Livia E. Bitton Jackson
We are lined up and several husky girls in gray cloaks begin shaving our hair--on our heads, under the arms, and on the pubic area.
LIVIA E. BITTON JACKSON
It is no coincidence that many memoirs by Holocaust survivors come from Hungarian Jews such as Isabella Leitner, Olga Lengyel, and Livia E. Bitton Jackson, the next selection's author. In Raul Hilberg words, "Truly the Hungarian Jews were living on an island." Comparatively unscathed until 1944, Hungarian Jews could have a relatively better chance of survival than populations targeted earlier--if they were spared for work when "selections" such as those at Auschwitz were made. That if was a big one, especially for Hungarian Jewish women, and by no means did it ensure survival. Nearly all the former Auschwitz victims--male and female--agree that luck had more to do with their survival than any factor that was directly in their own control. The choices people made--"choiceless" or not--did make a difference, but factors such as the following probably mattered just as much, if not more: a person's age and sex; when one was deported; whether he or she could ward off sickness; whether one might draw a work assignment that would reduce energy output or enable one to obtain better food; whether one could avoid the punishing whims of guards or the caprice of periodic selections; whether there was help of any kind that one could count on.
The Israeli novelist Amoz Oz points out that, for a long time, "we have been teaching ourselves that the murder of European Jewry can be explained but not understood." Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, Livia E. Bitton Jackson autobiographical account, offers a different perspective. This account is about a girl