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Clara's War

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  8,868 ratings  ·  590 reviews
On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. Three years later, in the small town of Żółkiew, life for Jewish 15-year-old Clara Kramer was never to be the same again. While those around her were either slaughtered or transported, Clara and her family hid perilously in a hand-dug cellar. Living above and protecting them were the Becks.

Mr. Beck was a womaniser, a drunkard
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 3rd 2008 by Ebury Press (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 he…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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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  8,868 ratings  ·  590 reviews

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Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Lisa Vegan
I loved this book. It was an amazing account of this woman, her family, her community, and what happened during the Holocaust in her area.

At the beginning of the book is a family free and a floor plan of the hiding place. Both were very helpful and I frequently referred to both of them. There were a few pages in a bunch more toward the back of the book than the front of black and white photos of Clara, and some of the people important in her life. I wish there had been more but appreciated the o
...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
Benjamin Stahl
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The best stories and movies about the Holocaust - one of the most tragic occurences ever to darken the history of mankind - are the ones that don't so much emphasise the (albeit very real) terror and suffering the Jewish people had to face, but instead reach into the darkness and shine a spotlight on the courage and compassion shown by many people as they stuck together and supported each other, never losing hope that the light would one day return.

That's what makes this true story such an emot
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Barbara H
It would be so easy to enter into 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 ...more
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 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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. ...more
Doreen Petersen
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Just as moving and heartfelt as The Diary Of Anne Frank. We must never forget. I would recommend this one to all.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a book. What a memoir. What a read.

The story of Clara Kramer, a Jewish girl who hid with her family for a year and half in a 'bunker' under a house during WWII. In blue-lined notebooks and with a single pencil, Clara kept a diary of what happened to her, her family and three other families hiding with them. No review can do this justice. It's like trying to describe the Diary of Anne Frank and walking away shaking your head, thinking - my little piece does not do justice to this.

When Clara
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Susanne Behrens
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.

I read this for Jewish History Month 2019.

Kolkiew, Poland during WWII. Clara Kramer (then Shawarz) hid with her family along with two other families and a married couple during the Nazi invasion and installation in a bunker under a friend of a friend's house. Three teenaged family members (including Clara) dug the bunker out of the earth, dug, scooped, and stomped down on the loosened earth to compact as no one could risk being seen tossing out dugout earth. Much effort as possible was made, yet
Dec 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Popsugar 2021-The book that's been on your TBT for the longest amount of time ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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

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
Akari T
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading Anne Frank's diary and learning about the Holocaust from a few other sources, I thought I'd gotten the whole picture. Oh boy, was I wrong! Clara Kramer (previously Schwarz) opened my eyes to another world far more dismal than Anne's. But who am I to compare these situations? No one can accurately describe the pain Holocaust victims and survivors felt other than themselves. However, I can say that Ms. Kramer allowed me to experience a fraction of that pain through her extremely deta ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Serena (thebookunicorns)
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This was, as all holocaust stories are, a very sad book. So many lives cut short, and so much hatred and cold-blooded killing. The fact that this was real makes it so much harder.

Clara's War follows the life of a Polish Jewish teenager, Clara Schwarz (now Kramer), during the Holocaust. She survives with her family because of the bravery and generosity of the Becks, a family who hid them during the course of the war in a bunker underneath their house. During this, Clara records everything in her
Betsy Marsey
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The next time I think I'm having a bad day, I'll remember Clara Kramer...a Holocaust survivor. Truly amazing to read excerpts from her diary and her recollections of her life from March 1940 to September 1944. Much of this time spent hiding underground with the help of a Gentile couple. This couple, a drunken Anti-Semite and his wife that raged about his cheating, were worshiped by Clara as her heroes and saviors. Sometimes, German soldiers and the SS lived above them so silence was survival. In ...more
Shelly deBraga
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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!
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.
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had been sitting in my book case, unopened, for a couple of years, after I had received as a present. (I think my aunt got it from some type of estate sale.) I honestly didn't was to read it, because usually I DNF World War II Historical Fiction.

Clara really brought me into how Polish people like her friends, and family were surviving during the Holocaust. I loved, loved, loved this book and after reading this I realized how much historical fiction aimed at middle-grades leaves out de
Maria Carmo
A magnificent account of life in hiding, this diary of Clara brings the reader to yet another form of survival: how eighteen people were saved by an ethnically German man in Poland, risking his life and his family's, in exchange for nothing but hard times during and after the war. This is not an Annex such as the one described in Anne Frank's Diary; this is a bunker under the floor where 18 people of different families had to keep down because there was not enough space to stand up, this is a sp ...more
Kathy Sebesta
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clara and her family survived nearly two years hiding in a bunker when the Nazis then the Russians then the Nazis invaded Poland and started killing Jews. This memoir is an elaboration of the diary the then-teenager wrote during this terrible time.

There is very little of the actual diary in this book - essentially only snippets that preface most of the chapters, each of which covers then weex or months. Rather, the diary entries serve to introduce her reminisces about what happened during those
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was hard to put down ... one of those that you want to just read in one sitting but don't have time to do so. And yet, the content is incredibly disturbing ... a grim reminder of the depths of human depravity and the powerful resilience of the human spirit in the face of incredible suffering. ...more
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Clara Kramer (née Schwarz) and her family were among the approximately 5,000 Jews in Żółkiew, 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.

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