This book, which is a collection of letters and poems, written by Ilse Weber from pre-war Moravia in 1933 to February 1942, when Ilse and her younger son are deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz in 1944. A professional writer, Ilse wrote scripts for radio, children’s books and songs. As life for Czech Jews became increasingly dangerous, she sends her eldest son to live with an old friend in England. Her letters detail the slow chiseling of her country by the Nazis and the family’s futile attempts to leave the country.
Throughout her narrative, there is always hope and the belief that things can never get worse. As things do grow worse, she displays an outward resilience. As a nurse on the children’s ward at the Theresienstadt concentration camp she sings to the children, writes poetry and encourages the children to draw. The camp writings are secreted in a shed and later retrieved by her husband after the war.
Ilse’s eldest son, Hanuš, does not understand why he is separated from his family. Her letters to him are filled with benign daily routine and gentle reminders to be a good boy. He does not learn the full truth of his family’s nightmare until he is an adult, which makes this first-hand account of the holocaust by someone who did not survive is all the more poignant.
I always tell people that Clayton "just" runs the business, I am the one who reads the books. We like to travel and no matter where we go, I've got books tucked in every piece of luggage, audio books downloaded on my phone and a batch of books on my Kindle.