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We Must Remember
on March 2, 2003
Seren Tuvel began her life as a carefree child growing up in a beautiful, peaceful part of Romania. Secure in her intelligence and in the love of her eight siblings and parents, the anti-Semitism that raged in Romania seemed nothing more than an annoyance to Seren and her family. After receiving a full scholarship to attend a prestigious gymnasium (high school) in Bucharest, Seren travels to her country's capital to city to quench her thirst for learning. This dream of gaining knowledge is abruptly ended, however, when Seren throws an inkwell in the face of one of her professors after he makes an anti-Jewish remark. She flees the school, begins work as a seamstress, and enjoys city life. Nazis invade Bucharest and the entire Romanian country; Seren feels that she can take care of herself. Yet soon this feeling of security fades and Seren decides that she must go back to her country home to escape the growing Jewish persecution in the city. Disaster meets her there as well when she and her father are rounded up in a horrifying night raid by the Nazis and sent to a federal prison, where they are falsely accused of being government spies. Seren is released from prison, yet as she receives word that her father is losing his mind, and realizes the destruction of Jewish life around her, she knows that her "journey" is far from over. Indeed, the pages of her story take us deep into the horrors of Auschwitz, and show us how somehow, Seren "rebuilt" her tortured life following the war.
In many ways, this Holocaust memoir is not extraordinary in its genre. However, in a few key ways, Seren's memoir is supremely effective and unforgettable. First, as I read "The Seamstress", I was amazed by the utter lack of bitterness in the book. Seren simply TELLS about the beatings, questionings, and other forms of torture she and family endured at the hands of the Nazis, and never tries to "play-up" a single horror in her life. After the war, it is apparent that Seren simply tries to recover, find her family memebers, and gain a job. She is happy with the husband that she has found, and tirelessly keeps up hope about her life. Wow! I was so amazed and inspired by the fact that Seren never once complained about the havoc the Nazis wreaked on her her life (although that would have been completely justified), and for that reason alone, I would never forget this book. Seren's intense loyalty to her sister, Esther, and friends, Ellen and Lily, in Auschwitz was also uplifting. I was awed by the way Seren insisted that she would be responsible for her friends at Auschwitz, and swore that she would never leave them, even to get food or clothing (which were virtually non-existent at Auschwitz). It seems that this memoir strove to show the high ideals and strong character that were developed in Seren during the Holocaust, and this characteristic of the book alone is enough to make this book a must-read and an inspiration for anyone.