William & Rosalie
William & Rosalie
A Holocaust Testimony
University of North Texas Press, Paperback, 9781574412611, 165pp.
Publication Date: February 28, 2009
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William & Rosalie is the gripping and heartfelt account of two Polish Jews who survive six different German slave and prison camps throughout the Holocaust. In 1941, newlyweds William and Rosalie Schiff are forcibly separated and sent on their individual odysseys through a surreal maze of hate. Terror in the Krakow ghetto, sadistic SS death games, an "experimental rabbit" job, eyewitness accounts of cannibalism, and the menace of rape in occupied Poland make William & Rosalie an unusually candid view of the chaos that World War II unleashed on the Jewish people. The lovers' story begins in Krakow's ancient neighborhood of Kazimierz, after the Germans occupy western Poland. A year later they marry in the ghetto; by 1942 deportations have wasted both families. After Rosalie is saved by Oskar Schindler, the husband and wife end up at the Plaszow work camp under Amon Goeth, the bestial commandant played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List. While Rosalie is on "heaven patrol" removing bodies from the camp, William is working in the factories. But when Rosalie is shipped by train to a different factory camp, William sneaks into a boxcar to follow, and he ends up at Auschwitz instead. Craig Hanley powerfully narrates the struggle of the lovers to stay alive and find each other at war's end. Now in their eighties, William and Rosalie come to terms in this book with the loss of their families and years of torture at the hands of Nazi captors. Unique among memoirs from this era, the book connects directly to the present day. The Schiffs' ongoing and highly effective campaign against prejudice and discrimination is a heroic culmination of two lives scarred beyond belief by racism. William &Rosalie artfully combines biography with timely lessons on the nature of mass hate, a stubborn phenomenon that continues to endanger every life on Earth.