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All But My Life: A Memoir

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  15,900 Ratings  ·  946 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
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 30th 1995 by Hill and Wang (first published January 1st 1959)
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Heidi Pikula
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Stephanie
May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katie
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
The artistry and vitality and heart with which Gerda Weissmann Klein brings to life her experiences as a young Polish Jewish girl during the Holocaust is nothing short of extraordinary. This is as moving and heartbreaking and life affirming as any book I’ve ever read. And perhaps its greatest triumph is that it brings back to life and celebrates the humanity of every individual who was close to Gerda, especially her mother and father, her older brother and her closest companion in the camps, a g ...more
Marialyce
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't possibly award any stars to this novel. There are not enough to even come close to the tragedy, the horror, and the depraved behavior that Gerta Weissmann suffered at the hand of the Nazis. She lost everything, family, friends, and came close to losing her life on many occasions. Starting at the age of eighteen, Gerda who had led a life filled with family love, would often think of her family and those thoughts seemed to keep her going with the hope that one day she would reunite with he ...more
Maggie
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't permit myself many Holocaust memoirs. I just can't stomach how dark the human heart can be. But, we've got a new leader taking office here in the U.S. come this January, and he says he doesn't like Saturday Night Live, and he doesn't like Vanity Fair magazine and he doesn't trust the New York Times. . .

And, I'm okay with any of our leaders EXPRESSING their likes and dislikes, just as I'm okay with any citizens doing the same, but when a leader threatens to shut down programs or magazine
...more
Selina
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Allison Wonderland
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Rachel
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gary
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this fascinating volume Gerda Weissmann talks about her experiences during the holocaust from the age of 15 to 20.
She tells of three years in a labour camp , and three years of a forced winter march from Poland to Czechoslovakia.
What makes this book remarkable is the decency and love that sustained her through these horrific times , and her incredible strength of character.
Through her memory , she uses vast decriptive powers to redraw the picture of what life was like in those harrowing years
...more
Laura
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
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
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Olivia
This book. It was amazing, heartbreaking, lyrical, shocking, and emotional. Gerda's personality is similar to mine, and so many things she said I felt and understood so well. This is one of those books that you just can't even grasp when you've finished. The ending was amazing, and Kurt...*sighs happily* Love this book so much, although it was painful and emotional for me to read. It opened my eyes to how much I complain, and that I take the little things in life (and freedom) so much for grante ...more
Kelli
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lori
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, memoir
This book, a memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein was written in 1957 with an epilogue written at the end in 1995. Gerda was a teenager when the Germans invaded Poland. Her family, father, mother, and brother were forced to live in their own basement. soon after her brother Arthur was taken away. A few years later the family is separated and Gerda is taken to a camp where she is forced into slave labor working on a weaving machine. she is friends with three other girls at the camp where they have lit ...more
Sissy
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, holocaust
I have to start this review by saying, I saw Mrs. Klein's documentary “ One Survivor Remembers” several years ago. I watched it many times. The documentary was very good.... but the book was INCREDIBLE!!!!!

It was the most moving and emotional book dealing with the Holocaust that I ever read..
I cried from beginning to end, because I knew the basics of her story. I strongly recommend this book for those interested in learning what actually went on during the Holocaust.

Thank you to the author (an
...more
Jasmine Walker
May 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Diane S ☔
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Berrett
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jocelyn
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Charlie
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ww11
This book has nearly 11,000 ratings and nearly 800 reviews and the rating averages 4.3 out of 5. Need I say more?
Gerda Weissmann Klein should be read by anyone interested in what the holocaust did to the Jews, especially the young that were able to live through death camps and the death march AND to be able to write about it. Today Gerda is still alive at 92.
I will loan this book out to friends, but it will have a permanent spot on my bookshelf.
LeeAnn
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I don't think I can review TG is book. It touched me. Deeply. I think it will be the best book I read this year.
Stacey
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I seem to be on a real World War II kick. It's so fascinating to read different people's accounts and the ways they were able to get through the war mentally and physically. One line that stood out to me in this book is, "Survival is both an exalted privilege and a painful burden." What a tragic part of our history. Gerda Klein is one of my new-found heroes.
Pamela
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great Holocaust memoir.....beautiful story and really worth the read. As all Holocaust survivor stories, really touched my heart.
Michelle
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like memoirs, people who like holocaust or survival stories
I loved this book! I had a hard time putting it down. I am anxious to see the documentary now, and wish that I could hear her speak.

I really appreciated the author's optimism and boldness and bravery. Don't get me wrong, there were times when she did consider the alternative to surviving, but each time she found a way through it and continued to march on. Her story was inspiring to me because we each go through trials in our lifetime, some much more atrocious that others, but she reminds us to
...more
Emily
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who is not a native speaker of English, Gerda Weissmann Klein writes masterfully. Her recollections of the time she spent as a young Jewish girl under Nazi rule are vividly, heartbreakingly eloquent. Klein spent the first part of the war with her parents in their home town of Beilitz, Poland, marginalized by the German invaders and forced to live with more and more hardship before finally being separated from them and sent to a series of work camps. After being forced to march from th ...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
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
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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.” 56 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. ” 19 likes
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