The year was 1939 when Gerda Weissmann first encountered the Germans in her Polish town, but at that moment she had no idea of what hardships she would face in the next 7 years.
All But My Life is the memoir of Gerda Weissmann, a Jewish girl growing up in Poland during World War II. I this brilliantly written novel, Klein wrote about her childhood and the experiences she faced as the Germans took over Europe and began their extermination of the Jews. I borrowed this book from my friend’s grandmother who, knowing my fascination with the Holocaust, suggested I read it. While I have been gulping down different types of fiction about the Holocaust, it is always haunting reading a true tale.
As Klein tells her story, she doesn’t skimp on any details. She tells the reader in the beginning of being introduced to a character whether they survived or not. Klein brings the reality of how the Holocaust destroyed so many lives to the forefront. My heart cried for all the family and friends Gerda knew and lost. Many times I caught myself thinking the same as Gerda, and questioning, Why? Why did this have to happen to millions of innocent people? And sometimes it feels so surreal that not that long ago there were people who could treat other people this way because of their religion.
I applaud Klein on her writing style and the vibrant details she gives. I applaud her on coming forth and telling her story, as well as the stories of others who are no longer around to tell it. But most of all, I applaud her for her strength and courage. This is definitely another novel I think that should be read by everyone at least once in the hopes that it will give humanity the strength and knowledge that it gave me.
If you liked All But My Life, I recommend reading Night by Eli Wiesel.