Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New this Month: Clara’s Story by Clara Kramer

You know this story. Even so, it does not get easier to hear. Sometimes you want to look away. But you can’t. You must not. It’s an important story to remember, beautifully preserved here, but still difficult to look at straight on.

In 1939, Clara Kramer was a teenager in Poland. When the Germans invaded her small town, she and her family were given shelter by the family of their former housekeeper. With two other families, they created an underground bunker of sorts, where 18 people settled in to try to simply live through the nightmare that had fallen over their world.

In many regards, Kramer’s story echoes that of the doomed Anne Frank but, of course, for the happier ending. That alone is a miracle: of the 5000 Jews in Zolkiew, Poland before the War, Kramer is one of only 50 to have survived. In reading her story, though, there’s more than survival here. There is perseverance, desperation and grace, in equal measure. That grace is present in every word. From the author’s note of Clara’s Story:
Writing this book was like walking out my kitchen door in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and straight into my home in Zolkiew. Although the events in this book happened sixty years ago, they have never left me. As with many survivors, I relive them in the present.
Now 81, Kramer was one of the founders of the Holocaust Resource Center at Kean University. It’s an organization she has been president of for the last 20 years.

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