Cilka’s Journey

“She was just a girl, who became a woman, who was the bravest person Lale Sololov ever met”.   Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz has written a heart wrenching novel based on a real life person, Cilka Klein, who survived Auschwitz and the Gulag.  In this novel, the author, through incredible research reminds us about the human side of the Holocaust and helps us remember with her fine storytelling.

Cilka is merely 16 years old when she is imprisoned at Auschwitz.  How she survived there was cause for her guilt at being treated differently by the Nazi commandants….all of this against her will.  She stays alive by allowing humiliation and abuse while being the KAPO, the Jewish guard, in the building to which women were sent to their death, including her mother. After liberation, Cilka is accused by the Russians of collaborating with the enemy and sent to Siberia, the Gulag, for ten more years of  bare survival.  How she survives there, the characters she meets, some real, some fictional make for an amazing and heart wrenching read.

This story is a sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. At first, I hesitated to read either of these novels,fearing the pain of reading about that tragic time in history.  However, trhe author has done an excellent job of tempering the brutality and telling a story that needs to be told, so that we and future generations never forget.