Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
by Clara Kramer
April 27. 352 pages
Book Description: This heart-stopping story of a young girl hiding from the Nazis is based on Clara Kramer's diary of her years surviving in an underground bunker with seventeen other people.
Clara Kramer was a typical Polish-Jewish teenager from a small town at the outbreak of the Second World War. When the Germans invaded, Clara's family was taken in by the Becks, a Volksdeutsche (ethnically German) family from their town. Mrs. Beck worked as Clara's family's housekeeper. Mr. Beck was known to be an alcoholic, a womanizer, and a vocal anti-Semite. But on hearing that Jewish families were being led into the woods and shot, Beck sheltered the Kramers and two other Jewish families.
Eighteen people in all lived in a bunker dug out of the Becks' basement. Fifteen-year-old Clara kept a diary during the twenty terrifying months she spent in hiding, writing down details of their unpredictable life-from the house's catching fire to Mr. Beck's affair with Clara's neighbor; from the nightly SS drinking sessions in the room above to the small pleasure of a shared Christmas carp.
Against all odds, Clara lived to tell her story, and her diary is now part of the permanent collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
"This vividly detailed and taut narrative is a fitting tribute to the bravery of victims and righteous gentiles alike." - Publishers Weekly
"Lucidly told with deeply etched personality sketches." - Kirkus Reviews
"Starred Review. Both a gripping thriller and a heartbreaking drama of human kindness, this is sure to become a classic of Holocaust history." - Booklist
"Superlative memoir of survival. ...Few wartime memoirs convey with such harrowing immediacy the evil of the Nazi genocide.... Her book is a model documentary." - Daily Telegraph (London)
"Utterly compelling. At times, the tension is as high as in any thriller designed to stop your heart." - The Sun-Herald (Australia)
Clara Kramer (nee Schwarz) and her family were among the approximately five thousand Jews in Zolkiew, Poland, before World War II. At the end of the war, she and her parents numbered among the approximately sixty who survived. Kramer is the cofounder of the Holocaust Resource Foundation at Kean University. She lives in New Jersey.