Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Survivor's Story: Memoirs of Severin Fayerman

(no picture is available of this book)
Copyright: 2003
Bound by Dague Bookbindery
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 84
My rating: 4.5/5

This is a WWII memoir told in a very honest way.  Severin tells us a bit about his life before the war, moves into his life during the war, and finishes the story telling us about his life after the war.

Severin grew up in Poland. His family owned a manufacturing plant that got some work early on in the war but soon they were made to give it up and leave because they were Jewish.   Severin and his family were first sent to Kamionka camp.  Luckily they were able to stay together here.  However this didn't last long and soon they were shipped to Auschwitz where they were split up.

Severin was somehow able to get on the good side of some people at the camp and acquire extra food.  He was also able to stay out of the hard labor jobs.

I hesitate too say too much about what he wrote regarding the camps, I could sum it up but feel it's best to read it.

I will say this, Severin's family was one of the lucky ones.  They all survived the concentration camps.  After a couple of years they were able to move to America where they eventually started the Baldwin company.  I would imagine all of us, well, all of us in the US and possibly most of you outside of the US, are familiar with this company and also have some of the products around our house.

This memoir is wonderful.  The writing isn't the best, but that actually works for this memoir.  There isn't a lot of flowery language, you never once wonder if what he is telling you has been embellished.  I compare this to the stories my Grandpa tells me.  My Grandpa has always told my sisters little tid bits about his life, here and there. Last year he started emailing my sisters and I stories about his life growing up.  This book reads like those emails.  It's the honest story of a man's life.  The things he experienced and the things he did.

He doesn't give too much info about the horrible things he saw and experienced while in the concentration camps, although he does mention some things.  He even says in the end that he purposely didn't write about them because it's too hard.   However that's ok because he gives us a different story about the concentration camps that I hadn't read before, I think because most I've read do focus on the horrible things that happened.

I also really liked how his story didn't end with the end of the war.  He goes on to tell us how he reunited with his family, how they were able to move to America, and lastly, how they were able to grow the Baldwin company.

I don't think this is going to be an easy memoir to find, I doubt most libraries will have it. I do think it's worth looking for a copy though.  My friend actually read this and then mailed it to me so I could read it, and I'm glad she did.


bermudaonion said...

That sounds like an amazing story. When you say the Baldwin company, I assume you mean the one that makes brass. I had no idea they had that kind of background.

Kris said...

Bermudaonion - It's a very good story. And yes...you had the company correct. I know I've seen their products when at the hardware store looking for door handles and like items. I just updated my post to include a link to the company's website.

Literary Feline said...

Stories like this are so powerful, aren't they? The pain and suffering people went through during that time in history and then there strength and resilience . . . It's amazing. Thanks for this great review, Kris.

Kris said...

Literary Feline - Exactly! Even though he doesn't talk a lot about the more painful things that I'm sure he experienced, it's still a very powerful story and it's great to read about a family who survived and was able to overcome it.

Anonymous said...

This sounds fascinating. Too bad it's out of print. I've linked to your review here.

Kris said...

Diary of an Eccentric - thanks for linking my review! It is a shame it's out of print, if it was easier to find, I'm sure it would be a success.