What is a summary of Sara Nomberg-Przytyk's memoir Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The manuscript for Sara Nomberg-Przytyk's memoir Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land was discovered in 1966 by Eli Pfefferkorn in Yad Vashem, a memorial for Holocaust victims erected in Jerusalem. At the time, Pfefferkorn had no knowledge if the manuscript's author had survived the Holocaust or not. Later, in 1981, Roslyn Hirsch was asked by Sigmund Strochlitz to translate 40 pages of the manuscript and given a substantial grant to do so. Hirsch became intrigued by the author's ability to so vividly capture characters that she decided to venture to Jerusalem to seek out and translate the entire manuscript. After the manuscript was fully translated in 1982, both Eli Pfefferkorn and Hirsch went on a quest to trace the whereabouts of the author and found her still alive in Canada.

Prior to Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land, Nomberg-Przytyk had written an initial autobiography detailing her experience of having been rounded up in Lublin, Poland, and sent to the Bialystok Ghetto in Bialystok. She survived the Bialystok Ghetto liquidation by being sent on a train Auschwitz. Her autobiography Auschwitz picks up where the first left off.

Nomberg-Przytyk was in Auschwitz for a year and, while in Auschwitz, managed to acquire a job at the infirmary helping Dr. Mengele, notorious for selecting prisoners for execution in the gas chamber and for performing torturous medical experiments. Her chapters are full of stories of the people she met that make them come alive as sometimes very complex characters. Stories include a beautiful Polish Jew being exploited by Nazi doctors, a midget dying of electrocution from the fence, an adolescent girl escaping the gas chamber by hiding in the chimney of the car used to take the dead to the crematorium, and the Jews chosen to serve the SS by betraying their own people. Many of her accounts also serve as strong testimony to Dr. Mengele's inhumane medical experiments.  

Nomberg-Przytyk was released from Auschwitz when the Russians gained ground in Poland in 1944, forcing the Nazis to evacuate Auschwitz. However, she was also taken to Germany as a prisoner but eventually released. She then ran to a small German town where she boarded a train and returned to Lublin.

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shmindle | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

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Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land is an autobiography by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk.  Sara was born in 1915 in Poland.  The manuscript for this book was written in 1966, and the book is comprised of many short entries that detail Sara's experience in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  In the camp, Sara was moved to a Jewish part in the female block.  She gets a job at the camp infirmary, which Dr. Mengele leads.  He is an extremely sadistic person who tortures and murders many victims from the elders to children to Jews. Sara recalls betrayals and horrifying experiences in the camp.   By 1944, the allies close in and the camp is evacuated.  Sara is taken to Germany where she is let free.  At the end, she returns to Lublin, her home town in Poland.

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