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Book Review: Signs of Survival Memoir of the Holocaust

As the years go on, World War II survivors and their stories are still such a part of history that should never be forgotten. Children should especially know some of the details in order for the same thing to never happen again. Read on for a full book review of Signs of Survival: Memoir of the Holocaust.

Signs of Survival book review

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RENEE: I was ten years old then, and my sister was eight. The responsibility was on me to warn everyone when the soldiers were coming because my sister and both my parents were deaf.

I was my family’s ears.

Meet Renee and Herta, two sisters who faced the unimaginable — together. This is their true story. As Jews living in 1940s Czechoslovakia, Renee, Herta, and their parents were in immediate danger when the Holocaust came to their door. As the only hearing person in her family, Renee had to alert her parents and sister whenever the sound of Nazi boots approached their home so they could hide. But soon their parents were tragically taken away, and the two sisters went on the run, desperate to find a safe place to hide. Eventually they, too, would be captured and taken to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Communicating in sign language and relying on each other for strength in the midst of illness, death, and starvation, Renee and Herta would have to fight to survive the darkest of times. This gripping memoir, told in a vivid “oral history” format, is a testament to the power of sisterhood and love, and now more than ever a reminder of how important it is to honor the past, and keep telling our own stories.


Renee and Herta are the children of a Jewish couple living in modern day Slovakia. When German soldiers march in and begin announcing new laws, the family is nervous especially since they are all deaf except for Renee. The family attempts to continue to live their lives as usual but the changes are unsettling and it seems that they don’t even recognize their small town anymore. The fear comes when they are ordered to sew yellow Star of David on their clothing that designate them as Jewish. Renee and Herta are sent out of their town to live with a couple that are hiding Jews. The couple kicks out Renee and Herta after their parents stop paying and when Renee and Herta return to their town their parents are no where to be found. Exhausted and scared they turn themselves into the Nazi soldiers and their nightmare gets worse.

Packed in horrific conditions, Renee and Herta are put on a train to a concentration camp. Renee must be the ears for Herta who doesn’t understand what’s going on. After a long and arduous journey with little food and little water, the girls arrive at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. While in the camp the sisters witness horrific conditions and actions by the Nazi guards. Just as Renee gets sick with typhus, Herta catches the eye of a Nazi doctor and the two struggle to hold on until the end of the war.

Signs of Survival is a compelling story of two sisters surviving the Bergen-Belsen concentrations camp during World War II. The book is written in conversation format which makes it quite easy for children to follow along the story. There isn’t much historical background given on the circumstances of the Nazi’s being in their country, so some knowledge of World War II is helpful. Signs of Survival should be required reading especially since it’s important part of history that should never be forgotten.

Signs of Survival releases in November 2021 and can be preordered here.


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