The Girl Who Escaped From Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood

Book Blurb:

Millions of people walked through Auschwitz’s gates, but she was the first woman who escaped. This powerful novel tells the inspiring true story of Mala Zimetbaum, whose heroism will never be forgotten, and whose fate altered the course of history…

Nobody leaves Auschwitz alive.

Mala, inmate 19880, understood that the moment she stepped off the cattle train into the depths of hell. As an interpreter for the SS, she uses her position to save as many lives as she can, smuggling scraps of bread to those desperate with hunger.

Edward, inmate 531, is a camp veteran and a political prisoner. Though he looks like everyone else, with a shaved head and striped uniform, he’s a fighter in the underground Resistance. And he has an escape plan.

They are locked up for no other sin than simply existing. But when they meet, the dark shadow of Auschwitz is lit by a glimmer of hope. Edward makes Mala believe in the impossible. That despite being surrounded by electric wire, machine guns topping endless watchtowers and searchlights roaming the ground, they will leave this death camp.

A promise is made––they will escape together or they will die together. What follows is one of the greatest love stories in history…

Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Choice, and The Orphan Train will love this breathtakingly beautiful tale, of courage in the face of tragedy and bravery in the face of fear. Based on a true story, The Girl Who Escaped Auschwitz shows that, in darkness, love can be your light…

I received this book from the author for free. This is a voluntary review, therefore, all comments and opinions are entirely my own.

Renae’s Review:

Amidst the cries of terror and agony heard across the concentration camps in Europe during World War II, a story of love and devotion between two prisoners arises, serving as a beacon of hope for those who witness it. When Mala, a young Jewish woman, and Edek, a young Polish man, cross paths in Auschwitz-Birkenau, sparks fly and an attachment deeper than fear is born. Surrounded by sadistic captors bent on their death-by-torture, these two, along with a handful of their friends, hatch a plan to escape and bring justice to the doorstep of the camp. However, as circumstances worsen, others harbor similar hopes and act on them sooner, putting the Nazis on high alert to potential escape attempts. Will Mala, Edek, and their friends live to escape and see justice served? Or will the evil ideology of Hitler and his Nazis take the lives of the beloved heroes? Grab a copy of The Girl Who Escaped From Auschwitz to find out!

As with any book about the Holocaust, this one is a kick in the gut and an eye-opener about the human condition. What sets this book apart from other Holocaust books I’ve read in the past is its approach. Instead of constant darkness and gloom, the characters in this book make a conscious effort to bring light and laughter to one of the worst situations in human history. As a reader, you grow to know, understand, and cheer for each of the characters in their quest to escape from the most infamous death machine of the 20th century, Auschwitz.

Another interesting touch that sets this book apart is that it is told partially from the perspective of a non-Jewish prisoner. If you ask anyone what they know about the Holocaust, likely the first thing they would tell you is that it was a part of World War II in which the Nazis killed millions of Jews. However, while that is certainly true, it is not the complete truth. Most people either forget or simply never learned that there were non-Jewish people tortured and killed in the concentration camps, as well. Ellie Midwood, the book’s author, does a great job at showing that, while not subtracting from or minimizing the horrific plight of the Jewish victims at the hands of the Nazi regime. To up her game even further, Midwood manages to elicit sympathy for one or two of the Nazi officers, showing her readers that some of those tasked with the dirty work of the Holocaust were not supportive of the Nazi mission, nor did they wish to play any part in killing their fellow human beings. I found this layer of perspective to be evidence of Midwood’s mastery of the art of weaving words and moving hearts.

Ultimately, it is beneficial to read about the Holocaust, in general, as it typically serves as a reminder of (and subsequent cautionary tale against) what can happen when humans give into their worst impulses and vanity. But, apart from firsthand survivor accounts, you are not likely to find more powerful, authoritative, and engaging presentations of these harrowing stories outside of Ellie Midwood’s work. This is not her first book about the Holocaust and I would wager it won’t be her last. If, like me, you prefer to learn about history through historical fiction, then I wholeheartedly recommend diving into this book and others by her!

Content Warning: Violence Against Women & POC (including Torture), Insinuated Sexual Encounters (nothing graphic or descriptive whatsoever), Brief Portrayal of Prostitution (again, nothing graphic or descriptive), some Explicit Language. I did not feel that any of these were extensive enough to warrant subtracting a star from the rating, especially considering they were necessary parts of the story as a whole. This true story is based on a very dark reality and to censor out the darker aspects would be an irresponsible retelling of history. The explicit or disturbing elements of this story were tastefully included in such a way as to not be distracting.

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