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In the Sewers of Lvov: A Heroic Story of Survival from the Holocaust Hardcover – September, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The author of All the King's Men here collects the memoirs of survivors from the Ukrainian city of Lvov and combines them with his own research. The result is a trying account of a group of Jews who spent 14 months in 1943-44 hiding in the city's sewer system. Twenty people, including two children and a pregnant woman, descend into their own Inferno--the ledges, caverns, and underground rivers of the catacombs beneath the city streets. How they coped with the feces, the rats, the darkness, the deaths of half their numbers, even with delivery and infanticide, makes cruel reading. Marshall dedicates this book to the memory of Leopold Socha, a former criminal who became a Ukrainian sewer worker and made it his life's atonement to save a few Jews out of the murdered millions. Tragically, soon after he was able to bring "his Jews" back to daylight, Socha was killed in an accident.
- Gerda Haas, Holocaust Human Rights Ctr. of Maine
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A stirring tale of survival against overwhelming odds, based on oral and written testimony and recounted with novelistic intensity by documentary filmmaker Marshall. Recording unforgettable characters and startling scenes, Marshall explains how a small group of Jews managed to escape the liquidation of the Lvov ghetto by hiding within the city's elaborate sewer system. Living for over a year amid rats, filth, and the constant pounding of rushing water, the ten survivors--from an initial 21--find an unlikely savior in a seemingly ordinary Polish sewer worker made extraordinary by his devotion to the dangerous task he embraces as his ``mission.'' Also a worthy counterpart to his varied flock--including a beautiful, pregnant widow, an energetic Hasid, and two young children--is a daring former black-marketeer who actually smuggles himself into the local forced-labor camp in an attempt to rescue the sister of the woman he loves. Relying on straightforward accumulation of day-to-day detail (crawling through 16-inch pipes to get water; picking off each day's lice; coping with dysentery and spoiled food), heightened by chilling vignettes (the camp commandant having children ``thrown into the air while he took aim and shot at them from the veranda''; mothers wordlessly jumping off roofs after their children are taken away), the narrative renders its nightmare world in brilliantly sensory and emotional terms. Unrelenting and powerful: a notable addition to the crowded field of Holocaust studies. (Eight page photo insert--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st American ed edition (September 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684193205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684193205
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on April 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a powerful and moving testimony to both the goodness and evilness found in mankind. Marshall has written a book that is profound, while at the same time simple. I found myself wanting to know these people who had survived such an inhumane ordeal. When I come to the end of a book and find myself wishing it would go on and on, I know I have found a winner. In the Sewers of Lvov is that kind of book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Veronica White on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having recently seen the movie "In Darkness" and noting that it was based on 2 books, I purchased both, namely "The Girl in the Green Sweater" and this book. Reading these books makes one realise how fortunate one was to be born at the end of 1945 and never to have experienced the horror and fear that these people experienced. These are stories that everyone needs to hear/read about as they not only tell of the people in the sewers spirit of survival and endurance but also the courage and risk that others took to help and save them.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Linda C. Davis on November 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Astonishing story of the lengths to which people were forced to go in order to survive the holocaust. A hopeful story of the unexpected kindness of one man who by society's estimation was a criminal. This story of the sewers is a rather obscure piece but it is a vital addition to any Holocaust library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk on January 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Before the war the small town of Gdow, the nearest large community to my grandfather's farm, had a sizeable number of Jews living in it. My father used to talk about them; they ran some of the shops and inns, they traded with his parents, he went to school with them (they gave him their chicken sandwiches and he gave them his pork kielbasa ones). One of these Jews, a trader called Samuel, often came round to the farm and would chat with my grandparents. He would make complimentary comments about my grandmother's Bigos, hinting at being given a bowl. She would joke with him and warn him that the Rabbi would have something to say if he knew he was eating pork... and he would joke back. When the Germans came Samuel came to see my grandfather and asked him to help him. My grandfather said, "I can hide you for three days but no longer, if the Germans find out then they'll not only kill me but my wife and children as well." Samuel replied that he would not impose himself on his good friends but would find another way of surviving.
He didn't. He and all the Jews of Gdow; shopkeepers, innkeepers, tradesmen, schoolfriends, ended up in Belzec and were turned into ashes, bones and dust.
This book is about something that is almost taken for granted throughout. It is not really about the courage it took to survive in the sewers of Lvov because survival is not about courage, more about determination to live despite all the hazards. This book is about the courage of one man, Leopold Socha. To put your life in danger for others is a brave choice, but to put the lives of those you love at risk... that takes a kind of courage few people actually exhibit - yet so many in Poland did in that nightmare time.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Jackson on November 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
My daughter read extensively about the Holocaust. I purchased this book at a GARAGE SALE because of her interest. She read it and it became the book that undoubtedly moved her in a way that no other holocaust had done before. She asked me to read it. It is the one and only book that I will NEVER forget. A story of courage, victims, and some survivors, that to this day, is the truest testimony of the power of determination. I read this book 15 years ago, and I have been so moved by it, coming across it while cleaning out some stuff, that I am still moved to right a review. It is a book that WILL NOT disappoint.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Truman on August 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An incredible, true story of Jews who lived for over a year in the sewers of Lvov in order to survive from the Nazis. The story tells how they all escaped the Nazis and deals with their fears, hardships, philosophies while in hiding. Socha, the hero sewer worker who risked his life to save them was genuinely a righteous gentile.
A great book, well-writen, a must for all interested in Holocaust survivor stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TamR on April 16, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very much enjoyed this book. It is well researched, drawing from interviews of several of the survivors. It is the story of a small group of people who managed to survive the liquidation of the Lvov ghetto by hiding in the sewers for 18 months. Aided by a polish sewer worker and true hero, Leopoldo Socha, the book deals with the delicate balance of mans worst and best inpmpulses. While the accounts of the survivors, did not always agree when interviewed years later, the author takes great pains to arrive at an ultimate truth. It is the story of courage in the face of horrific circumstances and is deeply moving. I have read a great deal about the camps, but did not know as much about the ghettos and the actions the Nazis took there. I had heard and been taught mostly about Warsaw, but knew nothing about Lvov. This is an important bit of history, and shouldn't be missed by anyone who has an interest in the Holocaust. There was a movie made, in Polish called "In Darkness" which I had heard of, but wanted to read the book first, so that I could get a move accurate accounting. The movie actually honored the truth of the book to a surprising degree and is well worth seeing. There is also another book called The Girl In the Green Sweater by the young girl who survived the atrocities in this story. At some point, I intend to read this as well, as I think the the first person perspective of a child in such extreme circumstances would make for a very interesting read. In fact this was probably one of the most haunting aspects of this book. As the mother myself, imagining young children in these circumstances was almost impossible for me to conceive. Their courage, luck and ultimate survival is amazingly inspirational in the face of seemingly hopeless odds. So has humanity is equally inspiring. It's ironic that a story so horrific can leave one uplifted, but this one did just that for me.
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