and in hopes of taking them, shooting them all, and getting rid of the bodies so that the Americans had no way of finding the inmates.

Elli, her mother, and Bubi were all able to survive the cattle cars, the shooting, and made it to see liberation. They returned to their village in hope of hearing good news about Elli's father, but unfortunately, he didn't make it through the war. They have a mourning period and then contact all the people they know in America in hopes of being able to migrate there.

They eventually gain their visas and when Elli sees the beautiful statue of Liberty, she knows that she is home and can start rebuilding her life.
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