No matter how you look at it, The Holocaust was, and remains, a stain on human existence. Many authors have tried, via fiction and nonfiction, to portray what Jews, and others considered as “non-human” by the Nazis, went through while that evil was in control of Germany. None more eloquently than Lucy Adlington in her book The Dressmakers of Auschwitz.
Normally, I can read a 300-page book in three or four days of two- to three- hour reading blocks. Not so with this book, not because of the writer’s skill but because of the sheer inhumanity involved. Emotions run high as you read the about the heroic struggle that the 25 or so women who populate this history went through in order to survive extermination.<
The main focus of the book is Bracha Kohut, who died in 2021 in California. She was about 100 years old when she died. Bracha was interviewed extensively by Ms. Adlington and opened many doors for the latter’s research. Bracha was probably the last surviving seamstress of the Upper Tailoring Studio set up in the concentration camp of Auschwitz and its sister extermination camp of Birkenau. Bracha was from the area of Slovakia around Bratislava, as were several others. A couple of the women were French Communists and not Jewish.
In addition to Bracha, the reader will meet Alida, Marta, Irene, Renee, Katka, Hunya, and a few others. Their lives before The Holocaust are examined. Their trials and tribulations at the concentration camps are explored. What happened to them after liberation is also described.
Not only will the reader learn about these heroic women, but they will acquire knowledge about the history of Europe from 1920 to 1950. The author presents the development of fashion during the prewar and wartime years. Among the disturbing things I learned was that the fashion designer Hugo Boss used slave labor to produce his products for the better part of a decade. The horrific “Kristallnacht” is another event covered by this book. I learned about “Arisators,” who were Aryan managers allowed to take over Jewish owned businesses for little or no cost.
At one point in the story, Irene states, “The only way out [of Auschwitz] is through the chimney!” The Nazis had a rule against stealing anything they stole from the victims, but as one said, “Rank has its privileges!”
This book should be required reading for Holocaust doubters. It happened. It should never be forgotten so it cannot be repeated. If you are a history buff, this book is for you. If you like to read a well-written story, this book is for you. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
GO! BUY! READ!
–Jim Harris, retired book sales rep
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