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Still Alive

The Helen Rose Scheuer Jewish Women's Series - A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. Kluger's story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust.

Interwoven with blunt, unsparing observations of childhood and nuanced reflections of an adult who has spent a lifetime thinking about the Holocaust, Still Alive rejects all easy assumptions about history, both political and personal. Whether describing the abuse she met at her own mother's hand, the life-saving generosity of a woman SS aide in Auschwitz, the foibles and prejudices of Allied liberators, or the cold shoulder offered by her relatives when she and her mother arrived as refugees in New York, Kluger sees and names an unexpected reality which has little to do with conventional wisdom or morality tales.

Still Alive is a memoir of the pursuit of selfhood against all odds, a fiercely bittersweet coming-of-age story in which the protagonist must learn never to rely on comforting assumptions, but always to seek her own truth.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 17, 2001 – In the 1950s, when Kluger's children were small and growing up in the U.S., she caught German measles from them. Her family doctor said, "You must have led a sheltered childhood." In reality, she spent her early years in Theresienstadt and Birkenau-Auschwitz. Kluger's memoir which has already become a bestseller in Germany is a startling, clear-eyed and unflinching examination of growing up as a Jewish girl during the Holocaust. Calmly, and chillingly, relating the everyday events of her youth Aryan students making colored paper swastikas and then asking Jewish students to judge them, breaking the law to go to an Aryan movie house to see Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and being challenged by a neighbor Kluger charts how she and her family moved from a middle-class Viennese life to dealing with the constant threat of death in the camps. Kluger's style is wry ("the muse of history has a way of cracking bad jokes at the expense of the Jews"), and she can shock readers with simple, honest admissions, such as her embarrassment, in the 1970s, when her mother asks unanswerable questions of a speaker about the death camps. Kluger, who is now professor emerita at UC-Irvine and has won awards for this memoir as well as her literary criticism, has written a deeply moving and significant work that raises vital questions about cultural representations of the Holocaust (why did the highly praised, socially conscious 1947 film Gentleman's Agreement never mention "the Jewish catastrophe"?) and searches for what it means to be a survivor. Already compared by European critics to the work of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel, this is an important addition to Jewish, Holocaust and women's studies.

Customer Reviews


I have a very keen interest in the holocaust and survivors. I have read many books on the subject and have always been overwhelmed that out of such dire circumstances, people survived. Not only survived, but thrived, had hope, and eventually dared to be happy in spite of the sadness in their lives. This book was different. The child that entered the concentration camps was so psychologically damaged by her unfortunate circumstances that she emerges broken for life. Yes she succeeds on a professional level, but her personal life is not filled with happiness or joy, but is instead filled with bitterness and negativity. As a result, her story is depressing. For the first time reading a survivor's story I do not like the survivor! Real life, yes. Unfortunate, but true, not all survivors came out of the ordeal unscathed. This author will forever carry the wounds and scars of her ordeal, and they are not pretty.


This is an excellent read. I don't understand the previous review.. This is one of the most honest memoirs I have read. Of course she has some issues.. Her childhood was the holocaust. She goes on to be a successful person who continues to deal with things from her past. I would love to be able to take a trip overseas & visit the camps although I know I can never truly comprehend. As I am a single mother of 2 and a nurse, I don't think it's a trip I will be taking. Excellent book!

Other Books in This Series

Still Alive
View in iTunes
  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Apr 01, 2003
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY
  • Seller: Perseus Books, LLC
  • Print Length: 216 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: The Helen Rose Scheuer Jewish Women's Series
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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