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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  5,646 Ratings  ·  414 Reviews
“A superlative memoir of survival….Few wartime memoirs convey with such harrowing immediacy the evil of the Nazi genocide.”
Daily Telegraph (London)


“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. In the classic vein of The Diary
ebook, 285 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2008)
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Shannon Fish The age at which the atrocities of the Holocaust And WWII are appropriate study, perhaps middle school age range. Clara was age 15 when she started…moreThe age at which the atrocities of the Holocaust And WWII are appropriate study, perhaps middle school age range. Clara was age 15 when she started her diary, which is the basis for the memoir, so reading at age 15 would be a powerful connection.(less)
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Community Reviews

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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
...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 s
Benjamin Stahl
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Laurie Notaro
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for anyone interested in Holocust memoirs and diaries. 18 people spent 18 months in a four-foot high hand-dug bunker under one the hidden's houses; their maid and her notirously anti-Semetic husband cared for them, risking their lives as Nazis and SS moved in. Harrowing, compelling and miraculous. Simply, but perfectly written. Highly recc.
Susanne Behrens
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

May 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dominique Kyle
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2nd-world-war
When you walk round Zhovkva, Clara's home town, the huge burned out synagogue is still there, its ruins completely untouched because no-one knows what to do about it. When we knocked on the door of the huge civic buildings to ask if they had any records to look at, he said no, they'd all been taken to L'viv, and were we Jewish? No we weren't - my father in law's family lived in Zhovkva and at the start of the war the Russians invaded and took my father in law away to a prison camp in Siberia. Th ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Ann Riley
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Birgitte Bach
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Rystende beskrivelse af det helvede Clara måtte igennem for at overleve den intensive og brutale Holocaust nazisterne satte i gang. Det er en skrækkelig beretning, men det er så vigtig at historierne bliver fortalte, så vi aldrig glemmer!
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura W
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, recs-barb
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
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
A piece that can stand with other great holocaust literature. Clara describes her life and Polish town a bit before Sept. 1, 1939, but most of the book describes her Jewish family's struggle to survive for the next 6 years. Some members of her family and neighbors end up spending nearly 2 years below the floor of a house. Clara records much of what is going on during this time in a diary, which is the basis for the book. I like the fact that there isn't a lot of "day XX, same as day YY," kind of ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vanessa Ramirez
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of novels written about the Holocaust then this is the book for you. I loved this novel and felt attached to the writer from the very beginning. The story itself is amazing and it really makes you think about the will of the human spirit and what people can endure. The book is eloquently written and flows well throughout. The story ties off the loose ends and makes you thankful for your own life and family. Definitely one of the best holocaust books I have read.
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shelly Mullen
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book ten stars, I would! This book is great! It is the true story of a holocaust survivor and her family, and the Becks, who helped 18 Jews survive the holocaust. I could not put this book down. It should be mandatory reading for high school students, so they learn what persecution Jewish people went through from the Nazis. I highly recommend this book!
Clara Kramer wanted to survive the holocaust. But she was a Jewish girl at the time so it was hard. So she tried her best and hid from the Nazi's. Then she was able to survive the holocaust and live many years later/
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pre mna velmi silna knizka. Dokazala som si podla Klarinych opisov a prilozenych fotiek aj lepsie predstavit ako bunker vyzeral co ocenujem. Odporucam kazdemu koho tematika holokaustu zaujima a knizke nemam co vytknut.
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amy Limpitlaw
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A life enriching read ~ so beautifully written ~ such an incredible story.
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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...

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“There are people who are simply gifts to everyone they meet.” 34 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.” 10 likes
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