Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope

Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope

by Wendy Holden


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The Nazis murdered their husbands but concentration camp prisoners Priska, Rachel, and Anka would not let evil take their unborn children too—a remarkable true story that will appeal to readers of The Lost and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, Born Survivors celebrates three mothers who defied death to give their children life.

Eastern Europe, 1944: Three women believe they are pregnant, but are torn from their husbands before they can be certain. Rachel is sent to Auschwitz, unaware that her husband has been shot. Priska and her husband travel there together, but are immediately separated. Also at Auschwitz, Anka hopes in vain to be reunited with her husband. With the rest of their families gassed, these young wives are determined to hold on to all they have left—their lives, and those of their unborn babies. Having concealed their condition from infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, they are forced to work and almost starved to death, living in daily fear of their pregnancies being detected by the SS.

In April 1945, as the Allies close in, Priska gives birth. She and her baby, along with Anka, Rachel, and the remaining inmates, are sent to Mauthausen concentration camp on a hellish seventeen-day train journey. Rachel gives birth on the train, and Anka at the camp gates. All believe they will die, but then a miracle occurs. The gas chamber runs out of Zyklon-B, and as the Allied troops near, the SS flee. Against all odds, the three mothers and their newborns survive their treacherous journey to freedom.

On the seventieth anniversary of Mauthausen’s liberation from the Nazis by American soldiers, renowned biographer Wendy Holden recounts this extraordinary story of three children united by their mothers’ unbelievable—yet ultimately successful—fight for survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062370266
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 78,012
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Wendy Holden was a journalist for eighteen years, including a decade at the Daily Telegraph. She is the author and coauthor of more than thirty books, among them several internationally acclaimed wartime biographies, plus the New York Times bestsellers A Lotus Grows in the Mud (with Goldie Hawn) and Lady Blue Eyes (with Frank Sinatra's widow, Barbara). She lives in Suffolk, England, with her husband and two dogs, and divides her time between the UK and the US.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

1 Priska 1

2 Rachel 34

3 Anka 71

4 Auschwitz II-Birkenau 120

5 Freiberg 164

6 The Train 210

7 Mauthausen 245

8 Liberation 277

9 Home 306

10 Reunion 354

Roll Call 367

Bibliography and Sources 369

Acknowledgements 377

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Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Impeccably written. This book does a great job of really getting the reader to know and relate to the people that lived though such a nightmare. This book draws you in and make you cry and smile. I feeel as if i personally know anka, rachel and priska . I am fascinated by their story and glad that through books like this the people that were and are nameless and faceless get their story told and become the gret humans that they were. . It is our duty to keep their stories alive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ths book is the first book of this genre that actually made me feel like a participant in the struggles of the Jews in the camps.i
PennyN2 More than 1 year ago
If you thought you knew everything about the Holocaust then think again. This is one of the most remrakable books on this period I have ever read but more than that it is a story of three ordinary women who live through unspeakable times and come out of it with their miraculous babies. Incredible and poweerful. A book club classic.
Two2dogs 29 days ago
Good story, I was so amased but not surprised at the strength of these 3 women, I could not wait to see what happened to them but I never read the end ahead, this book keep me reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great book and amazing story of survival.
AliTheDragonSlayer More than 1 year ago
I had agreed to do a spotlight/guest post with Wendy to highlight the book & after looking at all the blurb decided I really wanted to read it. It is way out of my comfort zone but an important part of history that I felt I could learn more about so I treated myself to a copy. This book follows the heartbreaking journey of three women who managed to hide their pregnancies while at Auschwitz & tells in great detail the atrocities they endured. The humiliation, starvation, a constant threat of the gas chamber, unsanitary conditions, the struggles both mentally & physically. The cruelty bestowed on them is astounding & if it wasn’t a true story could almost be unimaginable .. how anyone survived is amazing but these women found some kind of super human inner strength to maintain hope & nurture their unborn children then give birth in those condition. It shows how much it takes to destroy the human spirit or maternal instinct. It is a difficult book to read due to the subject matter but also incredibly fascinating & kept me enthralled. There is so much history, numerous dates & historic details it is impossible to take it all in. I found myself reading in total awe of these women (& all involved) not able to imagine living during a situation like that .. I was frequently in tears or shock but it also gave me hope that evil can be overcome even in the most horrific circumstances. I have given it 4 out of 5 based on the fact it’s not a book I will (need to) read again .. it will stay with me a very long time. If I have any hint of negativity it does repeat itself slightly. While there is so much information to absorb I found it a bit disconcerting each time the women arrived & went through the admission process the text outlined the ‘Are you pregnant’ phase .. maybe this was to really hit home how relevant the information was but after the first lady I realised what would be happening. Don’t let this influence the book though .. it is a wonderful insight into a life thankfully I have no personal connection with & I’m glad I have read it .. thanks Wendy for opening my eyes!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best ones I have read for a while. -TRC
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsomely cool
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At uph all reses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi ;3>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could someone give me a summary of the book? I want to read it but I need more info!