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Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,562 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
"Ann Kirschner allows her mother's poignant story to emerge from these heartbreaking missives, filling in the gaps with a dignified, quietly eloquent connecting narrativean incredible journey through hell and back" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

For nearly fifty years, Sala Kirschner kept a secret: She had survived five years as a slave in seven different Nazi work camp
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Free Press (first published 2006)
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This is a memoir based on more than 350letters, photos and a diary kept by Sala Kirschner. Jewish and from a deeply religious family, she spent five years working in seven different labor camps. She was lucky to have survived the Holocaust, yes, but those years were filled with hunger, fatigue, illness, great sorrow…. and a strong will to live. Her children knew she had been born in Poland and that she arrived as a war bride in 1945, but she would not speak of her past. For nearly fifty years sh ...more
Deanne Patterson
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I am almost at a loss of words as I try to wrap my mind around what I just finished reading. The book is a nonfiction book. This book just shows how strong the will to survive is despite the circumstances presented. I really hope some of you will have a chance to read it by borrowing it from the library or another source.
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a fascinating book. Although I already knew a fair amount about the Holocaust, I did not know about the labor camps. I also was not aware of the amount of mail between those still at home and those in the camps. This book provides an understanding of the life of those who were not in hiding.
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
This is the story of Ann's Mother, Sala, who went to a German labour camp in place of her older, but more frail, sister Raizel. She survived 5 or 6 different camps before being liberated in 1945. Sala managed to save all her wartime correspondance from her sisters and friends, hiding her bundle of letters at each new camp. After the war she emigrated to the USA as a war bride knowing very little English and made a home and family for herself and her husband, Sidney.

Sala made friends of both fel
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book. The pedigree chart at the end was jolting. I'm used to seeing pedigree charts that get larger and larger with each younger generation in the family. To watch one shrink like that really drove home the impact of the Holocaust in a very visceral way to me.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a gift in more ways than one. From a historical perspective, it gives us insight into life in Nazi labor camps. We know the sad stories of Auschwitz and Dachau, but there were other camps whose stories are less often told and remain unknown. Sala was in those camps, and she kept (with great difficulty and in much danger) what amounts to a written historical record of her time in those camps. This book is based on a cache of letters, photos, postcards, birthday cards, etc. that young ...more
Wonderful memoir of Sala's life during World War II as told by her daughter, Ann.

Ann knew little about her mother's life during the war beyond the fact that she was from Poland and had served in a Nazi labor camp. Her mother would not volunteer any other information beyond that. Then one day, just before Sala went in for heart surgery, she gave her daughter a box full of letters from her life in not just one, but seven labor camps within five years, and told her daughter, "What do you want to kn
Betsy Wachter
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in WWII memoirs
Recommended to Betsy by: Book discussion group
The author's mother had always kept her WWII experiences to herself. However, when she faced heart surgery, she gave to her daughter letters and photos that detailed her time spent in labor camps and her struggles to find the remains of her family after the war. The author adds her research to these documents and creates a moving story that adds significantly to the body of Holocaust memoirs. Inspirational.
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great read. It is a true story about a jewish girl who, while still in her teenage years back in 1941, was put into a jewish labor camp during WWII. She was later transferred to a concentration camp where she stayed until 1945, when it was liberated. This book is written through the letters she received from her family and friends while in the labor camp. This is a powerful book about the Holocaust.
Eva Leger
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: memoir fans
Recommended to Eva by: library
very good book...I liked the writing, how it didn't bore me after I was about half way in. Told enough (but not too much) about secondary characters to keep me wondering what happened next tot hem also, tells about her love life (if you can call what she was allowed to have a love life) and overall I was impressed with the book.
Susan Bradley
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Robert, Teal, Alexander, Lenora
Shelves: history
Very amazing story of a woman's survival through 5 years of labor camps during Nazi Germany accompanied by letters from her family and friends which she managed to save during this entire time at great risk to herself. Quite sad to be reminded of mankind's inhumanity to man.
Jul 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazingly touching story about the Holocaust that is truly heartbreaking. Written by her daughter, this is a real-life story of a woman who worked in the Nazi slave labor camps during WWII and survived, but kept her previous life a secret for 50 years.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good book. The author is Sala's daughter and she weaves a riveting tale culled from her mother's memories and correspondence from her 6 years in a Nazi labor camp. The history of the labor camps was very interesting and is not very well known.
Judy King
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author wrote this book as a biography of her mother, a survivor of the Nazi Labor camps in WWII. Told through the letters and postcards Sala saved at great risk to herself, she draws a touching picture of a young woman struggling to survive.
Oct 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This non-fiction book recounts the author's mother's experience during the Holocaust. It was really interesting, and I learned a lot.
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
I can't even imagine the horror of living through the Holocasut. This book made me feel as though I was living through this with Sala.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
I learned a few things I didn't know. (not a big surprise). I won't mention but it shocked me because they did not follow my perception of the camps.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well-written book! I am a history buff and even though alot of the Holocaust is awful, this was based on a true story, which made it even more powerful.
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My sister recommended this book to me (thanks Lis). It made me think about how important our relationships are, regardless of the circumstances of our lives. I really loved this book.
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly inspiring to read this amazing woman's story of how she survived and overcame the horrific times in a Nazi work camp during WWII.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable book. A story that will have an effect on you long after you read it. It provdes a deeper understanding of young Jewish women and their struggle to survive the Holocaust.
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another very good book about WWII.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book, but the subject matter is harsh (Nazi work camps and the victims of genocide/ethinc cleasing). But very insprirational.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is with mixed feelings I write about this wonderful book, told in beautiful, simple prose by Kirschner. The style is solid and often the passages from letters that the author chooses often to quote in their entirety, are unembellished. The decision to include them with little surrounding often makes one impatient of their commonality. But perhaps that is the point. The people of the book are exactly that. The grey man who waited outside the shul, never spoke after he had ushered me in, nor wo ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I browsed through some of the reviews posted here. I was curious to see what those who gave the book 5 stars said compared to those who gave the book 1 or 2 stars. In my opinion, we are too critical at times. Some reviewers complained the book moved too slowly or that the letters included were "too boring." We are reading a true story of Sala's family and friends during the Holocaust. It is what it is. I thought Anne Kirschner did an excellent job telling the story as she understood it after cou ...more
Mindy Hall
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I was a middle school student I have been reading historical fiction and nonfiction books about the holocaust. Like many, I am both fascinated and horrified by it all. I knew very little about Jews being used as slaves in labor camps.
Late fall, 2017, my niece was in a very moving high school production called “Letters to Sala.” The play is based on this book. I immediately bought the book; I had to know more.
Sala’s daughter, Ann (the book’s author) did not know much about her mother’s pas
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another differing experience to the holocaust. Sala voluntarily takes her older sister's place on a list of those selected to go to a work camp. Through shear luck she survives 5 years in various work and concentration camps. The letters that she received from friends and family tell her story. I enjoyed this book but I tired of reading some of the letters that Sala received from her sister. The sister seemed to berate Sala for not writing, then not writing enough....made me want to slap her!!!
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love holocast survivor stories. This is sure to make you mad and sad. But? The triumph makes me so happy and helps me be stronger in my everyday normalized life of the 20th centrury USA. This story is told through letters and has a different spin than some others I've read. Loved this format. So happy she was able to interview Sala, her mother , before she passes.
While I enjoy holocaust stories and survivor testimony - I did not enjoy the writing style of this book. This book was written by a survivor's daughter attempting to tell her mother's story through letters that her mother saved.

The author's style comes across more as a term paper/thesis as the author attempts to place emotional events of survivors into a historical setting. While it is well researched, the result is that it detracts from the emotional nature of what each individual endured.

Sara Marks
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Sala's Gift at Book Expo in 2006. I admit, I am a bit of a sucker for Holocaust related memoirs and biographies. I have already reviewed a couple of them here. It's my own religious history and I have been studying the Holocaust since I was a teenager. That's not why I picked up this book at Book Expo. Kirschner happened to have written something about her experiences trying to edit Wikipedia to include content from her book about Ala Gertner. Gertner was friends with her mother and ...more
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