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Waltzing with the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust Paperback – June 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Urim Publications; First Edition edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936068214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936068210
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,451,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mitsios (Digital editor; Geishas and Talking Frogs: The Best 21st Century Short Stories from Japan) and her mother, Kliot, deliver a dual memoir documenting how past tragedies reverberate through the years to affect children of Holocaust survivors. Kliot recalls the anguish and daily terror of her life in Lithuania during WWII. Having survived the Holocaust with false Christian identity papers (and having helped her mother and brother survive posing as Polish farmhands), she continued the charade after the war, falling in love with and marrying a Greek man. In 1951 they settled in Phoenix, Ariz., and Kliot continued to hide her true identity from her daughter, enrolling Helen in a Catholic grade school as "a way of providing her with a Christian identity if the need ever arose.... I didn't want her to be rooted in a Jewish community that could entrap her and leave her vulnerable to discrimination." In the book's second half, Helen writes about seeking her own identity and learning of her mother's, while struggling to change her mother's fear that being Jewish would make them "outcasts." These mirrored memories provide an intimate portrait, compelling and compassionate. 29 b&w photos. (June)

Review

This memoir, an intimate recounting of two very different lives and times, is one of the most honest and life-affirming books I've ever read. It teaches us how the past informs the present and helps explain the world around us today. --Howard C. Cutler, M.D., Author of The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, co-authored with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mitsios and her mother, Kliot, deliver a dual memoir documenting how past tragedies reverberate through the years to affect children of Holocaust survivors ... In the book's second half, Helen writes about seeking her own identity and learning of her mother's, while struggling to change her mother's fear that being Jewish would make them ''outcasts.'' These mirrored memories provide an intimate portrait, compelling and compassionate. --Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By historybuff on June 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
The counterpoint of two very different voices make this book so incredibly powerful. The mother's story is an unforgettable one of great wit and determination to stay alive and outwit Nazi persecution told in spare prose. The daughter's is about inheriting PTSD and trying to step away from the "ghosts of the Holocaust." Rasia teaches her daughter that the world is a dangerous place and remains vigilant and protective, going so far as to baptize and raise her as Catholic, and instructing her daughter to never tell anyone that they are Jewish. She insists her daughter, like herself, carry on with a protective false Christian identity even decades after the Holocaust. As the daughter tries to separate from her mother's overly protective grasp, as she visits her grandfather's "grave" at a place of mass murder in Lithuania, I was moved to tears by the elegantly subtle writing. This is one of the most revealing and important accounts I've read by a daughter of a Holocaust survivor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By elilyon on June 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is truly a remarkable work, which manages to tread perfectly the fine line between the moving and the maudlin. It is part historical adventure, as the mother avoids annihilation during the Holocaust; it is part the daughter's Coming of Age in Arizona by way of Vilnius; and it is all a remarkable story about how the wounds of war are passed from one generation to the next. It's a very good--and very original--read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Felly Rey on July 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a privilege it was to read this beautifully written book. It is about Raisa, a girl who survives the Holocaust and how she did it. Eventually she marries a Greek man and doesn't want to admit she is Jewish. When Raisa becomes a mother she has her baby girl Helen baptised and raised as a Catholic. Helen, a beautiful and sensitive flower, wonders why they have no family and eventually learns the secrets her mother has been keeping.

She adores Raisa, is horrified about all she has endured, admires her strength and wants to help her come clean about being Jewish. This true story makes you realize how the Holocaust affects the children of survivors; how much suffering they also go through and how desperately they want to help their parents. As if mother/daughter relationships weren't complicated enough, this adds a whole new dimension and is a very important read. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M.E. Mali on January 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Co-written by Rasia Kliot and Helen Mitsios, the first half of the book is in Rasia's voice, a Holocaust survivor and Helen's mother. Her account of her upbringing and the sheer determination that kept her alive through the Holocaust (as well has her ability to pass for Polish due to her fair coloring) is understated, lacking in self-pity, and deeply moving. The second half of the book is in Helen's voice, about her experiences growing up in the Greek Orthodox church and going to Catholic school, finding out about her mother's Judaism later in life. I was touched by Helen's self-awareness as someone stuck in the liminal spaces between cultures and an inheritor of trauma that was unspoken but somehow internalized by her (as is the case with so many children of Holocaust survivors). I could not stop reading. Elegantly written, with a deep understanding of human nature, this book is worth picking up not only because it's a well-written story, but also for its understanding of how traumatic experiences get passed down through generations and how to survive (and hopefully thrive) in spite of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Check this out on May 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This vivid mother-daughter memoir describes how two remarkable women from two generations "survived" the holocaust with courage, insight, and compassion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cyn. zarco on September 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
This memoir was voted the most favorite book by our book club. There are so many important themes raised here that the mother-daughter dynamic becomes almost secondary.
Helen (the daughter) is dealt a difficult stack of cards as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She writes beautifully about profound subjects that are often too hard to talk about. I felt her angst as I read about her struggle with identity, faith, her marriage to an Episcopalian, being the daughter of immigrants who didn't speak English at home, etc.
Like her mother, she never feels sorry for herself, but writes movingly about stepping out of the shadow of the Holocaust and creating a life for herself.
Rasia's (the mother) story is such an inspiration. It's contemporary and so different from other Holocaust memoirs because she also describes her life today. She writes about her post-World War II years in Vienna when people had to live by their wits to survive hunger and hardship.
She then leaves for Montreal with her husband where they both work as domestics to pay back the Canadian government for their boat ride to Canada. Later they settle down in Phoenix. Even though Rasia remains committed to Judaism, she raises Helen as a Catholic because the fear of anti-Semitism has never left her.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, not just for mothers and daughters, but for fathers and sons, historians, psychologists -- anyone who has suffered a hardship they thought they couldn't overcome. This rare memoir has a lot to offer on how to get through the very worst times and get on with your life.
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