I love non-fiction about strong people who struggle through frightening events to somehow survive all the odds. These stories grab me because I want to believe we can persevere through the worst, but knowing that survival will take determination and hard work in order to defend our lives and beliefs. Franci’s War: A Woman’s Story of Survival by Franci Rabinek Epstein, is that kind of story. Franci was a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birrkenau camps. Her daughter, Helen Epstein, has edited her mother’s journal and divided it into chapters to help the reader follow the story.
Franci was born in Prague, in 1920. At the age of nineteen she became the owner of her mother’s couture shop, but the Nazi’s had invaded Czechoslovakia and her world was rapidly changing. Franci and her parents were arrested by the Gestapo, released, she got married, got pregnant—and decided on an abortion–and in the next year, Nazi’s took everything away and sent her to a concentration camp. She survived, in part, because she told them a lie, that she was an electrician. Her story is amazing, honest, heartbreaking and inspiring, and, in my opinion, a must read to understand our past–so we never repeat it.