“From its gripping beginning to its touching conclusion, Ruth Klein's memoir offers an unusual personal perspective on the long-term impact of the Holocaust on her family but also on dispersed communities of fellow survivors, from displaced persons camps in post-war Germany to a neighborhood in transition in mid-century Los Angeles to a retirement home in modern-day Tel-Aviv. Her family's is a story of dreadful losses and pain leading to a kind of reconciliation through Klein's gathering and keeping of memories, including those preserved in the fascinating photographs scattered throughout her account." --CANDACE CLEMENTS, Art Historian, Independent Scholar, author of several articles on eighteenth-century (or 18th-century) French art and the twentieth-century artist Francis Picabia
"Ruth: Surviving the Survivors is a compelling memoir, written from the unique perspective of a daughter of Holocaust Survivors. Not just survival from the atrocities brought about by Nazi Germany, but also about survival in a new country with parents unable to recover from their traumas. Klein sheds light on the 'survivor baby boom' and the oppressive burden of having been ordained to be a substitute for family members who were lost in the Holocaust. Interspersed throughout the memoir are a fantastic collection of black-and-white photographs that give depth and additional meaning to each of the stories." --PAUL STRUG, JD, American Associates of Ben Gurion University, Zin Fellow, Cohort I
"An engrossing, compelling story--it is profound, harrowing and intensely moving. This story needs to be told, it needs to be read and needs to be understood. As a reader, I'm grateful to you for having written it. You have my absolute respect." --GRANT GOCHIN, author of Malice, Murder, and Manipulation
"I found this book very compelling; I read the entire book in one sitting--just could not put it down. It resonates with the history, feelings, and struggles of Holocaust survivors and the second generation. The highlight for me was the last chapter and its new character, ending this memoir as an affirmation of life." --JOYCE LEVINE, Secretary, American Gatherings of Adult Children of the Holocaust Survivors, Former Secretary, National Survivors of the Holocaust, and President, Manhattan Chapter of Women Holocaust Survivors
"Told in a clear and readable manner, Ruth is a chronicle of success and persistence in the face of great adversity. Surviving the traumas inflicted by parents who were irreparably damaged by the Holocaust cannot have been easy. Klein is very brave to have made her story public, and [she is] to be commended for her research to fill in the history of the times and the history of her family." --MARGARET L. KRIPKE, Professor Emerita and Former Executive Vice President, U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
"A riveting portrayal of a remarkable survivor who, despite all odds, pulled her life together and overcame immense challenges from her childhood. Starting with the emotional trauma of a Holocaust shattered parents, assuming a great deal of responsibility when her younger twin siblings were born, and sacrificing to keep her family intact. As an accomplished and ardent pianist, her passion remains her greatest outlet and strength in dealing with many adversities in her life and effecting true inner peace to her soul.Ruth: Surviving the Survivors is an exceptionally touching memoir." --KAMAL MANOLY, Senior Level Technical Advisor for Structural Mechanics, Division of Engineering, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"In her engrossing memoir Surviving the Survivors, Ruth Klein paints an accurate yet heart-wrenching picture of what it is like to grow up with parents who were irreparably damaged by the Holocaust. While every second-generation (2G) Holocaust survivor's story is unique, there are threads of similarity that will leave other 2Gs, me included, nodding their heads in solidarity with Klein's experiences and behaviors. And her unfailingly positive outlook and drive to succeed will leave you cheering for Klein to the final word of her book." --EMILY WANDERER COHEN, Jewish Book Council, Author of From Generation to Generation
"In her debut memoir, Surviving the Survivors, author Ruth Klein, with both tenderness and candor delves deeply into her family's dark and horrifying past as victims of the Holocaust. Though some miraculously survive, despite the unimaginable, like Klein, each must bear witness to the many who do not." --SANDE BORITZ BERGER, author of The Sweetness
"This important memoir brings light to the kin of Holocaust survivors. Klein's vivid description of her turbulent first decades is replete with empathy, clarity, and even humor as she takes us deep within her struggle for her own identity and her attempts at freedom from her parents' ghosts. Stripped of all but their values and ethics, their only gift was the support of Ruth's musical talent, which singlehandedly saved and sustained her throughout the adversity of her youth and into adulthood."--DENNIS PARKER, Endowed Professor of Music, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Ruth Klein’s Surviving the Survivors is an incisive and devastating memoir of life as the child of Holocaust survivors in which the horror of the parents’ experience is transmitted (even compounded) in the children. That Klein writes this story with such clarity and elegance, and ultimately with such compassion is testimony to the resilience we must always hope for in recovering from trauma. Yet the scars are also there.
As the child of German parents who escaped before the war, my experience as a “second gen” child was very different from Klein’s. Yet through this stunning book, I recognized the tropes of watchfulness, the demand for perfection, the continued admiration of European culture, the always-otherness of first-generation Americans that Klein depicts so well. As an author, I was fascinated with, and so admiring of Klein’s raw and compelling report of a childhood parallel in time to my own, but fraught with much that a child should never experience. Surviving the Survivors had me at Klein’s husband’s beautiful foreword, but kept me riveted throughout.”—Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of Even in Darkness and Hard Cider
Heart-wrenching, fascinating, memorable
Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2020
“Surviving the Survivors” is a truly apt title for this book—a deeply personal memoir that also has large intergenerational implications. In documenting her family's terrifying ordeal both during and after the Holocaust, the author has given us an unusual close-up of one of history’s great crimes. Despite the psychological and sometimes physical cruelties of her own experience as the daughter of survivors (one can hardly call this “secondary trauma”), she emerges with a sharp intelligence, an extraordinary memory for detail, and a need to understand her parents' suffering as a blueprint for her own. She has researched and documented the devastation her parents endured as cultured, upper-class people who lost everyone and everything and were forced to rebuild their lives in a new country under humiliating circumstances. She comes to understand her own role as a replacement for older siblings who perished—and whose names she never even knew. In recounting the horrors, the author offers compassion, absurdity, even humor. The reader rejoices with her when a piano appears in the family household, with its gift of hope.”
Ruth Klein chronicles her life as the child of Holocaust survivors in an unblinking portrait of nightmarish dysfunction, anguish, struggle and finally, redemption. Her profoundly damaged parents do their best to insulate the family from the horrors of their past, yet in doing so they inflict damage on a new generation—those surviving the survivors. Klein’s book is a compelling look at the echoing effects of the Nazi’s murderous attempt to erase European Jewry.
Soon to be released in Audible format.