Title: Cilka’s Journey
Author: Heather Morris
Pages: 352 Pages
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.
Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.
When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?
In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.
Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.
From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka’s journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story that has stayed with me since I read it. Therefore, I was eager to read the sequel Cilka’s Journey. We met Cilka in The Tattooist of Auschwitz and we saw the terrible way she was treated and the choices that she had to make. In Cilka’s Journey we follow Cilka to a Siberian Gulag.
In my own ignorance I did not know that some of the Jewish prisoners were not freed when the war was over. Those who were given jobs in the camp – jobs they did for survival – were then seen as conspirators with the Nazi’s and ended up in prison. This story is heartbreaking. Again, it is a fictionalised account of a real events and that makes it all the more powerful.
This series of books really does highlight just how much there is still to learn about the injustice that they Jewish people suffered and how it still needs to be discussed.
Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is available now.
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