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Only My Life: A Survivor's Story Hardcover – February, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 183 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st American ed edition (February 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312146973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312146979
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Nazis forcibly transported De Wijze, a 21-year-old Dutch Jew, to Poland from the Netherlands in 1944, a year after they deported his parents. He recounts here the story of his survival after arriving at labor camp Monowitz, a "special unit" outside of Auschwitz. He managed to avoid starvation and relentless hard labor by making friends with a Jewish smuggler who had SS connections. He was given the relatively easy task of tending rabbits and thereby obtained enough food to survive. He also joined the camp soccer team, organized to keep the SS amused, which boosted his morale. At the end of the war, he nearly died on the forced march from the camp into Germany. After three tries, he escaped and, after the war, returned to the Netherlands, where he found his sister still alive. Although De Wijze attributes his survival to luck, his endurance and the ability to seize any opportunity that came his way surely played a part. In the literature of the Holocaust, de Wijze's memoir provides only a minor footnote.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

De Wijze is a Dutch Jew who, in March 1944, was deported from Westerbork, the transit camp in the Netherlands, to Monowitz, a labor camp outside Auschwitz. He was 21 at the time and was put to work in the synthetic oil and rubber factory known as Buna. He faced hunger, brutality, bitter cold, and degradation, but he also managed to join the camp's soccer team, smuggled vodka, and traded tobacco for bread and soup. He eventually secured a less arduous job tending rabbits. In January 1945, de Wijze was forced to leave Monowitz ahead of the advancing Russians. The death march ended at the Buchenwald concentration camp. On a second death march, de Wijze escaped and was rescued by American troops. This is an extraordinary memoir, reflecting the author's raw courage, willpower, and amazing luck. George Cohen

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Hock on July 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am lucky that my library still carries a copy of this book, which was released in 1997 and appears to be out of print. This unique, fast-paced story would be well worth the price to buy a copy from a reseller.

"Only My Life" follows Louis De Wijze, a Dutch Jew, from the time he is transferred from the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands to Monowitz concentration camp (Auschwitz-Buna) in 1944, until his liberation in April 1945. Forced to work in Buna Werke, an expansive synthetic oil and rubber plant run by I.G. Farben, De Wijze describes the terrifying Allied bombings that repeatedly hit the complex. De Wijze survives it all through a combination of luck, fortunate connections, and quick thinking. By "organizing" extra food, taking daring risks to avoid murderous work details, and posing as a gentile Dutch student after his escape from the death march, De Wijze does not sit idle and rely on luck alone to save him.

"Only My Life" is a slim book, yet filled with detail. I wished that it were twice as long as it was! I found it interesting that we jumped into Mr. De Wijze's life in 1944, at age 21, with little background, and end in 1945, with no description of his journey home and the ensuing journey of rebuilding his life. Because his excellent book made me care about him, I wished that I could have learned more about his childhood and his adult life.

This book gives a very detailed account of the illicit activities of camp prisoners at Monowitz. I was not aware that such extensive "underground" networks existed in the camps. De Wijze smuggled vodka and other goods into the camp -- not for prisoners, but for SS officers -- to provide protection and lighter work details for the involved prisoners.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I absolutly LOVED this book. Honestly I wasn't paying attension when i just randomly pulled it off the book shelf. But I must say that I am glad that I did. I believe that this book is a sign of heroism, survival and hope. Throughout the whole thing, De Wijze expresses himself and his life so vividly that when i was done, I just sat there, still, glaring at the last three words: only my life. I reccomend this wonderful book to both adults and children. It is a great source of information, and also an exilerating experience to read just for fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is simply the truth. It is amazingly descriptive, and makes you feel as if you are experiencing the Holocaust. Mr. de Wijze tells of his struggle for survival in the treachorous conditions of concentration camps. It describes the favoring of one prisoner over another and the many horrible deaths during this time period. I reccommend it to anyone looking for a good read.
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