Sala: More Than A Survivor
Written by Marsha Cook
As Told By Sala Lewis
Fidele Publishing, 2008
Born into the loving heart of a big, happy Polish family, Salucia (nicknamed Sala) has the kind of childhood most little girls only dream of. Short on money, but wealthy in love, her family of ten is knit together with strong values, laughter, and sacred Jewish traditions. But when Sala is just ten years old, her fairy tale childhood becomes a living nightmare and everything she has been raised to believe about faith, God and humanity is challenged.
With the Second World War raging throughout Europe and Hitler gaining in power, Sala watches as one by one, the young people of her neighborhood are taken away to Nazi work camps. When the day arrives for her beloved older sister, Dora, to go, Sala does not think her family will ever recover from the loss. Their once happy home becomes a quiet and somber place, reflecting the joyless tone of the near-deserted neighborhood. One day Sala returns from play to find her family home sealed up and her family vanished, their only crime — being Jewish. Thus begins Sala’s life in the Gestapo work camp; her tender childhood lost to years of cruelty and a process of dehumanization made bearable only by her faith in God and her miraculous reunion with Dora.
This was not an easy story to read. As a teen, my heart was broken by stories like The Hiding Place, and The Diary of Anne Frank. All these years later, Sala’s story left me feeling much the same way. It was sad and troubling to read of the despicable conditions which were forced on human beings by other so-called human beings. Nevertheless, it is a story that needs to be read and remembered, a story of a time when an entire race was terrorized on the whim of a madman. A time that in Sala’s own words must be remembered so as never to be repeated.
So much more than just a story of survival, this story of raw, human courage blends glimpses into the hell of the Holocaust with heartwarming snippets of personal letters written by young Sala to herself as she struggles to make sense of the insanity her life has become. Her determination to hold on to her faith and to realize her dreams in the face of incredible odds is truly an inspiration. I was pleased that Sala’s story continued on, beyond the war, and I was given the opportunity to see her recreate her life and realize some of her childhood dreams.
Not eloquently written, the story’s beauty is in its simplicity. Written in an honest, straightforward style, this memoir reads like a very personal journal, the journal of a woman who has endured more hardship than most ever will, but who learns through that very hardship to celebrate victories and embrace life without questioning why.
More than a journal, Sala: More Than A Survivor is a journey, and one I really hope you will want to take.