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Rena's Promise

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  4,696 ratings  ·  345 reviews
Sent to Auschwitz on the first Jewish transport, Rena Kornreich survived the Nazi death camps for over three years. While there she was reunited with her sister Danka. Each day became a struggle to fulfill the promise Rena made to her mother when the family was forced to split apart--a promise to take care of her sister. One of the few Holocaust memoirs about the lives of ...more
Published July 8th 1996 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published October 30th 1995)
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Heather Dune
I wrote this book with Rena and though Rena died a few years ago, am busy continuing her message of love to all people. If you are a fan of Rena's Promise, you can now find her on YOUTUBE. I have digitized her first public appearance and if you have never heard her speak or seen her, it is an experience you won't want to miss. She was such a bundle of energy, so animated and sweet and funny and REAL. People forget that Holocaust survivors are real people, who laugh and cry like we all do. Thank ...more
It is beautifully written and a remarkable story. One might be inclined to discount it, expecting a tragic misery memoir. But this story is in the vein of Victor Frankl; it's a story about how we survive, about how family and memory can lend individuals in the direst of circumstances the most incredible strength. Rena Kornreich was among the first transport of women to Auschwitz and she is also one of the few women from that first transport who survived to see the camp liberated. Sometimes the s ...more
Viktoria Jean
This book is a touching recount of the war in the eyes of two growing young women. Among the first 999 Jewish girls on the first transport brought into Auschwitz on March 26, 1942, was twenty-one year old Rena Kornreich-the seven hundred and sixteenth woman in that infamous death camp, Auschwitz. Two days later, she recognized her sister Danka among thousand other freshly shaved heads in Auschwitz where, together, they spent the next three years of their young lives as slaves to the Third Reich. ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Dyuti rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dyuti by: Arunima Coomar
"A promise is beauty kept secure
The exquisiteness of knowing what is to come..."

The book Rena's Promise is one such story of a promise made, and a promise kept, by a young girl to her mother, to always, and at any cost, to protect her younger sister. Unfortunately, fate had a cruel way of testing her: for the sisters were Jewish, living in the Polish country-side during the height of antisemitism in Europe -- the 1940's.

Written decades after her experiences at the labour camp along with her sist
Rena's Promise is a story of the human constitution pushed to its capacity. The story captures the normalcy of Rena's life before the German invasion of Poland in 1939, and then follows her life in first-person through the concentration camp she endured until freedom arrived in 1943. Within the camp, Rena Kornreich illustrates how many lived hanging by a thread; that if you simply willed yourself to die, you would. But Rena retained a fervor for life, largely in part by her sister, Danka, who ar ...more
Quinn Barrett
Wise Bear Books Reviews Rena’s Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam -- 5 Paws!

Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz, co-authored by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam, is a life-changing story not just for the women who lived to share the horrors of their experience, but for anyone who reads this personal account of the most heinous genocide of the 20th century. Many books have been written about the holocaust, Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps,
Heather Macadam
"The most important book of the modern age!"
Neal Lavon, Voice of America

"The most historically accurate book ever written of the first transport of women into Auschwitz--the only book ever written by a survivor of that transport, who survived 3 years and 41 days in the camps."
Irena Strezlecka,
Director of the Museum of Women at Auschwitz

On March 26, 1942, the first transport of women arrived in Auschwitz. Among the 999 young Jewish women was Rena Kornreich, the 716th woman numbered in camp.

I picked this book up for my Kindle when it was free several weeks ago, and as I look back through some of my recent reads, I realize I've been been on a Holocaust/WW II themed binge - three books in less than two months. I can't seem to devour enough. I've read true accounts, translations, and even a fictional story have graced my hands, heart, and mind recently.

Rena's Promise is a book that I want need must go back and read again, but I am afraid that I still won't be able to grasp the full i
I've only read 3 books thus far about Holocaust survivors and of those three this one seems to touch me the most. It's amazing how Rena was able to almost out-think her captors at the most difficult and deadliest moments. Her inner strength, devotion to her sister, and unwillingness to being selfish with whatever she happend to receive speaks volumes about how she was brought up and the compassionate person her mother must have been.

This story angered me, turned me cold, brought tears to my eyes
Heather Macadam
This is a new edition that addresses some of the issues in the print edition by rewriting the beginning of the book, where I meet Rena. I was never happy with that section and was not a professional writer when I wrote it. So my voice has been upgraded - I hope! Nothing of Rena's voice has been changed, though several stories that we cut have been added for the digital edition, which give the reader more insight to Rena and Danka. The epilogue has also been expanded to include my favorite scene- ...more
It took me a little while to get into this book. I felt disconnected by the author's style of jumping back and forth between her telling what Rena told her and Rena's own memories. I now see why she did it, though. She was letting us get to know Rena before being thrust into the horror of her life in WWII.
INCREDIBLE book. I am so sorry to hear that Rena passed away a few years ago. I would love to have met her. I am definitely going to look up the youtube videos there are of her. Beautiful, bea
I have read a few books from holocaust survivors and this one is very detailed yet not as emotionally difficult to complete as I initially thought it would be. I have a friend who travels to Bratislava (which I had never heard of before her). The city is mentioned three times in this book. Everyone should read stories like this to become more aware of true human suffering. We are so spoiled in this age. We throw food away, possess piles of clothes & electronics we can't live without, own hug ...more
Jennifer Nelson
Although extremely painful to read at times, this book is so beautifully written that it will touch you to the core. Rena and her sister faced suffering you cannot even imagine in Auschwitz and this book chronicles the ways that they strove to rise above the humiliation, the torture, the filth, the utter depravity and complete darkness of concentration camp life. Their commitment to decency and kindness to others and their complete and fierce loyalty to each other was utterly amazing to read abo ...more
I love books about the Holocaust, both fiction and nonfiction. So as I began this book, I was surprised to find that I found it to be somehow detached and non-emotional (if anything about this subject could somehow ever be that way, but I can't help how my mind works). What I was reading seemed to be relayed in the form of facts rather than feelings. However, that all changed very quickly, and I am ashamed to say that I ever felt this way at all.

Rena gives her account of living, and surviving, i
This is one of those books for me that I get emotionally involved, and when "rest time" is over at my house I just want to keep reading until I finish. Alas, two pouncing children can change one's mind quickly. Until another day...

I finished it, thanks to my husband taking the kids for a mommy break. This book was one of the best real life testimonials of a concentration camp survivor I have read as of yet. I hope people understand that I am not sick to want to know all of these awful things tha
Sylvia Harrow
Some might fear reading such a book, not wanting to know the horrors of the concentration camps. For those people, I would suggest they take heart and learn about the spirit of survival and the strength of human bonds and the way those bonds allow us to survive and thrive. This is a story of resilience, a story of sisterly love, and a tale of the ability to make the most out of a dire situation. You will immediately fall in love with the main character, Rena, and you will thrill in her love of l ...more
Kelli Oliver George
In general, I am obsessed with World War II and I have read a TON of Holocaust accounts. Quite frankly, I will never, ever read enough of these accounts because they all deserve to be be honored. I read this book in the span of 3 days on my phone. Yes, my PHONE. (Kindle App? WORD). From the beginning, I was completely taken with Rena's account of her experience in the camps and that of her undying promise to her sister, Danka. I finished the book this afternoon, on a weird, record ...more
This memoir of a holocaust survivor is truly unforgettable. Rena is so matter of fact with her story telling, that it's for the reader not to think that they are right there with her in the concentration camp. Rena was on the first transport to Auschwitz. She was tattooed number 1716. Her sister, Danka, arrived a few months later. Rena turned herself in to spare the family that was hiding her. Rena then begins her tale of horror of living in Auschwitz and then Auschwitz Two. She survived starvat ...more
Marion Marchetto
I have read many stories about the harsh realities suffered by the Jews during World War II. Nothing I've read comes close to the story of Rena's Promise.

We first meet Rena at her home in North Carolina and learn to love her vivacious manner and the loving interchange between she and her husband John. We also meet the author Heather Macadam, whose job was to take Rena's long-held memories of Auschwitz and put them into a contemporary book. The author's goal was to keep the memory of those Polis
Lindsey Keck
This novel is a memoir. This novel is about a girl named Rena and her sister Danka. They were brought into Auschwitz on the first Jewish transport from Poland. She was separated from her mother as soon as they got there. Rena promised their mother that she would look after and care for Danka no matter the circumstances. Fate plays a key role in the novel even though fate has a cruel of testing both the sisters. They were able to stay together, and they spent three years being slaves of t
I read this book in 1997, but just found it again. I remember it made a very lasting impression on me at that time, and I look forward to reading it again.

I've read this book before in 1997 while living in Germany. It's taken all these years to find this book again once I moved back to the United States. I have read many books about Auschwitz as well as other accounts from different camps... But this book is absolutely amazing in comparison. It's not that any one person's story is more or less h
Such an amazing tale of courage and triumph over evil! Rena was a young Polish Jew when the Nazis began their persecution and torment. She and her younger sister were assigned to Auschwitz and later Birkenau, where they were starved, beaten, and humiliated. By staying together they were able to keep going, even though they witnessed countless others perish around them. Let us never forget!
Patty Brandl
I gave this book five stars mostly for the content. I thought the writing was kind of erratic, especially in the beginning. It was confusing when the interviewer would talk about "her" and in the next sentence "my." But once Rena was on the first transport to Auschwitz, I couldn't tear myself away from this bone-chilling book about the atrocities that groups of people can commit against their fellow man. It was appalling how much worse the women were treated compared to the men in the death camp ...more
Susan Young
The other comments listed convey my thoughts about this book more eloquently than I. The story is amazing, & I thank Rena for reliving it so that future generations have a better understanding of what actually happened. It's also a deep insight into humanity at it's worst & best. I am so thankful for what I have & what I can do.
Rena's promise was truly inspiring by the strong connection her and her sister, Danka, had through every obstacle. It had a little bit of the romantic side at parts as Rena was finding love throughout her journey. This book was the perfect length for me; even if I spent a lot of my free time reading it so I could go back to my realistic fiction/romance books. Sometimes I'm actually into true stories/memoirs. Most end up boring but with this book being of the Holocaust it makes it so much more in ...more
This was hard to read and yet riveting....not because of the writing, but because of what took place. Unbelievable horrors and cruelty, and yet, the will to live wins. Rena and her sister are amazing survivors and do honor to those who weren't as fortunate.
It always amazes me to read or hear about the events at Nazi camps. Hearing the tale from a survivors perspective gives a better view of what we cannot even imagine happening. The book was an easy read that kept my attention.
One of the best memoirs of the Holocaust I have read to date. Rena's story helped fill in many questions I had about life in the camps that were left unanswered with so many others. This is a book that will stay with you.
Rochelle Eiseman
Hard to believe this is based on someone's actual experience; so horrific at times it felt like fiction. This was swell written account of two sisters experience through something I can't imagine surviving.
Cortney Maasjo
I absolutely loved this memoir. I have always been fascinated by the Holocaust and this story was another amazing tale of strength and courage in the face of the impossible.
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