The Experts Praise 999
"Almost one thousand young Jewish women, some no older than sixteen, were rounded up across Slovakia in the spring of 1942 and told that they were being sent to do government work service in newly occupied Poland, and that they would be away no more than a few months. Very few returned. Macadam has managed to recreate not only the backgrounds of the women on the first convoy but also their day to day lives--and deaths--during their years in Auschwitz. Books such as this one are essential: they remind modern readers of events that should never be forgotten."
--From the foreword by Caroline Moorehead
, New York Times
bestselling author of A Train in Winter
"A staggering narrative about the forgotten women of the Holocaust. In a profound work of scholarship, Heather Dune Macadam reveals how young women helped each other survive one of the most egregious events in human history. Her book also offers insight into the passage of these women into adulthood, and their children, as 'secondhand survivors.'"--Gail Sheehy
, New York Times
bestselling author of Passages
and Daring: My Passages
"An important addition to the annals of the Holocaust, as well as women's history. Not everyone could handle such material, but Heather Dune Macadam is deeply qualified, insightful and perceptive."--Susan Lacy
, creator of the American Masters series and filmmaker
"However much one reads about the Holocaust there is always something more with the power to shock. The story of these teenage girls is truly extraordinary. Congratulations to Heather Dune Macadam for enabling the rest of us to sit down and just marvel at how on earth they did it."--Anne Sebba
, New York Times
bestselling author of Les Parisiennes
and That Woman
"An important contribution to the literature on women's experiences . . .With passion and extensive research, Heather Dune Macadam gives the first official women's transport to Auschwitz its rightful place in Holocaust history."--Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel
, founder and executive director, Remember the Women Institute
"A fresh, remarkable story of Auschwitz, on the 75th anniversary of its liberation.
Dune Macadam (co-author: Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz, 1995) chronicles the tale of nearly 1,000 Jewish women from Slovakia, the first women to be shipped to the Polish death camp. While not the majority of inmates, a majority of the Slovakian Jews were sent there. The author makes great use of her "interviews with witnesses, survivors, and families, and USC Shoah Archive testimonies."
Most readers have learned about the many shocking aspects of the camps, including slave labor and other countless deprivations, but the author shows us how every time a train pulled in, there would be a selection, for work or extermination; the same would occur at morning roll call. There was no rhyme nor reason to the selection process; it was often just a whim. Those women in this first shipment were tattooed beginning with the number 1,000, but within a year, they were numbering nearly 39,000. As Dune Macadam notes, there were some work assignments that were safer and slightly more comfortable: sewing, laundry, mail, clerical and, hospital. The most sought-after assignment was sorting the clothes of new arrivals. Often, the women would find a piece of bread or other contraband they could carefully smuggle out. One woman found a tube of diamonds. When she was caught, she claimed she was saving it for one of the Nazis in charge; she got off, and he took leave, bought a farm, and never returned. Throughout the book, readers will be consistently astounded by the strength of these women. They fought desperately to survive and supported each other, often literally holding up friends and hiding sick inmates. "My goal," writes Dune Macadam in an author's note, "is to build as complete a picture as I can of the girls and young women of the first 'official' Jewish transport to Auschwitz." It's not easy reading, but consider that goal achieved. An uplifting story of the herculean strength of young girls in a staggeringly harrowing situation
"In this intimate and harrowing account, historian and novelist Macadam (coauthor, Rena's Promise
) reconstructs the lives of dozens of young Jewish women who were on the first convoy to arrive at Auschwitz in March 1942... This careful, sympathetic history illuminates an incomprehensible human tragedy."--Publishers Weekly