Cilka's Journey
Cilka's Journey By Morris, Heather Book - 2019 | First U.S. edition

I'm so glad Heather Morris told Cilka's story. Because Cilka passed away before Morris began her conversations with Lale Sokolov, Morris had to fill in a lot of blanks with her own imaginings. But the spirit of the book is no less powerful.

That Cilka, who was a teenager when forced into sex slavery at Auschwitz-Birkenau, should be sentenced to hard labor in Siberia for "sleeping with the enemy" - as though she willingly chose that lot to gain a more-privileged concentration camp life- is to fail miserably to understand victimization and abuse. Cilka (and many others whose stories will never be known) made tragic decisions she never should have been in a position to have to make simply because, above all, she wanted to stay alive.

Cilka's Journey serves as a stark reminder that we must never forget the degradation and horrors perpetrated by brutal regimes. Another message here is the power of hope. Cilka somehow held onto hope through horrific circumstances where the end point was either unknown or years distant. Few people would have had the mental and emotional strength to endure as she did. These are the factors that imbue her story with such worth.

Kudos to Morris for once again telling a heartbreaking and powerful story. It deserved to be told, and Morris tells it well.

SuzeParker's rating:
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