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

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  985 Ratings  ·  73 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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Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
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
Jacob O'connor
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.  

Lisa Helms
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
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.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 12, 2012 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
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
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
Sharon Huether
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Kevin Godfrey
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very Strightfoward Detailing of One Family's Hardships During WW2

This book presents one man's perspective of what happened to his family during WW2. The "facts" as the author presents them may not be entirely accurate since it appears he wrote this many years later and doesn't contain the depth you will find in a more comprehensive history. However, it does provide a more personal perspective than a comprehensive history and is worthwhile. For those interested, KL: A History of the Nazi Concentr
Amy  Katherine Brown
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jane Athanus
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jane's Good Reads

Ornstein's intelligent moves saved his life, and other lives, while in hiding and later in various concentration camps. How he did it made fascinating and spine-tingling reading. God bless him! I couldn't wait to get to the end to find out how he did it. I would hope that I had his courage and the smarts to survive while helping others along the way.What a great man. He deserves all his successes since then/
Frances L. Ehrig
Surviving Hell

Man's inhumanity to man. When will the human race ever learn to stop hating. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be never. I see the same things the Orensteins went through happening again. I'd like to believe "never again," but people don't seem to learn and always appear to look for a scapegoat. This book should speak to all who read it. It is uplifting to know a few people have good hearts and a love for their fellow man. But too many do not!
Taylor Church
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Henry Orenstein was something of a child prodigy -- he read early, widely and seemed to be able to retain all of it. This is an incredible advantage for a memoirist. He doesn't detail his later accomplishments -- Transformer toys and a patent for a system to view hole cards in Texas Hold 'Em -- but his exceptionalism shines through throughout.
Shannon Whitman
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Author is intelligent from birth to old age. Takes you along a gripping trail of war with him and his family members where some points it was pure luck that kept them alive.
Terrorizing and heartwarming at the same time. I've read it twice.
Peter Einstein
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book almost 25 years ago, after meeting the author, Henry Orenstein. His story of survival was so powerful, inspiring, and affecting, I still think about it after all these years. Somebody should make a movie out of this book!
Caroline Baer
Feb 26, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: may-x-2016
I saw this book in my GoodReads feed as recommended to me. I am interested in the Holocaust, especially nonfiction narratives and first-person accounts. I thought that this book would be right up my alley and I am excited to give this book a try.
Tracy Morton
I was looking for more human interest but this was a bit more history based.
3.5 stars.
It's well written, definitely interesting, and I'd encourage others to read it, but I can't really say that I enjoyed this book. I'm glad I read it, but the subject matter is rather horrific (obviously) which makes it pretty impossible to enjoy -- that's not the point of it, anyway! Reading was slow, in fact, even given the length of the book, because the story is honestly hard to read through.
Most of the book was really gripping - how these people found a way and a will to live is a
Elice Mcneely
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It's hard to praise a book of this nature but this book deserves praise on the sense that it's a well written account of what Henry and his family faced during WW2

He's brutally honest about what they had to do to survive and what he witnessed during that time.

Due to the nature of the subject matter, it was hard to read without reading thru tears.

I'm thankful he put pen to paper to record his story... lest it be forgotten
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trudy Schwartz-burrill
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Austin 4 Roy
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I Shall Live: Surviving the Holocaust, by Henry Orenstein, is an extremely powerful book with stories of true courage and determination in order to survive one of the most horrific events in history. Narrator Henry Orenstein describes the courageous acts performed by his family and friends in order to save their own family and loved ones. One particular event that occurred before the invasion of Poland that was very moving was when his friend Golda, “Ignoring the dangers of an area that was inf ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having read a few books by different authors on the Holocaust, including some first-hand accounts from survivors, I knew the general story and eventual outcome. This author's writing style seemed to make it more vivid and included many aspects I had not read about previously. The idea that as the outlook on the war turned against Germany that some started to take seriously how to save their own lives and not be sent into losing battles by creating a pseudo-science project staffed by Jews who wer ...more
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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
More about Henry Orenstein...

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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.” 10 likes
“At times I was aware, while they were happening, that I was a witness to extraordinary events, and I tried to remember them as fully and as accurately as possible, with the conscious intent of recording them, should I be fortunate enough to survive the war. Such” 3 likes
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