I Shall Live: Surviving the Holocaust Against All Odds
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I Shall Live: Surviving the Holocaust Against All Odds

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  54 reviews
I Shall Live tells the gripping true story of a Jewish family in Germany and Russia as the Nazi party gains power in Germany. When Henry Orenstein and his siblings end up in a series of concentrations camps, Orenstein's bravery and quick thinking help him to save himself and his brothers from execution by playing a role in the greatest hoax ever pulled on the upper echelon...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Beaufort Books (first published 1987)
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This was a horrific story, yet it wasn't totally depressing because the author never lost hope. It is hard to describe - the things that happened to the people Hitler labelled 'sub-human' during this period in history are almost unbelievable. However, they are are so true. Shame on all those who turned a blind eye to what was going on, and many thanks to the few who stood up for what was right. I highly recommend the book. It won't resonate the same way for many, but FOR ME it reinforces my reso...more
Neeraj Handa
A very profound personal account of the struggle of the human will to survive against all odds. This book opened my eyes to the brutality of the Nazi regime, and gave me a real sense of how the darkness in one man has the potential to devastate the whole world.
I Shall Live was a moving story of Henry Orenstein and his family’s will to survive the holocaust. What caught my eye was their involvement in a “Chemical Commando” group of chemists, scientists, and mathematicians to supposedly develop secret weapons to help the Nazis win World War II. It turns out this group was a hoax pulled on the Nazis because the people involved never developed anything of value for the Nazi war effort.

It was fascinating following the Orenstein family and all the things th...more
May 01, 2012 Yvette added it
Perhaps it was just the kindle format, but information seemed to be jumbled. They add things to the middle of the book (new information) that discussed things that have not yet happened in the book. That is a formatting error. The writing is eloquent, however, I had trouble feeling for the patient. The tone seemed somewhat sterile. His knowledge and inclusion of detailed war progression was interesting but at points in the story I felt as if I was reading an encyclopedia article instead of a boo...more
I have not even finished this book yet but I am giving it 5 stars. The author may not be the most eloquent writer, but his knowledge of progression of events in Europe as they happened along with his own experiences is astounding! I have read several holocaust survivor memoirs but this is the first to really give me an idea of the dreadful time in Poland before the Nazis even invaded. I am astonished at how anti-semitic the population already was and how supportive they were of the Third Reich's...more
Lisa Helms
I read this book very quickly. I loved it. Very sad and I found it so unbelievable that human beings could treat other human beings the way the jews were treated! This book is very powerful and I can't get it off my mind.
This is one man's account of his life as a Jew in Poland during Hitler's rise and fall. A very well written memoir. It follows his life as a child growing up in Poland, to escape and hiding in Russia and the Ukraine, and the usual fate of most Jews in those areas - into multiple concentration camps. His real life story shows the holocaust through the polish and russian angles which I have not been as exposed to in literature. So often the focus is from the perspective of living in Germany and fo...more
Trudy Schwartz-burrill
I was interested in this story for sometime and finally read it (listened to it on Audible read by Henry himself.) I was not disappointed. The book was good and was packed with factual war news. His emotions were kept at bay. I understand this to be something very regional and real it disturbed some listeners that he read his book himself. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much had someone else read it. The men I know from that part and time in the world are quite matter of fact people. I...more
An incredible first person account of the horrors subjected to the Jews during Hitler's reign of terror. Henry Orenstein was sent to 5-6 different concentration camps, I found it interesting how each one was different. I shared the author's sentiment that it was almost dumbfounding how one human could be so detached from another's suffering, the horrible treatment by not only the SS guards but also by other Jews toward their "brothers". Despite witnessing terrible things, the author never lost h...more
Jacob O'connor
How much evil is in our hearts?

I can't stop thinking about this book. Its the story of holocaust survivor, and it's absolutely heartbreaking. I'm fascinated by WWII Germany. I've lived in a sheltered bubble. The worse violence I've seen was on the middleschool playground. The greatest injustices in my life are people driving too slowly in the passing lane. Yet here we have an entire country spearheading the most depraved possible agenda, and the rest of the world looks on with apathy.

Yet, ther...more
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Jon Larson
A great story about from a Polish man who survives the Holocaust. I have read a few of these types of books and I love them all. The common element in all of them is the level of depravity that the human being will sink to in difficult times. He was in 4 major camps and through it all, he categorized people into 4 basic groups.
1. A small number were brutal by nature.
2. A fairly larger number were of low character. They would steal, beg, push themselves in front of others with total indifferenc...more
Taylor Church
This was a gripping memoir that was especially cogent for me since I was reading it in Poland, whilst on a Holocaust tour. Nonetheless, the writing is captivating and the stories are heart churning. Mine was a first edition, that happened to have quite a few typos, but that would be the only fault in the text. A must read for anyone wanting to understand life in the camps.
In this stark, unadorned memoir of the holocaust experiences of a family of Polish Jews, author Henry Orenstein states, "In the brutal atmosphere of concentration camps, there could be no pretense, no concealing one's true nature; it was there for anyone to see." As Orenstein relates his experiences of the many aspects of human nature in the concentration camps, he draws his reader in not through eloquent narrative, but rather by simply telling his story. It's brutal reality makes this book diff...more
A well-written and all-inclusive account of a Polish Jew and his miraculous survival of the Holocaust. This book relates the author's personal history with what was happening in the war front, giving the reader an idea about how Orenstein's experiences fit into the dynamic puzzle that was the Holocaust and World War II.

I have read several different accounts on Holocaust survivors (among those Night and Parallel Journeys, but this one felt to me as being the most complete. He describes his dail...more
A compelling and well written true story by a holocaust survivor. Surviving by fleeing, hiding, and then living through a variety of concentration camps and close calls, the author has memories that had to be hell to record. I am, however, so glad he did. There is no substitute for first hand accounts by survivors and I highly recommend this book. It is so amazing that survivors went on as they did - it would seem no one could ever function again having lived through such horrors. And yet, the "...more
Brandie N Cox

I enjoyed the book but was disappointed that there were no more details. For example, what were the barracks like? How were they arranged? Were all the guards inhumane? If so, how did anyone survive?
Põnev raamat, mis räägib ühe perekonna (juutide) lugu läbi Teise maailmasõja. Täiesti uskumatud juhtumised ja läbielamised. Kuigi tegemist on tõestisündinud looga ja kirjutatud mina autori enda poolt, siis sündmused ja pääsemised on nii uskumatud, et tundub pigem fantaasi romaanina. Kirjeldab mitme töölaagri eluolust, mis ei ole meeldivad, kuid näitab, et ka laagritel olid vahed.
Lisaks minu jaoks üks põnev fakt, et põned juudid pandi tegeme täiesti mõttetut tööd, mida öeldi olevat oluline teadus...more
Tracy Morton
I was looking for more human interest but this was a bit more history based.
True story of a Jewish man who stayed alive during WWII by joining a group of mathematicians helping the Nazis.
Ryan Moore
What an incredible story of survival and hope in the face of incredible odds.
Brittany Teaster
Heart wrenching, but so good. Great story of overcoming.
Sharon Huether
This is one of the best books I've read about the Holocaust. Henry Orenstein remembered all the dangers he and his family faced between 1939& 1945. He said he always chose the best plan when danger was present. He volunteered himself and his brothers and sister as scientists, doctors and mathematicians to engage in a chemical commando, saying that some were still students in these subjects.This work kept most of them alive till the end of the war. This book is so well written it's hard to pu...more
Amy  Katherine Brown
An excellent book whereby the author includes not only he and his family's personal experiences during the Holocaust, but he also manages to include the history of what was happening in the world at that time.

The fact that he included as much history of the war, battles and such made the book more complete, as one who knows WWII history could easily correlate what was happening on the larger level with what was happening to the author and his family.

A great book, and likely one I will read again...more
Impressive story. It did get a little repetitious towards the end and could have been tightened up with some pruning.
Riveting. Wow.
I have read numerous books pertaining to the Holocaust but this one really touched me the most. It was realistic and chilling but told the survivor's story in such a way that allowed me to see things from a different perspective. It also made me reflect more about my own family, wondering if their experiences were in any way similar...something that I will never know but find comforting somehow.
It amazes me that, after all this time, there are still things we don't know surrounding the Holocaust. Orenstein likely survived because he was in the Chemiker Kommando, a farce of a group that did pretend work to find a way to stop engines. There are countless stories of generosity, bravery, humanity, and heroism that the world will never, ever know about.
This was a great book!
I have a morbid fascination with stories of Holocaust survivors. I read almost every one I can find. This book is an amazing tale of how chutzpah and luck saved members of Henry Orenstein's family. Reading these books reminds me of the incredible power of the human spirit and the overwhelming drive to survive in the face of all odds.
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Henry Orenstein is a philanthropist, inventor, entrepreneur, and holocaust survivor. After surviving World War II, much of it in various concentration camps, Orenstein became a toymaker who convinced Hasbro to start producing Transformers in the U.S. He holds over 100 other patents, the best-known of which gave Orenstein the exclusive right in the United States to detect and display a player’s hid...more
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“Winter came to an end, and spring arrived, in its fully glory. I remember looking at the blooming trees and flowers and thinking of how incongruous is the beauty of nature against the ugliness of man.” 6 likes
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