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Triumph of Hope: From Theresienstadt and Auschwitz to Israel Hardcover – April 17, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471163651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471163657
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,422,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The understated tone of this memoir adds to the author's powerful re-creation of her life as a young Czechoslovak Jewish woman during the Holocaust. After the 1939 German occupation of her country, Elias, with her father and sister (her parents were divorced), lived undercover in a Czech village until 1942, when they were betrayed and removed to the Theresienstadt ghetto. To avoid deportation to a concentration camp, Elias married her boyfriend, Koni, a member of the Jewish ghetto police. But the two were eventually sent to Auschwitz, where she tried to hide her pregnancy. Horrifyingly, the author describes how camp doctor Joseph Mengele allowed her to give birth, then conducted an experiment to determine how long it would take her newborn son to starve to death. Another prisoner helped Elias inject the baby with morphine on the sixth day. Also detailed is Elias's harsh struggle to survive until the end of the war. She subsequently separated from Koni, remarried and emigrated to Israel. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Ably translated, this is an extraordinary Holocaust memoir wherein a young Czech woman undergoes a dizzying variety of hellish experiences. Published in association with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, this volume is a clinic on the varieties of torture that one could undergo as a Jew during the Nazi period. Young Ruth was steeled for loss early in life as a child of divorced parents. This girl who enjoyed music and skiing soon found herself in a long line of Jews delivering all valuables (especially money, jewelry, musical instruments, and radios) to the new Gestapo authorities. The family managed to hide out on a farm with gentiles for many months, but their resources ran out and the Gestapo closed in, forcing the family to the camp Theresienstadt, where conditions were occasionally livable thanks to periodic visits by the Red Cross. But inmates suffered all the more when their meager calorie allotment dropped back to starvation level. To her credit, young Ruth volunteered as a nurse, even though her duties required more removal of corpses than relieving anyone's suffering. While bedridden herself with fever, she married her ghetto policeman boyfriend. Elias, soon pregnant, was then transferred to Auschwitz, where pregnancy was a certain death sentence. Her attending physician turned out to be none other than the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele, who spared her life because he wanted to see how long an unfed baby could live. The most pathetic lines in this moving memoir are a soliloquy by this young mother who must kill her newborn for a chance of survival: ``My child . . . you can't even whimper anymore.'' Elias is ultimately tapped for forced labor, allowing her to survive to see the Third Reich crumble and eventually begin a family in Palestine. Because of the variety of the authors experiences and the power of their expression here, if you could only read one Holocaust memoirthis should be the one. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
It just goes to show that the human spirit is an amazing thing.
Personal stories, when well told, help us come at least somewhat closer to comprehending the incomprehensible.
Guido Smit
This woman endured so much, and with such grace, that you cannot help but be invested in her story.
J. Queen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rochelle on June 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I found this book not only an unbelievable book to read but also a book which I learnt a lot from. As I am learning about the Holocaust in school now, it was good to hear a personal story from the horses mouth(so to speak) of what actually happened. Often when you hear stories they are changed each time they are retold, like the game broken telephone. But when you read a book which was written by the person who was the actual survivor, you know it isn't going to be all distorted and something you can actually learn from. I am still unable to comprehend exactly how it all happened but it did so now we should make sure that the story of the Holocaust is told to the future Jewish and non-Jewish generations to come, to make sure it is never forgotten. Also to make sure Holocaust deniers don't convince people that the Holocaust never happened as they are very persuasive with their stupid lies. Unfortunatley one day we won't have any survivors left and that is why we need to educate the future which is my generation and the generations that follow. So I recommend if you haven't read this book to read it and if you have or once you finish, recommend it to everyone to read. Ruth Elias is not only a fabulous author but a fabulous and heroic person. She is someone we should all look up to.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on July 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Ruth Elias' moving memoir of surviving the Holocaust and then building a new life in Israel is a haunting reminder of how resilient the human spirit is. She survives Theresienstadt and Auschwitz after losing all her family to the Nazis. In her memoir's most unforgettable episode, she delivers a daughter in a dirty, makeshift bed at Auschwitz and becomes a subject in one of Joseph Mengele's most gruesome experiments. Her infant will satisfy Mengele's curiosity about the amount of time a newborn can survive without nourishment. Elias' breasts are bandaged so that she cannot breastfeed and the child she can't bear to name suffers horribly for six days. A fellow prisoner provides a morphine injection to put the baby out of its misery and Elias herself delivers the death dosage. This is powerful narrative from a woman who saw degradation and death and survived thanks to her will and her love of music. It's an interesting addition to the list of Holocaust memoirs and a remind! er that the dream of Eretz Israel helped people like Ruth Elias survive to tell the tale the Nazis wanted no one to hear. I only wish that Elias had added more about her early years in Israel to her narrative, but perhaps she's saving that for a sequel to her memoirs.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Ruth's journey into the world of hell and horror leaves one feeling riveted and emotionally drained. A real "must read"! I had the priviledge of meeting Ruth in Israel last summer and she is a remarkable woman.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Malone on August 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I finished reading Triumph of Hope this morning, after starting it two days ago. I simply couldn't put it down. The author, Ruth Elias, is nothing less than extraordinary. The way that she expresses her memories, through her style of writing and description, helps us to get one step closer to understanding an experience, which we can never really comprehend, because we were not there. Mrs Elias's life is remarkable, and through reading her book I thoroughly believe that she is a genuinely lovely, kind and warm person. It is such a tragedy that the Jewish people of her generation went through turmoil and absolute hell. But through this book, Ruth's aims - to spread the message that the discrimination and racism they experienced should never be repeated - are being achieved when a single person reads her book. Her message is being spread over the world, and I am glad that i was able to read Triumph of Hope. I intend to share this book with my family and friends, so that they can read of such an incredible woman, and a generation of people who refused to give in. I sincerely recomend this book to anyone who is thinking of buying this, for themselves or for others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alter Wiener on January 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
Reading or seeing a documentary about the horrendous murders of six million Jews and five million other "undesirables" by the Nazis during WWII is shocking -- especially when we remember that all the victims were individuals who had their own unique history, a life of dreams and hopes. Every Holocaust survivor has a unique story to tell. This definitely includes Ruth Elias in her memoir "Triumph of Hope."

The reader gets a glimpse of life in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia where Ruth Elias, the daughter of divorced parents, grew up. Her family, the Huppets, were members of a vibrant Jewish community. Ruth was taken by horse and carriage to the Jewish grammar school. Every day a needy family ate lunch at their home. Anti-Semitism was quite prevalent in Moravia, part of Czechoslovakia, especially among the young ethnic Germans. The Sokol Athletic Association was notorious for its anti-Semitism.

The Germans invaded Moravia in March 1939. Every day new decrees referring to the persecution of Jews were issued. Ruth's father and her only sister Edith were sent to Auschwitz, and perished there. Later on, Ruth was deported to Theresienstadt - a ghetto where about 60,000 Jews were crammed. It was set up by the German occupiers to be "the kingdom of deceit." The Germans were so successful in their propaganda efforts that even the Red Cross came to believe that the place was a decent, and even ideal, place for its "residents." In reality, the conditions were terrible; starvation and diseases flourished, and the inhabitants were merely languishing before being shipped off to Auschwitz for extermination. Out of 15,000 children only 100 -- less than one percent -- survived. Ruth got married there to Koni. Later on while pregnant, Ruth was sent to Auschwitz.
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