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The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  2,516 ratings  ·  260 reviews
In 1943, with Lvov's 150,000 Jews having been exiled, killed, or forced into ghettos and facing extermination, a group of Polish Jews daringly sought refuge in the city's sewer system. The last surviving member this group, Krystyna Chiger, shares one of the most intimate, harrowing and ultimately triumphant tales of survival to emerge from the Holocaust. The Girl in the Gr ...more
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published (first published 2008)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

After watching Agnieszka Holland’s powerful film, In Darkness, I was delighted to find this story in the library. After finishing it, I learned that the film was not actually based on Krystyna Chiger’s story, but on an earlier story by Robert Marshall, In the Sewers of Lvov, which covers the same events.

The Girl in the Green Sweater is told from the perspective of Krystyna, who was only 8 years old when the Lvov ghetto in Poland was liquidated and the remaining Jews se
May 16, 2009 Cam added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
It doesn't matter how many different accounts I've read of the holocaust, I am still fascinated and touched by each one. I am in awe of the people in this book, and reminded that I don't know what true suffering is. It was interesting to read this story and think about my Macey who is basically the same age as the children in this story. Their childhoods were truly taken away from them. It's so hard to imagine what you would do in that mother's place.
It was also interesting to read an account o
The story of young Krystyna Chiger and her family in Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland is harrowing and beautiful. Upon the final liquidation of the Janowska concentration camp, Krystyna and her younger brother flee with their parents and quite a few others into the cold, uninhabitable sewers beneath the streets of Lvov, through which the rushing Peltew river courses.

They descend into the secret entrance with the belief that they will see the sun again in a few weeks. This, however, was not their lot.
If this book was a work of fiction, I would critique it by saying I enjoyed the author's journalistic style but the story was too far-fetched to ever really happen. I guess this is what many say or think when reflecting on the Holocaust, and with good reason. This is, indeed, a remarkable tale about the strength and depth of the human spirit, and about the human need for a family, a friend, or at the very least--an angel.
The green sweater mentioned in the title of this book is found in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This sweater was worn by the author when she was six to seven years old, when she lived in the sewers of Lvov. Lvov is now called Lviv and is located in western Ukraine. Then, during the war, it was part of Poland and was called Lvov. This sweater was knitted by the author's grandmother. When she wore it she felt the warmth of her grandmother's hugs.

What is spoken of
This is Krystyna Chiger’s memoir of her childhood during the Holocaust. A Polish Jew, her family was forced to hide from the Nazis lest they be exterminated during the “cleansing” of the town of Lvov. Though they were able to survive longer than many Jews, through her father’s ingenuity and sometimes sheer luck, they were eventually forced into the sewers underneath the city. There, along with a dozen or so other Jewish people, they hid for fourteen months, until the Russian army liberated the c ...more
Using the metaphor of carrying heavy baggage of memories of the Holocaust, author Krystyna Chiger ends her memoir with these words: "It would not be fair to suggest that our bag was heavier than most. It was just ours, that is all..." I picked my copy of The Girl in the Green Sweater up on a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. awhile back, but I put it aside after reading The Girl in the Red Coat which tells the story of the red-clad girl made famous in the movie Schindler's List, t ...more
Doriana Bisegna
What took the author so long to write this story? This story is unbelievable and should have been told decades ago. It is an unforgettable story that will resonate with the reader for a long time if not forever. Whenever we need to traverse a difficult period in our own lives, this should be the story that should have us drawing upon our perserverance and willpower. How a group of human beings can live for 14 months amongst the rats, sewage, darkness, cold and surrounded by mud strewn walls is b ...more
Johnna Jackson
I can't stop reading about the Holocaust! I just finished this book and have moved on to another memoir about this horrific time in history.

I was amazed that this book went as quickly as it did for me. There is little to no dialogue in this book. Most of the story is the author recollecting what happened during her ordeal of hiding with her family in the sewer. Krysha, her brother and parents hide for over a year in the sewer. A trio of sewer workers aid the group in their quest to survive the
This is one of those books you should read. Chiger's experiences during the Holocaust as she and her family lived in a sewer for months are awe inspiring. It's true the narrative isn't linear per se (it mostly is, but sometimes she tells you ahead of time what happens), but it feels as if Chiger is right next to you, telling you the story. And that's worth a lot.

Her parents were wonderful people.
With each book I read dealing with the Holocaust, I am overwhelmed by the human capacity for cruelty. Krystyna Chiger's families' experiences as they spent 14 months hiding in the sewers of Lvov (an area in the Ukraine near the Polish border) were horrifying, amazing, and inspiring. This is a story with true villians whose disgusting deeds are overcome by true heroes.
This was an amazing book. I enjoyed it. At first I thought it was a little repetitive, but then i realized how it was just reinforcing the whole book. I laughed once or twice and cried a few times with this one.
This memoir chilled me. Krystyna Chiger's simply told story of survival during the Nazi invasion of Poland is perhaps one of the best I've read. It isn't because it is Pulitzer-award winning writing -- it's not. It isn't because it was on the bestseller list -- it wasn't. It's because her family's survival is so unimaginable that even as I read it, I wondered how anyone could EVER live through it. Imagine living in the sewer system being hunted like prey. Co-existing with thousands upon thousand ...more
Katharine Holden
This is the most powerful book I have ever read.

So many awfulnesses. The Nazis who come into Chiger's family's apartment to pick and choose belongings like there's a yard sale going on...her grandmother bravely waving to her from the military truck that takes her and the other Polish Jews to their death...she and her little brother squeezed behind a false shelf her father builds for 12-14 hours at a time so they won't be found while he and her mother work at forced labor...the rats in the sewer
Aug 27, 2011 Meghan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meghan by: Shelia Burks
The more I read about WWII, the more I see the similarities of experiences, whether the person is from Germany, Poland, Russia, France, England, Japan, China, the US, etc. Each person's experience is unique and yet over and over the victims seem to tell of the same story and the persecutors seem to react in the same manner. In all, I guess it shows that humans are humans no matter where you're from, what language you speak, what religion you practice.

In Chiger's story, I learned a little more ab
By far one of the best books of this time period I have ever read. Well written. A real eye opener. I have read and thought about the Holocaust but this book really put a new perspective on it from a family not only able to stay together but to endure such hardships together and still have hope. I am in awe of the Chiger family. I knew Jews suffered and some more than others but never really put into perspective the children and what they went through. The Jews had hatred coming from all sides a ...more
Reviewing a memoir is always hard. This is one person's perspective on their life so who am I to judge? I have an obsession with WWII history and historical books on the subject. I love them, all of them, even when they seem a bit long winded or dry. My personal opinion is that this book can lean towards the long winded or detailed end of things at times. However, as we move further from the time of Hitler we cannot discount any survivors story, and the history is in the details. I do wish the g ...more
Jul 24, 2009 Joanne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 50-books-a-year
How horrible to believe that humans could possibly treat other humans like this! I have read many books about the treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust, but every time it just astonishes me that we can treat each other the way that these people were treated. This book is definitely a must-read and takes you to a place where you feel grateful that you never had to go through something this horrible, at least not my ancestors anyway.
Krystyna Chiger is the last surviving member of a group of Jews that survive the Holocaust by hiding in the sewers beneath the city of Lvov. Her story begins a couple years prior to their hiding. I found it notable that she felt like living above ground was worse than hiding in the sewers. The Jews were having businesses and belongings taken from them. Soldiers would come to their homes, and walk through to pick out and take whatever they wanted. Any resistance resulted in death or being sent to ...more
This Holocaust story is narrated by 7 year old Krystyna Chiger, forced to escape with her family and live in the sewer under her city in Poland for more than a year. Rats, mud, stench, cold and the everyday terror they may be discovered and killed by the Nazis, made it a hard book hard to put aside.
Barrie Gardner
I did not know much about the actual lives of Jews during WWII, but I would think it would be a work of fiction if not for the fact that it really happened. The cruelty, the abuse of power, the prejudice. This young girl's story was amazing. Her parents were such survivors and they never gave up. They were always optimistic and made the best of their situation.

My only criticisms would be that I wish she had included photos of the underground spaces she inhabited for 14 months. I couldn't quite g
Sharon Huether
To date this was the most courageous and horrifing Holocost stories I have ever read. The family of Krystyna, her mother , father and little brother along with many others spent 14 months in the sewers just to stay alive and not be captured and killed.
Lots of contradictions in this book which made it frustrating. The author also jumped around at the beginning of the book. The author is depending on her memories from over 65 years ago when she was only 6 to 8 years of age which made some of the content unbelievable. She mentioned stepping on a hat pin while walking in the sewer barefoot but suffered no ill effects. She commented how much she bled from this wound, enough to make her father stop and pick her up. How he could even see how much sh ...more
I have read a number of stories of individual survivors of the holocaust, yet this is the first one I've read where the family escapes and survives together. The family had several close calls, and finally must make a final escape into the sewers of the city. They remain there for over a year, surving thanks to the willingness of some sewer workers to provide the food and necessities for a price. I was moved by the strength and courage of this family, and the relationship they forge with one of ...more
Could you live with your family below ground in a sewer system while above ground the Nazis hunted for you?
I saw the foreign film "In the darkness" awhile back (Its in subtitles but very good) about the sewer inspector Lepold Socha that saved lives of jews by hiding them in the sewers.
To my surprise this is the memoir of one of the survivors that Socha saved, the young girl. The girl was young 7-8 yrs old so she recounts of what happened by memory but also uses her father's journals to tell this story. Socha was originally paid by them to save their lives but in the end it was humanity. Rats, lice,
I just finished reading "The Girl in the Green Sweater" recently, & I'll write a review soon. Here were my thoughts that I wrote while reading this excellent book:

A few years ago, I was first captivated by the author's interview on the news. The title of her book & her story always stood out to me, & I am thankful to finally have time to read it. I remember how she described how quickly she & her Jewish family had to go into hiding in World War 2, & the only place they had to
Abby Lyn
"It is not an easy thing, to tell the story of a difficult life," begins Chiger in this memoir, as she describes how her family survived the Holocaust by descending into the sewers beneath her Polish city, hiding in filth and darkness for fourteen months. And indeed it is also not an easy thing to read such a horrifying account, but this one was balanced, surprisingly, with humor and in the end, a sense of triumph. I watched the Polish movie based on this story, In Darkness, without awareness th ...more
I first heard of this story having dinner with the author about 25 years ago. Her and her family were friends of some friends and we in Lake Tahoe at a rib house. Beef ribs. I remember everyone giving me a hard time because I left so much meat on my ribs and then to hear of her story I felt a little shamed. That was such a long time ago so when I heard of this book I had to know more of what her and her family endured. Having heard all the horrible things the Nazis did during the war I do not th ...more
There are so many good books that deal with World War II, that describe the unspeakable cruelty and then bring to light the unimaginable courage and will to live in the face of that cruelty. And there is an endless amount of these stories. It can be difficult to be reminded of what a devastating a time it was. And it takes me off guard--every time--that such things occurred, that it actually happened, that there was a time and a place where people, millions of people . . . so many people . . . w ...more
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“I was a big philosopher when I saw on the chamber pot. I liked to sit and think and listen.” 2 likes
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