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Unwritten Diary of Israel Unger (Life Writing) Paperback – March 1, 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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About the Author

Born and raised in New Brunswick, Carolyn Gammon moved to Berlin in 1992. Her poetry, prose, and essays have appeared in anthologies in North America and Great Britain, and in translation. She is co-author of the Holocaust memoir Johanna Krause Twice Persecuted (WLU Press, 2007).



Israel Unger was born in 1938 in Tarnow, Poland, and immigrated to Canada in 1951. He is Dean Emeritus of Science at the University of New Brunswick. Israel Unger was one of fifty Holocaust survivors to be honoured by the Government of Canada in 1998 in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He was the educational advisor for Atlantic Canada for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.

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Product Details

  • Series: Life Writing
  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554588316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554588312
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,093,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Israel (nicknamed Srulik) Unger was a young child during the Holocaust. He and part of his family survived the Nazis when some Poles hid them behind a false wall in an attic of a flour mill in Tarnow. It is unclear how many Poles knew about the Jews in hiding, yet not one of them denounced the Jews to the Germans. Gammon and Unger at first estimate that about ten Poles knew about the hidden Jews (p. 15), but then suspect that the existence of the fugitive Jews in hiding was an open secret among the Poles. (p. 199).

This book is really three books. The first one deals with Srulik's childhood recollections (and statements from adults), the second deals with his postwar life in Canada, and the last deals with his recent visits to the relevant sites in Poland (and the archives therein).

RESCUE FOR PAYMENT: GREED AND ANTI-SEMITISM?

Paid Polish rescuers have commonly been condemned as ones exploiting the defenseless Jews. Although the Polish rescuers of the Unger family did not require payment from the Jews, it is easy to see why some Polish rescuers did. Srulik comments, "...food was so scarce, for non-Jewish Poles too." (p. 14).

Srulik categorically repudiates insinuations against paid Polish rescuers of Jews. He writes, (quote) If you helped a Jew you were dead. But why shouldn't you benefit from it? I don't think it was immoral or unethical. You're sorry to see what is happening to these people; you're going to help them, but you need some help too. So why should it not be symbiotic? I don't have anything against that. (unquote). (p. 14).

Even though a Polish rescuer of Jews faced death from the Germans if caught, regardless of circumstance, some Jews actually WANTED to pay Polish rescuers.
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Format: Paperback
Synopsis: In Nazi Germany, Israel Unger and his family are forced to live hidden in the attic of his family's business. After the war, his parents sent him France to live with a foster family through a refugee program until they could be reunited and immigrate to Montreal.

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: I thought this book was going to be a male version of The Diary of Anne Frank. It wasn't. A bit of the book focused on the author's time in hiding in Nazi Germany. However, the better chunk was focused on the family's immigration into Canada. This left me a bit disappointed in the storyline.

I love first person accounts of periods of time in history, but I went into this book thinking the path was going to go one way and it went a totally different path.

Source: Netgalley for Wilfred Laurier University Press

Would I recommend? : Not really sure. I thought it was an interesting memoir, but definitely not what I expected.
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By Johnene on January 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
great read. Awesome story. thanks so much for sharing. Love this book. Author is an awesome man. would recomend this book.
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