Over the years I have read a lot of holocaust books, both fiction and non fiction, and thought this would be another typical book I was wrong It is a very honest book about the author s relationship with her mother during the holocaust period and it certainly does not try to shock the reader with any type of expose of the realities of the camps In fact she deliberately refrains from doing that and tells the reader there are many other books to read which depict the atrocities if that is wha Over the years I have read a lot of holocaust books, both fiction and non fiction, and thought this would be another typical book I was wrong It is a very honest book about the author s relationship with her mother during the holocaust period and it certainly does not try to shock the reader with any type of expose of the realities of the camps In fact she deliberately refrains from doing that and tells the reader there are many other books to read which depict the atrocities if that is what you want As a result the book is very intriguing to read and is very thought provoking Well worth a read A very different Holocaust survival memoir than I am used to Kluger purposefully wrote this memoir for a different purpose this was not meant to show us what we already know about the Holocaust This does not look at grotesque portraits of concentration camp conditions or satanic SS generals and Nazis Kluger looks back at herself as a child during World War II with an objective mindset It is as if Kluger is psychoanalyzing herself through her writing.It is surprising in many ways Kluger d A very different Holocaust survival memoir than I am used to Kluger purposefully wrote this memoir for a different purpose this was not meant to show us what we already know about the Holocaust This does not look at grotesque portraits of concentration camp conditions or satanic SS generals and Nazis Kluger looks back at herself as a child during World War II with an objective mindset It is as if Kluger is psychoanalyzing herself through her writing.It is surprising in many ways Kluger does not ask for sentimentality She confesses the lack of familial relationship between her, her family, and the Jewish community She expresses the excitement she felt once she knew she was to partake in an event that would be worth talking about in the future Do not read this expecting to seedetails about what we already know from Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom, or Elie Wiesel Kluger takes you somewhere else that you have not been before Reviewing it a year after reading This Holocaust survivor story is different The style, the writer s personality is unapologetic and challenged me to re think what I as an outsider thought presumed to know about that period of history and the people who lived through it, as if she pointed her finger directly at me and other people who want to know her story, forcing us to answer why do we want to know her story Human beings have this need to be able to explain why something is and then when Reviewing it a year after reading This Holocaust survivor story is different The style, the writer s personality is unapologetic and challenged me to re think what I as an outsider thought presumed to know about that period of history and the people who lived through it, as if she pointed her finger directly at me and other people who want to know her story, forcing us to answer why do we want to know her story Human beings have this need to be able to explain why something is and then when we think we have a satisfying enough answer, we put the cap on that jar and put it on a shelf in our heads of things we have come to peace with Reading this book challenged me to not do that with this story there is no explaining the Holocaust, there is no explaining survival There is no peaceful conclusion There is no explaining it away She doesn t feel how we think she should feel and she defies you to tell her why she should She has changed the way I think Thank you, Ruth Kluger, and bless you Instead of God I believe in ghosts This was a very different memoir than the others I ve read I think because the author is a writer and her story doesn t have the direct simplicity of someone just telling their story of survival She isabstract andanalytical Her story has a sharper edge That doesn t make it better or worse, but it gave me a different perspective.Ruth Kluger grew up in Vienna and did not have an idyllic childhood Her parents and relatives vacillated between petInstead of God I believe in ghosts This was a very different memoir than the others I ve read I think because the author is a writer and her story doesn t have the direct simplicity of someone just telling their story of survival She isabstract andanalytical Her story has a sharper edge That doesn t make it better or worse, but it gave me a different perspective.Ruth Kluger grew up in Vienna and did not have an idyllic childhood Her parents and relatives vacillated between petty and brutal behavior The fact of their horrific deaths doesn t soften her memories of them.Ruth s father escapes to Italy and the women are left alone Ruth s mother has a chance to send her on a kindertransport and does not take it They are sent to Terezin, Auschwitz, and Gross Rosen Her unflinching accounts of the hunger, brutality and banality of these camps allows you to sense the reality of that existence A different holocaust experience than the oneswidely known and celebrated Ruth Kl ger is not afraid to show the raw emotions that go along with such a jarring experience as hers There is sometimes bitterness, and raw anger the anger of the child who had the bad luck she refuses to attribute it to fate or God to be born Jewish in Vienna in 1931 Seven years old at the Anschluss, she did not have the usual childhood experiences of learning to swim or ride a bike She learned different l A different holocaust experience than the oneswidely known and celebrated Ruth Kl ger is not afraid to show the raw emotions that go along with such a jarring experience as hers There is sometimes bitterness, and raw anger the anger of the child who had the bad luck she refuses to attribute it to fate or God to be born Jewish in Vienna in 1931 Seven years old at the Anschluss, she did not have the usual childhood experiences of learning to swim or ride a bike She learned different lessons lessons in loss, in Otherness, in unfairness She was deported to Theresienstadt with her mother at 11, and sent to Auschwitz at 12 So if she sometimes sounds abrasive or argumentative, she has every right to be As she reminds us, there is no single narrative of the Holocaust, no magic formula that could be applied to equal survival or destruction Yes, she and her mother as well as the sister they adopted in Auschwitz were tenacious, but they were also lucky She tells her story unflinchingly, warts and all, and takes a critical look at the museum culture of the Holocaust Ruth Klueger s Still Alive A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered is a powerful book that is difficult to describe The work is divided into four sections and an epilogue Vienna recounts Klueger s early childhood in the city The Camps discusses Klueger s time spent as a twelve and thirteen year old in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz Birkenau, the labor camp at Gross Rosen, and on a death march throughout Germany Germany discusses time spent in the country after running away from the death march un Ruth Klueger s Still Alive A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered is a powerful book that is difficult to describe The work is divided into four sections and an epilogue Vienna recounts Klueger s early childhood in the city The Camps discusses Klueger s time spent as a twelve and thirteen year old in Theresienstadt, Auschwitz Birkenau, the labor camp at Gross Rosen, and on a death march throughout Germany Germany discusses time spent in the country after running away from the death march until Klueger s emigration to America, while New York discusses Klueger s experiences of immigration and,generally, the rest of her life spent in America The book is difficult to describe for a few reasons First, the book covers nearly 70 years of experiences While the impacts of the Holocaust are at their heart, the book covers a great dealof Klueger s life than simply her time spent in the camps Relatedly, Klueger s background as a poet shines in the ways that she destabilizes the chronological backbone of her narrative by interjecting things that happened long before or long after key events in question In this way, I would describe Klueger s work asof a meditation than an exact chronological account But a meditation on what remains the difficult question to answer The answer seems to be the ambiguity and dilemmas surrounding a life after the Holocaust, expressed particularly through the themes of childhood and gender On one hand, Klueger demands that the reader accept her childhood as just that, a childhood not unlike anyone else s On the other hand, Klueger reasserts the particularities of a childhood endured during the Holocaust and the ways it has transformed and continues to transform her life For instance, Klueger recounts her hatred for an aunt who lived with them before the camps, because the aunt constantly told her to beladylike and punished her by taking away a collection of tram tickets she kept as a hobby Although this aunt died in the Holocaust, Klueger says she still feels no real pity, just a lingering sense of outrage toward her aunt This causes Klueger some distress, because of the bad fit between facts and feelings, between actual, normal, petty sentiments and the horrendous suffering to which childhood is innocent 33 Klueger s feelings are typical feelings for a slighted youth, but they cannot change or transform because of her aunt s demise in the unforeseeable Holocaust What does one do with such feelings As another example, Klueger contends her entire life with a mother who, among other mental problems, suffered from paranoia While her mother s harsh words and behavior hurt Klueger deeply, Klueger is clear that it might be that very paranoia that got both of them through the camps How does one deal with the ambiguities surrounding these competing facts and emotions Klueger does not provide clear answers to any of these questions What she does do, however, is show the reader that Holocaust survivors and perhaps people in general must be understood within the full breadth of their experiences, which are complicated and convoluted Holocaust survivors cannot be reduced only to their Holocaust experiences, but neither can the impact of the Holocaust on its survivors be denied or easily accounted for Historians must be willing to face ambiguities, rather than search for easy answers I had never heard of this memoir before being assigned it on a reading list for my university course I am a relative newcomer to Holocaust memoirs, but found Kluger s writing style to be engaging and interesting.She both presents facts we have come to accept as westerners learning about the Holocaust in school the terrible conditions, the somewhat haphazard and luck related survivals of the persecuted, and the absolute despair of the entire operation, for example but also provides insight int I had never heard of this memoir before being assigned it on a reading list for my university course I am a relative newcomer to Holocaust memoirs, but found Kluger s writing style to be engaging and interesting.She both presents facts we have come to accept as westerners learning about the Holocaust in school the terrible conditions, the somewhat haphazard and luck related survivals of the persecuted, and the absolute despair of the entire operation, for example but also provides insight into ideas I had never considered She is not a fan of the Holocaust museums and the use of the Concentration Camps, the museums, in her opinion, tell you what to think rather than letting you come to your own conclusion, and the Concentration Camps are a disservice to the memory of the victims and the survivors She mentions in passing difficult subjects like the politicisation of the Holocaust and the debates that have opened up about what one can say about it, and what is banned as anti Semitic.Intertwined with this horrific backdrop is a story about a broken family Those that died and those that survived, and those that were never in the camps themselves and avoided such a fate, who she comes to meet later in her life It is unflinching in its representation, she doesn t glorify people she disliked just because they died, but she still makes it clear the horrible fate that awaited them.It made me think It made me consider how humans understand one another Do we need a shared experience, even the smallest of occurrences, to empathise and listen to one another Do we ever truly listen to each other s stories Or do we just listen to what we want to hear I becameself critical for reading this book, and considered my pre conceived opinion of the Holocaust It didn t answer many questions it raised, but it didn t need to, Kluger knew many of the questions held no easy answers It sthan worth a read It was lengthy in places, but I enjoyed her thoughts and her questions, her life before, during and after the Holocaust I enjoyed her self reflection and her consideration for what had happened to her And she taught me that there s a difference between sympathising and dismissing someone, and that all too often the wider world opts for dismissal Hopefully now I ll have learnt to truly listen to someone, or at least consider whether I ve really heard them I struggled with the rating on this book.On the one hand, there are many elements of the book I would criticize The author s writing, particularly in the first fifty pages, is loaded with metaphors, to the point that each line appears to be a witty soundbite the style is therefore disjointed The book is also replete with references that I m not sure a non academic would appreciate authors and academics quoted with last names and throwaway mentions And finally, the author herself has such a I struggled with the rating on this book.On the one hand, there are many elements of the book I would criticize The author s writing, particularly in the first fifty pages, is loaded with metaphors, to the point that each line appears to be a witty soundbite the style is therefore disjointed The book is also replete with references that I m not sure a non academic would appreciate authors and academics quoted with last names and throwaway mentions And finally, the author herself has such a tone of anger against herself, her family, her world that the book can be off putting at times On the other hand, though the book is incredibly powerful Kluger pulls no punches and she steadfastly refuses to play to cliches She will tell you what she thinks, whether it may be a popular idea that women guards were nicer than men or unpopular that the concentration camp museums are a superficial gesture with no meaning to the victims She shows us the damage living in a racist society pre war Vienna as well as the wartime years in the camps did to her, both in that time and through the rest of her life, and she does so in a way that is vicious, uncomfortable, and not in the slightest self pitying And throughout the text, she demands, repeatedly, that we think whether we agree with her or not, Kluger does not allow us to be passive readers what I most liked about this book was the way Kluger simultaneously asserts uncomfortable and contradictory things like it s terrible when people assume that the catastrophe of the Holocaust must somehow have made people better, wiser,loving, but it s also terrible when people don t recognise that survivors might have some special insight into some things that silence and forgetfulness here is a terrible sin, but memorialisation is often empty and fetishistic that survivors of this kind what I most liked about this book was the way Kluger simultaneously asserts uncomfortable and contradictory things like it s terrible when people assume that the catastrophe of the Holocaust must somehow have made people better, wiser,loving, but it s also terrible when people don t recognise that survivors might have some special insight into some things that silence and forgetfulness here is a terrible sin, but memorialisation is often empty and fetishistic that survivors of this kind of atrocity have experienced something others can t begin to understand, and yet are, still, ultimately, denied access to the essence of this experience of mass murder, precisely because they survived, were the lucky ones that you can be both attached to and repelled by your homeland, your home language that love and rage can go hand in hand that it s fair enough that people are confused and saddened by all this lack of certainty, but also, get a grip, you think that s worse than a death camp etcin other words, she pushes you through both the form and content of her writing to accept that there s no resolution to be found hereIn line with this embrace of ambiguity, Kluger adopts what I d consider to be a fairly measured tone, and I m surprised that what most reviewers seem to be taking away from this book is she s so bitter all the time and it s unpleasant , and even if that were the case, what do you want from her, what the fuck, I m mad about it Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family s comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood Kluger s story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the HolocaustInterwoven with blunt, unsparing observations of childhood and nuanced reflections of an adult who has spent a lifetime thinking about the Holocaust, Still Alive rejects all easy assumptions about history, both political and personal Whether describing the abuse she met at her own mother s hand, the life saving generosity of a woman SS aide in Auschwitz, the foibles and prejudices of Allied liberators, or the cold shoulder offered by her relatives when she and her mother arrived as refugees in New York, Kluger sees and names an unexpected reality which has little to do with conventional wisdom or morality tales Still Alive is a memoir of the pursuit of selfhood against all odds, a fiercely bittersweet coming of age story in which the protagonist must learn never to rely on comforting assumptions, but always to seek her own truth