The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – Book Review

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This novel is not for the faint of heart.  The three women who make up the story are Caroline Ferriday a New York socialite who volunteers at the French Embassy as a liaison dealing with the French orphanages after WWI.  She is invested in providing food and clothing for the orphaned children.  Kashia Kuzmerick, a young Polish girl was picked up by the Nazi’s and sent to the concentration camp Ravensbruck along with her mother, sister and family friend.  As an aside, the character of Kashia and her sister are based on real sisters Nina and Krystyna Iwanska who were prisoners at Ravensbruck.  And finally, Herta Oberheuser, a German doctor working at Ravensbruck.

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Caroline Ferriday

The novel goes back and forth between all of the characters, giving us a wonderful background and understanding of each of them.  Caroline was a warm and highly interesting woman, and I really felt that I knew her due to this portrayal in this book.  Kashia was my hero in this novel, since she endured the surgeries, torture and starvation that the Nazi’s forced upon their prisoners.  The character of Herta was so outside of my own understanding that reading her sections was difficult.

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Ravensbruck Rabbits

 

I highly recommend this book.   Herta Oberheuser was indeed the only woman doctor who was found guilty of crimes against humanity at the trails after WWII.  I’ve read extensively on the subject of the Holocaust, but I’d never heard of the Ravensbruck “Rabbits” before.  The way that Kelly wrote this novel was outstanding.  This is one novel that I will be thinking about for some time.

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Dr. Herta Oberheuser

 

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