national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, March 21, 2023



“The Daughter of Auschwitz” is the unforgettable and heart wrenching story of a remarkable woman. (Review by Margaret von Klemperer)

Before I read this book, I had seen Tova Friedman interviewed by Stephen Sackur on the BBC current affairs programme, HARDtalk, and was fascinated by her courage, articulacy and determination that her story should never be forgotten. In The Daughter of Auschwitz she has teamed up with Malcolm Brabant, because, as she says, she is an oral historian and he is a writer, to bring that story to the widest possible audience.

Friedman was born into a Jewish family living comfortably in Poland, a year before the Second World War broke out. Initially confined to a ghetto, she was five when she and her parents were sent to a labour camp, and six when she and her mother were sent to Auschwitz and her father to Dachau. In this remarkable book we see these experiences through the eyes of a child, a child who had to grow up fast and be resilient and courageous beyond her years, protected initially by strong and honourable parents, but ultimately obliged to live by her own wits.

The descriptions of life in the ghetto and the camps are hard to read. And that is what Friedman wants them to be. She wants her readers to be angry and to ensure that her story is not forgotten as the decimated generation who survived the death camps are inevitably not going to survive the march of time. She knows very well that it could all happen again – the veneer of humanity is often very thin.

Friedman and her parents all miraculously came out of the camps alive, eventually she and her mother hiding among the dead to avoid being sent on the Death March as Auschwitz was relieved by the Russians. They returned to their old hometown in Poland, to be met by more anti-Semitism. Suffering from the physical and psychological effects of what they had been through, they eventually made it to America, bearing terrible scars.

The story of Friedman’s subsequent life inevitably carries less of a punch, but it is a testament to her courage. She trained and worked as a therapist, married and had children, and eventually made it her business to talk about the Holocaust to generations who are in danger of forgetting, or of never being told. The Daughter of Auschwitz is the unforgettable and heart wrenching story of a remarkable woman. - Margaret von Klemperer

The Daughter of Auschwitz is published by Quercus. ISBN 978 1 52942 347 1