It is my very great pleasure to feature Wendy Holden’s ‘Born Survivors’ here today. ‘Born Survivors’ is historic non-fiction and was published by Little Brown in May 2015. (ISBN: 978-0-7515574-1-1) It is available to buy here in the UK and here in the US in ebook, hardback and paperback.
About Born Survivors
Among millions of Holocaust victims sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau in 1944, Priska, Rachel, and Anka each passed through its infamous gates with a secret. Strangers to each other, they were newly pregnant, and facing an uncertain fate without their husbands. Alone, scared, and with so many loved ones already lost to the Nazis, these young women were privately determined to hold on to all they had left: their lives, and those of their unborn babies.
That the gas chambers ran out of Zyklon-B just after the babies were born, before they and their mothers could be exterminated, is just one of several miracles that allowed them all to survive and rebuild their lives after World War II. Born Survivors follows the mothers’ incredible journey – first to Auschwitz, where they each came under the murderous scrutiny of Dr. Josef Mengele; then to a German slave labour camp where, half-starved and almost worked to death, they struggled to conceal their condition; and finally, as the Allies closed in, their hellish 17-day train journey with thousands of other prisoners to the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.
Hundreds died along the way but the courage and kindness of strangers, including guards and civilians, helped save these women and their children. Sixty-five years later, the three ‘miracle babies’ met for the first time at Mauthausen for the anniversary of the liberation that ultimately saved them. United by their remarkable experiences of survival against all odds, they now consider each other “siblings of the heart.”
In Born Survivors, now published in 21 countries and translated into 16 languages, Wendy Holden brings all three stories together for the first time to mark their seventieth birthdays and the seventieth anniversary of the ending of the war. A heart-stopping account of how three mothers and their newborns fought to survive the Holocaust, Born Survivors is also a life-affirming celebration of our capacity to care and to love amid inconceivable cruelty.
“An exceptionally fresh history, a work of prodigious original research, written with zealous empathy.” New York Times
“A work of quite extraordinary investigative dedication… Married to (the) narrative skills, Born Survivors is a moving testament of faith.” Sir Harold Evans
“An incredible true story… In this meticulously detailed account, Holden compiles an enormous amount of information… The graphic history places readers in the moment and the story’s truth is chillingly portrayed. An engrossing, intense, and highly descriptive narrative chronicling the ghastly conditions three pregnant women suffered through at the hands of the Nazis.” Kirkus Reviews
“Holden weaves.. written, oral and recorded accounts, plus an array of historical records, into a spellbinding story of perseverance amid systematic abuse.” American Jewish World
“One of the most important books of the year.” Last Word Reviews
About the Author
Wendy Holden was a journalist for eighteen years, including a decade at the Daily Telegraph where she worked as a foreign and war correspondent. She is author and the co-author of more than thirty books, including several bestselling wartime biographies, including Tomorrow to be Brave, Till the Sun Grows Cold, and Behind Enemy Lines. She lives in Suffolk, England with her husband and two dogs and divides her time between the U.K. and the U.S.