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Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
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Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  3,066 ratings  ·  284 reviews
This heart-stopping story of a young girl hiding from the Nazis is based on Clara Kramer's diary of her years surviving in an underground bunker with seventeen other people.

Clara Kramer was a typical Polish-Jewish teenager from a small town at the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Germans invaded, Clara's family was taken in by the Becks, a Volksdeutsche (ethnical
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ebook, 285 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2008)
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Chrissie
I am listening to the audiobook narrated by Rula Lenska and her tone is perfect for the author who is 81 when she writes the book. It is based on a diary that the author wrote when she was in her teens,living hidden in a bunker, dug out underneath a house in Galicia, Poland, which is of course now in the Ukraine. Whose house was it, and who was hiding them? A German, and not any old German. He is in fact anti-semitic, a drunk and a womanizer. Rula Lenska's voice wonderfully fits the words and th ...more
Cheryl
...It would never even have occurred to me to wonder about what war felt like. War was something in Tolstoy, not in my life.


It wasn't just the heartrending drama that moved me. Or the horrific ordeal called the Holocaust. Not even the fact that this is a true story, told from the point of view of a Polish-Jewish teenager.

No. What really moved me was the idea that an "avowed anti-Semite, misanthorpe, and despiser of all authority" was the man who saved Clara and her family. The man whom she sa
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Benjamin Stahl
The best stories and movies about the holocaust - what was arguably the most tragic occurence ever to darken the history of mankind - are the ones that don't so much focus on the terror and suffering that the Jewish people went through, but instead seem to highlight the strength and courage that these dark days summoned up in so many people, as they stuck together and supported each other, never losing hope that things would eventually be alright again.
That's what makes this true story such an
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Barbara
Jan 28, 2014 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Diane Bieber, Cheryl and Abby
Recommended to Barbara by: Chrissie
It would be so easy to enter this review of this sad, sad story with a discussion of belief in God. Time after time, war after war, centuries heaped upon each other, there have been senseless, horrifying murders of innocents (sometimes in the name of religion). Yet people who recount these events relate their moments of prayer, how their prayers have saved them and attribute their salvation to their faith. It is not that they have ignored the chaos around them, but few seem to question how a God ...more
Samantha
Clara's War is the most unbelievably astonishing and remarkably heart wrenching book I have ever read in my life. Is there is one book everybody in the world should read, it is this one. Told with the grace and emotions of Clara's life during the Holocaust, this is a story that you will never forget. It stays with you long after you read it. As a teenage girl, I cannot even begin to imagine going through what Clara and her family and friends did. I find it hard to believe that these horrible thi ...more
Lara
This book blew me away. It is the nonfiction account of a Polish-Jewish teenager who, along with seventeen other people, lived in a hidden bunker underneath a house during the Holocaust - and survived. Does that explain why the book blew me away? I find it difficult to write about my feelings toward anything Holocaust-related without sounding trite, which I think is part of the reason why I have procrastinated on writing this review for as long as I have. I'm dumbfounded that humans treated othe ...more
Susanne Behrens
I was profoundly touched by this book. I could not put it down. I wonder if I could find the strength needed to survive under the conditions Clara and her family had to live. I do not know how her parents and the other parents could go on with the tremendous personal losses they suffered. I highly recommend this book.

Amy
This book was intense. It told of the horrors this Jewish family and their friends had to endure in Poland. Overall it has a good message, but Clara Kramer tells it how it was - and the truth is sickening. This book is not for everyone, but I am glad I read it. I'd love to go to the museum in DC and see her diary from that time.
5 - Writing Style (Well done.)
5 - Kept me Awake at Night Reading (Yes, but it was pretty intense. I found myself needing to take breaks from it.)
5 - Good Discussion Book
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Correen

There were 5000 Jews in Zolkiew, Poland before WWII and just 50 survivors afterwards. Of those, all soon left because of pogroms and discrimination.

Clara and her family were among 18 persons who spent up to 18 months in a small bunker under the home of a very brave German spy who worked for the local police and withstood unspeakable odds to keep his charges safe. Clara documented this experience in a diary, now in the U.S. Holocaust Museum. This book is written from her diaries and interviews w
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Ann Riley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura W
This is one of those books that I hesitate to rate. I mean, the author, is just telling what happened to her and her side of the Holocaust and WWII. I was thinking about doing a discussion post and even started writing one, but then I couldn't think of anything to say. I mean, all I could think of was 'the Holocaust was bad' and 'this book definitely portrays that'. Which isn't much of a discussion post at all. So I've resigned myself to a review in the hopes I can emphasize enough that no matte ...more
Robert Kiehn
This book is based on a true story. All these events took place and were recorded in a diary by young teenage Clara Kramer. These events take place between 1939 and 1944 in the Polish town of Zolkiew, Poland during WWII and The Holocaust.

The Becks, a German couple with a daughter, Ala, take in 18 Jews when the Nazi's invade their town, hiding them in a pre-built underground bunker under their house... Much drama ensues over their 20 months of hiding. Partisan/Black Market activities taking plac
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Jonathan
Any and every Holocaust memoir is an important book by definition. This book stood out for me for several reasons.

The quality of the writing is certainly one such reason. Even compelling stories are not always well organized and well told. This one is. Clara is a keen observer of the people and events around her. And the book she and her co-writer have drawn from the raw material of her diary makes great use her talent.

Clara's War also helps us understand the Holocaust in probably the only way
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Heidi
How do you rate a book which so profoundly affects you and touches the deepest, darkest and scariest corners of your heart? And yet leaves me with a sense of hope and respect for the strength of the human spirit.

This narrative is an amazing story of survival against all odds. For 18 months, 16 year old Polish-Jewish born Clara Schwarz and 17 other Jews (including 2 young children) hid in a dug-out bunker underneath the house of a “Volksdeutsche” neighbour to escape Nazi atrocities committed agai
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Karen
Like reading Diary of Anne Frank, except they survive. This is a page turning tale of stupefying cruelty and deadly indifference set in Poland, where first the Russians, then the Germans, and then the Russians again after the War, terrorized the Polish, Jews and non-Jews alike. It is unfathomable to me that 18 people lived in a dug out hole under a house for two years, surviving only because of the goodness of a drunk, wife-beating Polish man. Since I've read this, I've been embarrassed about th ...more
Amy Limpitlaw
A bit hard to get into -- so many names and family relationships to keep track of. But a compelling, harrowing, tragic story. Definitely glad I read it.
Amy
I have read a lot of books about the Holocaust. A lot. Never before have a heard a story quite like Clara Kramer's. Based on the location of her hometown, WWII seems to have hit her home at a different time and with a different pace than the rest of Eastern Europe. There was very little conversation in this book, but it was never dry or dull. I was always fully engaged in his story. If you want a different perspective on surviving the Holocaust, family, and post-WWII life, read this book. Her st ...more
Elisa
“One Girl’s Story of Survival,” Clara’s War is based on Clara Kramer’s diary of her years spent hiding in an underground bunker with seventeen other people during the Nazi occupation of Poland. As Clara’s War has it, five thousand Jews lived in Zolkiew, Poland, at the start of World War II, and about 50 survived. Clara Kramer was one of the lucky ones. She survived the Holocaust because an ethnic German named Valentin Beck hid her family and others for more than a year in a bunker under his hous ...more
Vanessa Ramirez
Like any other Holocaust survivor, Clara gives us a good example of appreciating what and who we have. To think about it twice when we complain about our life, when there were and are still people out there that have it worst. My sister has always asked me "why do you like reading about this stuff? It's so sad." Because you don't learn enough from what it's known but from the real stories coming from real survivors.
Celeste
Carrie reccomended this book and it was one of the best I've read on WWII history. It's a true story which makes it that much better...but also that much more heartbreaking. The author takes part from her actual diary during the time and adds onto it and makes it all flow and feel like you are right in the bunker with them. Their will to live is incredible.
Laura
This was a difficult book to read. Clara and her family and friends, totaling 18, lived in the crawl space under a neighbor's house for 18 months during World War II. Everything they had was taken from them. Their homes. Their family businesses. Their friends. Their families. Clothing. Food. Books. Clara loved to read and talks a lot about how much reading meant to her and how she would read the same books over and over until the man who was hiding them would replenish her stock. She shared the ...more
Elice Mcneely
I struggled to read this book. . . .not because of poor writing but simply because of the subject matter. This book does not turn a blind eye towards what happened.....nor does it sugar coat it by any means. It's a hard read . . .at least it was for me because I can't even begin to fathom what she and her family went through. . . .living in a bunker that she helped dig underneath a house for 18 months. . . .

I think in addition to Anne Frank's diary. . .this should be added to the list of school
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Becki
Really enjoyed this book. A different perspective than being in a concentration camp - but still being held prisoner. I have actually never read The Diary of Anne Frank but this diary was very good.
EDian
I will read any book about surviving World War II. This takes place in Poland. The town was heavily Jewish and at the end of the war only 50 survived. 18 survived in a bunker dug under the house of one family. The house was taken over by the Becks and they became the saviors of these 18 people. Since Clara kept a diary during the years they were underground, Clara shares a lot of the events of their lives hidden basically in plan sight. As it turns out as the war progresses the enemy moves in ri ...more
Alicia Davidson
Wow this book is mind blowing! It is devastating & shocking! I have read many WW2 books but nothing like this, nothing so close to the truth! This book blew me away, to me it could have been a completely made up story, exciting as it was! But to have it be real, made it even more amazing! This book tells you everything that happened from the Russians being the enemies, to the Nazis and finally to the Russians being the rescuer! & to know that there was trully beautiful people like the Be ...more
Jackie
This is the memoir of Clara Kramer, a young Jewish girl in Poland. When the Nazis invade Poland, Clara and her family and another couple are taken in by the Becks who hide them all in a bunker under their house. For 18 months, Clara and the others endure horrendous conditions, heat, cold, starvation, lice, fleas, fevers, the loss of family members, and the constant stress of knowing that one false move could mean death for all.

Like Anne Frank, Clara keeps a diary of her experience and she tells
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LaNae
There were many things that stood out in this Holocaust memoir of suffering, loss, determination, and survival. How a person acts in times of trial, stress and persecution says a lot about that person's character. There were real life examples of evil, selfishness, sacrifice, and goodness. I could go on a lot about some of the individual choices of so many characters (even minor ones) in this book. However, I keep thinking about the Beck family, who put their lives on the line by harboring 18 je ...more
Susanhayeshotmail.com
For some reason I am somewhat addicted to WWII survival stories and loved this one. Clara Kramer, a young teen at the time, kept diaries during their time in "the bunker" and this memoir is based upon those diaries and her recollections. Clara, her family and eventually 3 other families spent more than 18 months living in a crawl space under the home of a "righteous Christian family." This righteous Christian man was also a self proclaimed anti-Semite, a drunkard, and a philanderer who selects o ...more
Michele
Astonishing. You wonder if they knew how bad it was really going to be if they still would have agreed to go into hiding?

I have to say, I just really loved Mr. Beck. What a wonderful man, and yet he had so many faults, but you just couldn't help but appreciate him.
This is an amazing book. It is well-written and there were times I could not put it down.
It is also fascinating to see the importance of gossip during a war. They glean so much of what is going through gossip. I think gossip gets a
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Ellen
I always find it hard to believe the cruelty that reared it's ugly head during the Holocaust and what many people had to endure during their struggle to survive the Nazi's and anti-Semetic behavior.

This book is based on the diary that the author kept during 20 months of hiding in a dirt bunker under a house often occupied by Nazi soldiers and sympathizers. Her protector, Mr Beck, was a man "known to be an alcoholic, womanizer, and a vocal anti-Semite" who hated the Nazi's and their murderous be
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Clara Kramer (née Schwarz) and her family were among the approximately 5,000 Jews in Zolkiew, Poland, before World War II. At the end of the war, she and her parents
numbered among the approximately 60 who had survived. Kramer is the cofounder of the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University. She lives in New Jersey.
More about Clara Kramer...
Clara's War: A Young Girl's True Story of Miraculous Survival under the Nazis

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“There are people who are simply gifts to everyone they meet.” 29 likes
“I now knew there was no such thing as a broken heart. It will go on beating to taunt you and mock you and tell you that even in grief it is indestructible and full of love.” 8 likes
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