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All But My Life: A Memoir

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  9,219 ratings  ·  702 reviews
All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein's six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty. From her comfortable home in Bielitz (present-day Bielsko) in Poland to her miraculous survival and her liberation by American troops--including the man who was to become her husband--in Volary, Czechoslovakia, in 1945, Gerda takes the reader on a terrifying j ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 31st 1995 by Hill and Wang (first published January 1st 1959)
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The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankNight by Elie WieselThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry
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27th out of 506 books — 2,052 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankNight by Elie WieselSarah's Key by Tatiana de RosnayNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Heidi Pikula
I should probably start out by saying that I'm not totally obsessed with WWII, Holocaust, concentration camps, terror, misery and death (here it comes...) BUT, I think I enjoy these stories because in each one, there is a story of HOPE, perseverance, and a remarkable accounts of humanity and triumph. It gives me a renewed sense of well-being, humanity, tolerance, strength and hope. No matter how bad my life seems to be, I can more easily remember that I really and truly have it SO very good.

"All
...more
Maggie
This was a favorite book from middle school. My mom wouldn't let me read Night yet (which of course I immediately stole off the bookshelf and devoured) so I started with this. Being a young girl myself, I think the story affected me in a way that it could not have if I had read at an older age. The copy I read was my mother's from when she was a girl. I lost this wonderful book (I could barely keep track of my own head in middle school) and cried bitterly. I still feel horrible about it. It woul ...more
Selina
Sep 28, 2008 Selina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This is my all time favorite book because what it did for me
during a very difficult time in my life. I was struggling with a horrible case of postpartum depression and, somehow, I came across this book that changed my life. I can never again TRULY feel sorry for myself. The trials I have endured are nothing compared to this story. It reminded me to be grateful for a crying baby, food in the refrigerator, a house to clean, a husband to kiss. Most of all I loved the way it ends!! Love can triumph
...more
Laura
Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the concentration camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry and you give it to your friend."

Gerda Weissman grew up in Poland. She has a loving, close family. We see the disintegration of normal life as her family is torn apart.

Gerda is deported and sent to various work camps and concentration camps. In the midst of Nazi cruelty and b
...more
Jennifer
I appreciated how this memoir started with German occupation rather than in the work/concentration camps. Somehow the in-town treatment of the Jews was almost more nausea-inducing to me than the more-commonly-repeated tales of the camps---not because the treatment was less humane in the towns but because the general public knew what was going on and let it happen; it wasn't just the military being cruel behind closed doors. The author keeps a rather calm tone throughout, which made it even more ...more
Rachel
It's painful to read--just as "Night" or "The Hiding Place" are. I had to put it down for a while to regain perspective: Life seems pretty gloomy when the stark reality of the holocaust is explained so eloquently. I picked it up again, though, and the "happy" ending was a reprieve.("Happy" being fairly trite, considering 6 million Jews tortured and killed.) How does this type of horror happen? Who could kill a child? A family? What lies dormant in us? It's probably not helpful to dwell on past i ...more
Stephanie
This book was written by my dear friend's grandmother. I have been lucky enough to know her, learn from her and be loved by her. What an amazing blessing that have been able to get a first hand account of a Holocaust experience that I will be able to one day share with my children. It is likely that by the time my children are old enough to understand and appreciate this story, there will no longer be any survivors alive. "Grandma Gerds" as I call her is an incredible woman that I am honored to ...more
Allison Wonderland
Perhaps it is a sense of morbidity that leads me to read the most heartbreaking memoirs. Perhaps it is an innocent interest in history. I think, though, that it is because I experience my life - my comfortable, easy life - so much more richly when I see how others have suffered and survived.

All But My Life is Gerda Weissmann's story of her experiences as a Jew during the Holocaust. It is unlike all of the other Holocaust memoirs I have read, perhaps because it is the first in which a female sur
...more
Wendy
All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein is a memior written about the authors's experiences during World War II. Gerda Weissman Klein was a Polish Jew along with her family who encountered many hardship from the German Nazis. When they first invaded, the Jews got threatened by German Nazi who invaded Poland on Spetember 1, 1939. It took the Germans only 8 days to conquer Poland. When they invaded they tooks Jews gold, autmobiles, bicycles, and radios. When they invaded the Jews were forced out o ...more
Kelli
Jun 02, 2008 Kelli rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Kelli by: Holocaust Museum
This is one of my most favorite books. Learned many things about life. It inspired me in many ways. I hope i never look the other way when someone is suffering. Makes me so grateful to tuck my kids in bed each night in clean sheets, with a soft pillow, in a warm house, well feed, and most importantly they are safe (no one trying to hurt them). We are truly blessed with the comforts of life right down to running hot water for bathing and being able to floss our teeth! Whenever I think my life is ...more
Jocelyn
I have read a few Holocaust memoirs (not a ton) and this is one of the best so far. What I liked was the way the author portrayed herself. She conveyed a sense of a strong personality, sensitive to others but not backing away from her values or her reality. It's a horrible story, of course; she spends her late adolescence in a series of work camps and ultimately survives a gruelling "death march." She loses her home, her parents, her brother, all her possessions (except for a pair of ski boots a ...more
Jasmine Walker
All but my life was a good book but it was also very depressing. Gerda's story was really touching. It started out in poland with her and her family trying to protect her father from knowing of the war. Because of his illness the family tried to keep stressful news under wraps. Soon it was hard for them to keep the news secret when the Nazi's invade poland and separate the families. This is the last time Gerda sees her brother. While at camp She is allowed to write letters and writes her brother ...more
Karen
This is a beautiful memoir of a holocaust survivor. The strength that Gerda had through this long captivity with extreme cruelty and death around her is unreal. There were several notable quotes. One of my favorites was:

"Why? Why did we walk like meek sheep to the slaughter-house? Why did we not fight back? What had we to lose? Nothing but our lives. Why did we not run away and hide? We might have had a chance to survive. Why did we walk deliberately and obediently into their clutches?

I know why
...more
Christina
At 9:10 a.m. Gerda Weissmann’s life ended; the Nazis invaded Poland and red, black, and white flags with swastikas hung from her neighbor’s windows. Uncertainty turns into upheaval first with the deportation of her brother and then with the loss of her family’s home. Her ill father becomes listless; her mother withdrawals into herself. And almost as quickly as it begins Gerda finds herself in the Bielitz ghetto where she separated from her father, then to a transit camp where she is separated fr ...more
Berrett
"You are lucky mother. If only I could be certain that someday my children would be standing on my grave."

I have read at least 10 Holocaust memoirs and although all of them tell very similar stories (idyllic pre-war life, initial occupation, hope and belief that the war will end soon, initial forced emigration, hardships of camp, summary executions, horrors of forced marches through snow, etc) I keep reading them because they are all special. The circumstances of each story may be similar, but e
...more
Melissa T
Such a touching story of a young woman during the holocaust. What amazed me the most was how she retained her humanity throughout her long years during WWII. And it had such a sweet romance at the end! Fabulous read. I actually think the best part was at the end and her descriptions of the liberation--I was on an airplane and I couldn't stop myself from crying.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

During a horrible march where everyone was starving: "Later, as the wagon rolled through the little
...more
Al_anna Smunt
Gerda Weissmann Klein recalls her life as a Jew during the Holocaust in Poland, and in the other countries she traveled to and worked in as a prisoner. I have to come clean with the fact that this book is the first autobiography I have ever finished in my life! I have always enjoyed fiction and nonfiction alike, but biographies were always dull challenges until this one. Though the prose leaves a little to be desired, I surprise myself when I say that couldn't put the book down.

I like that Weiss
...more
Lisa
I read this book because my high school kids are reading it in their Holocost class. I thought the author did a great job in telling her story and that of those who lived through it with her. One of the parts that really made me think was toward the end of the book when they were forced to march with little or no food and in very cold conditions. She stated how she stopped praying to God. She didn't know why because she was closer to her Maker at this point than ever. Later she thought about her ...more
Nanci de Suffren
Aug 03, 2013 Nanci de Suffren rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I was sitting at the reception table greeting guests for an event hosted by Chapman University. Gerda Weissmann Klein was the special guest. She came up to the table with a professor I know and although I didn't know who she was, never having met her before, I stood up to greet her and take her hand. There is a presence to her that reached out and touched my soul. Looking into her eyes, I saw a peace and strength that took my breath away. She recognized my reaction and she smiled.

She told her s
...more
Diane S.
I first heard about this book from my daughter who is a school teacher in Chicago. Apparently the documentary of this book had been sent to many of the school in the city. The impact is always so much greater when one is reading the words of another's life, so much more personal. I love that this starts out with her happy family, her brothers, her neighbors, her friends, such a simple life full of hope. Than they are confronted with the Nazi invasion and things began to change for them very quic ...more
Lindy
Wow! I couldn't put this book down. Being a true story, I at least knew Gerda lived, but it is truly a miracle that she did. I cannot possibly fathom all that she went through, the terrors and horrors of Nazi occupation never cease to amaze me, but I am so grateful for her willingness to face those horrors and let the world know. I appreciated Gerda's use of foreshadowing to prepare me for the obvious devastation that followed. I know that sounds funny concerning a Holocaust story, of course the ...more
Aadil Ali
I fell in love with this book when I started reading page one. I felt so drawn into Gerda's thoughts and feelings that it made me emotional at times. I love how she based the book upon her life, it made me as if I were Gerda in those events. The immense detail this book has makes it as if it is happening in front of our very eyes. I finished this book within a week. There is no negative comments to this book because I have respect for people who overcame such a struggle during WWII and the holoc ...more
Sam Jocas
This book was truly one that I feel i will never forget. Gerda Weissmann is truly a strong survivor, and the way she managed to survive the Holocaust, and win against the Nazis is dumbfounding. Her story not only is heart-warming but inspiring as well. I cannot say that I have read a better book that this in the past five years. The book itself was written not as a non-fiction book, but as a novel. It has symbols, themes, and other elements of literature that one would find in a regular fiction ...more
Alessa
I believe All But My Life is one of the most inspirational, well-written novels I have ever read. I appreciate all the mental pictures Weissmann-Klein paints in your mind. Her descriptive writing helps portray the book on so much more of a personal level. Obviously, the world I live in today is incomparable to that of the Holocaust, but it is as if Gerda helps you relate; as if she is speaking to you. I cannot tell you one thing I did not like, other than the confusion I suffered with. That incl ...more
Katelyn Crawford
I'm not typically a fan of Holocaust books, but I really enjoyed All But My Life . Gerda's hope and strength is so admirable and really made the book come to life. The fact that this novel is a true story makes it even more incredible. I also really enjoy that it has a happy ending for Gerda. She survived! Yes, she lost her family, which is absolutely awful, but she met the love of her life, Kurt. Then, the two of them have three children together. Times were tough for Gerda, but she had the st ...more
Brennan Hunt
I was required to read this book for Honors English. It would not be my first choice to read, but it was alright. I mean no disrespect to the author or any of the other people in this book, because what they went through is truly awful and inhumane, but I thought this book was kind of slow. It was non fiction, but it read like a novel, however I still had a hard time reading it because I thought it was boring. It did go into great detail and it really painted a picture of what the Holocaust was ...more
Adam
I think this was a great story showing form one girl's point of view just how terrible the Holocaust was. She did have it easier than some girls but it shows multiple camps and how some were worse than others. It shows just how badly it affected other girls and how they were, quite literally, worked to death. It shows how not just her but her entire family was split up for different jobs or sent to different camps. It shows how the Nazis showed that they didn't care whether the Jews lived or die ...more
Amanda
I truly enjoyed this book. It was definitely one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. Gerda Weissmann Klein tells her horrifying experience of living through the Holocaust from beginning to end. Though it is non-fiction, I believe this book read smooth and kept my attention just as well as a fiction book would. Through the terrifying realities exposed in this book, one is able to go deeper into the tragedies of the Holocaust through Gerda's first hand experiences. This book provides kno ...more
Merin Wood
For my Honors English class, I had to read All But My Life. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I liked knowing these events were all experienced first hand. I don't usually enjoy reading non-fiction books but this one kept my interest. It kept my interest because I wanted to know how Gerda would find a way to survive next. This book showed me a new side of the Holocaust. I knew the Holocaust was very sad but after reading Gerda's last days with family and crying though out the book, it ha ...more
Angela Myers
All But My Life was a decent read. It surprised and pleased me how many literary devices were in All But My Life as nonfiction usually does not have so many. I also liked how suspenseful this book was and how it completely redefined what a nonfiction book is. Although I have read other World War Two books I liked better, this book is a must read for World War Two and Holocaust fanatics everywhere! I would go as far to say that this is a good read for any history buff that wants to learn more abo ...more
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“Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the concentration camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry and you give it to your friend.” 30 likes
“He said I could make him happy. Then I understood the cause of my sadness. I didn't want to make anybody happy. I wanted someone to make me happy. I knew that there was laughter and I wanted someone who could laugh with me. ” 15 likes
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