Schoschana Rabinovici

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Schoschana Rabinovici
Born November 14, 1932
Paris, France
Residence Tel Aviv, Vienna
Occupation Author

Schoschana Rabinovici (née suzanne Weksler) is of Lithuanian-Jewish heritage. She is a Holocaust survivor and the author of “Dank meiner Mutter", which was published in the USA in 1998 under the title Thanks to My Mother.[1] Described as “Particularly grim, even for a Holocaust memoir”,[2] Thanks to My Mother was described by one reviewer as “one of the most moving memoirs I have ever read of the Holocaust”. The same reviewer writes that readers whose interest include Holocaust testimonies and are “mentally prepared for the harshness of Rabinovici's experiences, will come away with renewed appreciation of the extraordinary fortitude required to survive those dire times”.[3] The book gives a rare, detailed view of Jewish life in Vilnius, Lithuania during German occupation and contains gritty descriptions of life in the Vilnius Ghetto and the circumstances of those deported from the ghetto for slave labor in Germany. It is written from the viewpoint of a young girl from the age of about eight to twelve. Writes JWeekly.com...“It is also the story of Raja Indursky-Wexler’s profoundly transcendent love for her daughter…the daughter’s memoir is at once riveting, blood-chilling, heartbreaking and, ultimately, awe-inspiring.”[4] The book is designated as an American Library Association notable book and is the 1999 winner of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award. The award seeks to recognize translations of children's books into the English language (in this case by James Skofield from the original German), with the intention of encouraging American publishers to translate high quality foreign language children's books.

Early life[edit]

Susanne Weksler was born in Paris on November 14, 1932 where her parents were completing their studies. After the Wekslers returned to Vilnius, Suzanne attended Jewish school until the German occupation of the city in 1941. Suzanne’s parents owned Bon Ton, a clothing store in Vilnius, Lithuania. Suzanne’s father, Isak Weksler, and mother, Raja Indurski Weksler were divorced when Suzanne was just seven years old. A short time after Bon-Ton was nationalized during the Russian occupation of Vilnius (1939–1941), Raja married Julek Rauch, a Polish Jew from Przemyśl, where Julek had attended a German school. Grandfather Weksler and grandfather Indurski owned businesses in Vilnius and, as they were considered wealthy, the Indurski and Weksler families barely avoided deportation to forced labor in Siberia during the Russian occupation.

German occupation[edit]

Two days after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, when Suzanne was eight years old, Germans occupied Vilnius and Suzanne’s father, Isak Weksler was arrested as a Jew and was eventually sent to his death at PaneriaiPonary. In early September, 1941 Suzanne and her extended family were incarcerated in the Vilnius Ghetto. Upon liquidation of the ghetto beginning on September 24, 1943 Suzanne and Raja survived a brutal selection in the Christian Rossa Cemetery and were sent for slave labor to the Kaiserwald concentration camp near Riga, Latvia. Upon liquidation of Kaiserwald, Suzanne and her mother were transported to the Stutthof concentration camp, some 22 miles from the city of Gdansk. On October 1, 1944 Raja and Suzanne entered the Stutthof concentration camp. Conditions at Stutthof were brutal and sick and weak prisoners were routinely gassed or given lethal injections. It is a testament to the deplorable conditions in Stutthof that in Polish/Russian tribunals after the war the former commandant of the camp, Johann Pauls and twenty former guards a Kapos were sentenced to death and executed for crimes against humanity and other crimes. Upon the approach of the Red Army, Stutthof was evacuated and Suzanne and Raja barely survived the eleven day Death march, in snow and freezing temperatures to the Tauentzien Camp, near Lauenburg. Suzanne became ill and was too sick join the evacuation march from Tauentzien on March 7, 1945. When the camp was liberated later in March, 1945 by the Red Army, Suzanne was in a coma. It was a full week before she recovered consciousness.

After liberation[edit]

Of her extended family of some thirty individuals only Suzanne, her mother and an uncle survived. After the war Suzanne attended school in Poland and in 1950 she immigrated to Israel, serving in the Israeli armed forces until 1952. She married David Rabinovici in 1953 and had two sons, born in 1955 and 1961. Suzanne Weksler, now Schoschana Rabinovici, has lived in Tel Aviv and Vienna, since 1964.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schoschana Rabinovici (1998). Thanks to My Mother. Puffin Books. pp. 001–246. ISBN 0-14-130596-7. 
  2. ^ "Thanks to My Mother". Publishers Weekly. 02/28. 2000. 
  3. ^ Bapalapa2. 1636. "Thanks to My Mother". Teen Ink. http://www.teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/1636/Thanks-to-My-Mother. 
  4. ^ Rebecca Rosen Lum (2000). "A mother’s love, metamorphosis amid the Holocaust". Jweekly.com. 05/05. 

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