One of our recommended books is THE SISTERS OF AUSCHWITZ by ROXANE VAN IPEREN

THE SISTERS OF AUSCHWITZ

The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters' Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory


The unforgettable story of two unsung heroes of World War II: sisters Janny and Lien Brilleslijper who joined the Dutch Resistance, helped save dozen of lives, were captured by the Nazis, and ultimately survived the Holocaust.

Eight months after Germany’s invasion of Poland, the Nazis roll into The Netherlands, expanding their reign of brutality to the Dutch. But by the Winter of 1943, resistance is growing. Among those fighting their brutal Nazi occupiers are two Jewish sisters, Janny and Lien Brilleslijper from Amsterdam. Risking arrest and death, the sisters help save others, sheltering them in a clandestine safehouse in the woods,

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The unforgettable story of two unsung heroes of World War II: sisters Janny and Lien Brilleslijper who joined the Dutch Resistance, helped save dozen of lives, were captured by the Nazis, and ultimately survived the Holocaust.

Eight months after Germany’s invasion of Poland, the Nazis roll into The Netherlands, expanding their reign of brutality to the Dutch. But by the Winter of 1943, resistance is growing. Among those fighting their brutal Nazi occupiers are two Jewish sisters, Janny and Lien Brilleslijper from Amsterdam. Risking arrest and death, the sisters help save others, sheltering them in a clandestine safehouse in the woods, they called “The High Nest.”

This secret refuge would become one of the most important Jewish safehouses in the country, serving as a hiding place and underground center for resistance partisans as well as artists condemned by Hitler. From The High Nest, an underground web of artists arises, giving hope and light to those  living in terror in Holland as they begin to restore the dazzling pre-war life of Amsterdam and The Hague.

When the house and its occupants are eventually betrayed, the most terrifying time of the sisters’ lives begins. As Allied troops close in, the Brilleslijper family are rushed onto the last train to Auschwitz, along with Anne Frank and her family. The journey will bring Janny and Lien close to Anne and her older sister Margot. The days ahead will test the sisters beyond human imagination as they are stripped of everything but their courage, their resilience, and their love for each other.

Based on meticulous research and unprecedented access to the Brilleslijpers’ personal archives of memoirs and photos, Sisters of Auschwitz is a long-overdue homage to two young women’s heroism and moral bravery—and a reminder of the power each of us has to change the world.

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  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • August 2021
  • 320 Pages
  • 9780063097629

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$17.99

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About Roxane van Iperen

Roxane van Iperen is a Dutch writer and lawyer who resides in the countryside east of Amsterdam, in the “High Nest,” once a safe house for Jews during World War II. The original Dutch version of The Sisters of Auschwitz was short-listed for the biggest public prize in Holland, NS Publieksprijs’s Book of the Year.

Praise

“Offering fascinating insights into Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter, the fate of the Frank family, and the bonds of sisterly devotion, this standout history isn’t to be missed.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A truly worthwhile addition to the body of Holocaust studies.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Excerpt

Preface

The moment we drive onto the woodland path and the house emerges between the trees, we fall in love. It is not quite the ‘little cottage in the country’ we were looking for – this house is enormous and even has a name: The High Nest. Our eyes travel across the majestic façade, brick walls covered with ivy, windows framed by old shutters. It has an air of history and grandeur, but without any of the usual detachment or pretence. On the contrary: the wild woodland garden, tall grass, the rope ladders dangling here and there and the orchard at the back – they call us to come run, play, light fires and spend endless nights talking underneath the stars, undisturbed by civilization. We look at each other and think exactly the same. How lucky we would be to live here.

The inconceivable happens. In the late summer of 2012, my husband and I, our three young children, an Old German Shepherd dog and three cats move into a caravan in the garden of The High Nest, and we embark on the long journey of restoring this extraordinary place to its former glory. Walls are renovated and stairs sanded, panels are removed, revealing ceilings with ingenious beam structures. With our bare hands we tear away the carpets and in almost each room we discover trapdoors in the wooden floors, hiding places behind old panelling. There we find candle stumps, sheet music, old resistance newspapers. And so, along with the renovation of The High Nest, begins the reconstruction of its history. A perplexing history which, as it turns out, includes an important part of the Dutch war years, unknown to most people – even within the vicinity of the house.

I sound out the previous owner, locals, shopkeepers in neighbouring villages, I dive into land registers and archives, and go from one surprise to the next. At the height of the Second World War, as the trains towards concentration camps are driving at full capacity and the Endlösung der Judenfrage, the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Question’, is well on its way, The High Nest was a large hiding and resistance centre, run by two Jewish sisters. In the following years I become acquainted with the descendants of those who lived in The High Nest. Those who hid there as children return to the house. They offer me their memories and personal documents, so I can give this story colour and the sisters a voice.

Slowly but surely, room by room, the pieces of the puzzle start to form the unbelievable story which now, six years later, is committed to paper. It is a history that confirms my very first feeling: this house is bigger than we are. We are merely the passers-by, lucky enough to live here.