Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: Waltzing with the Enemy

By Sandy Amazeen May 17, 2011, 7:08 GMT

Book Review: Waltzing with the Enemy

Filled with insight and humor, this dual memoir by Rasia, born in Vilnius, Lithuania (who survived the Holocaust on a false identity), and her daughter Helen, born in Montreal, Canada, examines the long-term implications of being a survivor of the Holocaust and the unique pressures and anxieties the children of survivors inherit from their parents. Rasia, determined to protect Helen from anti-Semitism, continues to pose as a Christian and raises ...more

These moving, heartfelt memoirs by a Holocaust survivor and her daughter not only tell of survival in the face of incredible odds but also of understanding. Rasia Kliot was seventeen when the Germans marched into Vilnius, Poland forever changing her life. Thanks to the fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes she inherited from her grandfather, a close knit circle of friends, determination and a chameleon-like ability to blend in, Rasia was able to survive when so many did not. However, the experience left deep emotional scars that followed Rasia throughout her life and those scars carried to Helen, her daughter who was twelve years old when she first learned of her Jewish heritage. Although Helen repeatedly asked her mother about the Nazi invasion and what happened to her family, Rasia was reluctant to speak of those times. Fears of anti-Semitism and the possibility of history repeating itself, even in Phoenix, led Rasia to protect her daughter by forbidding Helen to speak of her Jewish ancestry. Raised as a proper young Catholic, Helen resented having a double life, uncertain who she was and thanks to working on these memoirs with her mother, both have gained a measure of peace.

It is the unique perspective of both mother and daughter that sets these memoirs apart from the many personal stories of Holocaust survivors. Straightforward and filled with raw courage, these poignant stories capture your attention and while there are so many painful memories, it is the resilience of spirit and the capacity to grow and heal that stay with you long after turning the last page.

 

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