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We Never Lost Hope: A Holocaust Memoir and Love Story [Kindle Edition]

Naomi Litvin , Sir Martin Gilbert
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Author Naomi Litvin recreates her parents' incredible love story in the powerful memoir, We Never Lost Hope. Litvin, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an American Jewish GI who landed at Normandy, lets her family members reveal the stories of their lives before, during, and after the Holocaust. Told in five indelible voices, the book gives a you-are-there punch and a moving immediacy. Lovely and haunting, We Never Lost Hope is a reminder that genocide can happen anywhere, and that we all must be vigilant against the forces of hatred.

"Naomi Litvin leaves all students of the Holocaust in her debt...every memoir adds to our knowledge, both of what happened, and of the emotions and feelings of that terrible era, and this memoir is no exception: it calls out to be read." --Sir Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill's official biographer, a leading historian, and author of eighty-one books.

Editorial Reviews


Five relatives narrate their harrowing World War II experiences in this family chronicle.

It could be said that rather than writing this affecting and effective book, Litvin sculpted it. Her breezy but vital narrative provides the shape and overall historical context for her family's story, but her relatives are the ones doing the real work. Using the first-person accounts of her parents, an aunt, an uncle and a friend of the family, the author offers a nuanced and multifaceted look at the plight of Jews in mid-20th century Eastern Europe. From a small Angora farm in Satu-Mare, Romania, to the horrifying grounds of Auschwitz and finally, to a new life in America, the five distinct voices of Edith, Hilda, and Mendi Festinger, Nate Litvin and Kurt Meyers provide a powerful and intimate journey through one of mankind's darkest hours. Litvin does well not to mute her sources with an authoritative filter. The book's undeniable authenticity comes from the life events retold by each narrator--while most historical texts offer one individual's take, We Never Lost Hope presents five survivors working through their memories. Litvin augmented the book with photographs, news articles and other ephemera (telegrams, maps, etc.) that support the sense of intimacy and reality. Since some accounts can occasionally run long, it may have been helpful for Litvin to provide more editorial insight and direction. Still, the book is a soaring testament to the strength and adaptability of five remarkable people.

A wonderfully executed, powerful family chronicle. --Kirkus Discoveries 2/13/09

About the Author

Naomi Litvin is a freelance writer and lives in Northern California.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1732 KB
  • Print Length: 231 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1439204217
  • Publisher: Booksurge (July 7, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003V4B2WW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got this as a free kindle download.I will first review the story itself, then the kindle version, then give some suggestions for how this book could have been better.

I like historical accounts that tell stories, such as The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, and so thought this book would be a good read as well. I was disappointed. While the story was good: family overcoming horrible circumstances during the Holocaust and one sister finding true love at the end, the actual story telling in this book did not have good flow. It felt like a person rambling without a plot line. The book jumped from one viewpoint to another. The introductions to each section were well written and told some background information that was not in the interview portions of the book. Overall, this book read like it was pieced together from different family members with nothing edited so that the reader was caught up in the story of the book.

Another disappointing thing about specifically the kindle version is that sections of the book were out of order. One is reading and then all of the sudden a sentence stops without being finished and a completely new idea starts, then a few pages later the section that was missing appears in the middle of another story. It made this book very hard to read. I wish publishers would copy edit their ebooks more carefully.

I think this account would have been better served if the author took all the memoirs that she so lovingly collected and wrote the story from Edith's point of view, or as a third person narrator so that the story would have come more alive. It would be very interesting to see this book turned into a multi-media scrapbook using the surviving photos, telegrams, and movie reels to tell about Edith and Nate's life using the newest e-publishing technology.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Glossed over and self-conflicted. March 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A holocaust story told in three parts. The story is predominantly told by Edith Festinger (the author's mother) and her brother Mendi Festinger.

Book One outlines some of the family history, their assets, careers, ambitions and movements in Romania / Hungary prior to World War 2.

Book Two details the time the characters spent in the concentration camps, their sufferings, abuses and movements from one camp to another. There are multiple perspectives offered here, again predominantly Edith and Mendi. It adds nothing new to the horrors we've already read about in the camps (here are the Auschwitz & Melk camps). Also mentioned are the abuses suffered in the Krupp munitions facilities (forced slave labor) and the subsequent rescue by American GI's.

This section contains some incredibly poor editing, not so much in the writing style but there are segments where the story is broken (a paragraph ends abruptly and is overtaken by another entry which makes no sense linearly, but the end of the previous paragraph is found three pages later, which necessitates you back-track to finish the original thought).

Also, not to demean any individual story or put anyone down and say they didn't suffer enough - these camp experiences seem tame, the picture isn't painted very vividly - it's like the author wrote about pulling a sliver as opposed to being beaten in Auschwitz and Krupps...

Book Three is mainly an exchange of letters between Nate Litvin (the author's father) and Edith. They were separated when Nate returned to the US (he was a GI) but promised to bring Edith to the US. After a load of paperwork & running around she was the first `War Bride' brought back to the US - even Eisenhower was of assistance.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed and disappointing March 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is filled with too many voices with no real flow. There is an attempt to follow a timeline,but with so many different people telling the story with very poor editing it is like trying to listen to a bunch of people talking at the same time.

There are many very good memoirs of this time out there, and this is not one of them. This may work as an oral family history for those who are actually related to those telling the story. I am glad that the author was able to get written, video, and audio records of her family before they passed on, but if she wants to share the story with the world there are better ways to have produced this. This was more of a transcript of what they told her with nothign really holding the story together. Perhaps she would have been better off picking one voice and using the memories of others to flesh it out. Not enough time was spent trying to make any of those in the story likeable. In fact, by the end I really kind of disliked Edith, which was not what I wanted to feel about her. She was a survivor and I wanted to root for her.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Disappointing! DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY! June 9, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Firstly, being that the Holocaust is one of the most important historical events in history and is a tragic chapter of Jewish history, I spend copious amounts of time researching the subject. The scope of the crimes of the Holocaust are astronomical. For us to absorb the lessons of history, it is very important those who are trying to document it, do a good job. Unfortuntly, this "memoir" does not measure up, as it was one of the most boring things and ill-constructed things I've ever tried to read. It had no flow.

Can it be considered a Holocaust story or memoir? I don't think so. It is more of a transcription of family members telling their stories than anyting else. I am not sure why Sir Martin Gilbert would attach his good name to this clumsy effort. Because of its poor construction, I question its historical accuracy. It seemed the author sat with family members ,recorded their stories, and later transcribed them onto paper.I could not get through it. From what I was able read, it did not seem to correlate with what actually happened at the time and in the places described, when compared to actual scholarly works and narratives on the subject matter at hand.

Secondly, I understand sales are bad, so now that the author now tries to give this away for free. I had been receiving a lot of spam telling me to download a free Kindle copy. Unfortunately, I already had bought it (along with many other, but better, materials). If you get spammed as many other are, and the opportunity to download free copy, I do not suggest you take the advantage of it. As some have said, "you get what you pay for." From the other reviews I've read, it seems the Kindle version is even WORSE and more unorganized and scattered than what I tried to get through in the first places.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars And this book is just beautiful to read
We need to NEVER forget! And this book is just beautiful to read!
Published 4 days ago by Azri'el Collier
3.0 out of 5 stars God is lost on a path to our way Not up nor down Nowhere in sight
Story chronicles the lives of a Jewish family before, during and after the Holocaust told as if you were sitting in the same room together and just listening to them take turns... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Don Kidwell
4.0 out of 5 stars First Hand Account
Very interesting! I loved that the account was told as it was shared, first-hand. The absolute resilience of those treated so terribly is moving and heart-felt. Read more
Published 8 days ago by tjbrew
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful story
Wonderful story of love, pain and life under Hitler's reign of terror. Edith Litvin is a remarkable woman who survived under the worst conditions and went on to have a wonderful... Read more
Published 16 days ago by James Breckinridge
5.0 out of 5 stars moving memoir
Very moving story of this families tribulations during the Holocaust and the time after. None of us know how brave we could be during such a horrible time. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Cheryl A. Wiseman
5.0 out of 5 stars We Never Lost Hope
This book was well written and was riveting...I couldn't put it down! Edith's story gave me insight on how difficult it was when the camps were liberated for Jews in Europe to try... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Terri
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading
This book was hard to put down. This story, which was filled with horrendous acts, untold grief and suffering, was told with emotional clarity and honesty. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M.Goulet
4.0 out of 5 stars Holocaust
A good story of the war and Nazi oppression of the Jews told in a multi person narrative of stories and letters. A good supplement to anyone studying the history of that period
Published 1 month ago by ron_barnes
1.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This was a very intriguing book. It was a truthful book and also a love story. I recommend this book.
Published 1 month ago by James P Weido
5.0 out of 5 stars We never lost hope is wonderful!
I loved this book. It was especially nice to hear from so many different family members how life during the Holocaust was from their various view points. Read more
Published 2 months ago by S. Garrison
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More About the Author

Naomi Litvin is a free-lance writer living in Tel Aviv, Israel. Naomi grew up in Michigan and then spent many years in California. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice, Magna cum Laude from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Naomi was a member of The Jewish Book Council's Meet the Author 2009-2010 program. She is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an American Jewish GI. We Never Lost Hope is her family's true story. Naomi's second book Beneath A Stormy Cloud: Moving On Without Her deals with her grief in losing her mother through a study of her mother's poetry. Naomi is currently working on her third book which is fiction.


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