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Leaves Swept by a Cruel Wind

by Ilona Elefánt Schwarcz ©2013, Paperback, ISBN: , 300 pp
 

Written in the DP camps immediately after liberation, the historic significance of Ilona Elefánt Schwarcz’s testimony, so close to the actual experience, cannot be overestimated. Completed within four years and three months of liberation, these journals still have the full heat of intense rage and abject sadness of the here and now. However, they are also leavened by the patience and intellect needed for remarkable “rememberings.” For such a private document, the journals were meticulously organized, divided into two sets of alternating parts: The most introspective, thoughtful, and thought-provoking passages introduce “rememberings,” or recollections, of the cruel events of the Holocaust experienced by Ilona and her sister, Eta.


Readers will be inspired by the tenacity and love of Ilona, who fights to survive mainly for her frail sister, Eta, whom Ilona saves on numerous occasions. Readers will also be saddened to realize the long-term effects of the Holocaust. For survivors, the Holocaust did not end at liberation. These journals underscore this fact. Dr. Vera Goodkin, Professor Emerita and Associate of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education writes, “Each fragment of this incredible mosaic dovetails with the next to create a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and injustice.”

CONTENTS

About the Cover i

Foreword iii

Editors’ Notes v

Introduction vii

Recollections of Pre-Holocaust Life in Miskolc xv

Journal One:

May 27, 1945 through July 3, 1946

Feldafing am See

May 27, 1945 Feldafing Displaced Persons (DP) Camp 1

June 2, 1945 Feldafing DP Camp 2

June 3, 1945 Feldafing DP Camp 4

June 4, 1945 Remembering, May 20, 1944,

Miskolc Ghetto 5

June 5, 1945 Remembering, June 5, 1944,

Displaced from the Miskolc Ghetto 7

June 6, 1945 Remembering, Deportation to the

Brick Factory 11

June 12, 1945 Remembering, June 12, 1944,

The Brick Factory Barracks 12

June 26, 1945 Remembering, Deportation to

Auschwitz-Birkenau 15

Munich

July 10, 1945 Remembering, June 12, 1944,

Train Journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau 17

Aug. 29, 1945 Remembering, The Journey to

Auschwitz-Birkenau Continues 21

Sept. 6, 1945 Munich 25

Nov. 30, 1945 Remembering, Arrival and Selection at

Auschwitz-Birkenau 26

Feldafing

Dec. 1, 1945 Remembering, Zählappell and Transfer

to Krakow-Płaszow 31

Jan. 7, 1946 Remembering, Płaszow

Concentration Camp 39

Mar. 30, 1946 Remembering, Płaszow 41

April 2, 1946 Remembering, Płaszow 44

July 3, 1946 Remembering, Płaszow 50

 

Journal Two:

July 9, 1946 through May 30, 1947

Feldafing

July 9, 1946 Remembering, From KrakoÅLw-PłaszoÅLw to

Auschwitz-Birkenau 53

July 13, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 57

Aug. 2, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 61

Kurhaus Recuperation Hospital, Feldafing

Aug. 25, 1946 66

Elizabeth Hospital, Feldafing

Sept. 1, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 67

Sept. 3, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 69

Sept. 18, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 72

Oct. 10, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 74

Feldafing

Nov. 29, 1946 Remembering, Auschwitz-Birkenau 76

Feb.16, 1947 Remembering, August 1944,

Auschwitz-Birkenau 80

April 30, 1947 Remembering, Auschwitz Registration 84

May 30, 1947 Remembering, The Transport from the

ŁoÅLdź Ghetto 90

 

Journal Three:

June 11, 1947 through June 24, 1947

Bad Kolgruk

June 11, 1947 Remembering, Transport to Augsburg 93

June 13, 1947 Remembering, Cattle Car to Augsburg 96

June 15, 1947 Remembering, Augsburg Michelwerke 99

June 17, 1947 Remembering, Augsburg 101

June 18, 1947 Remembering, Augsburg KUKA 103

June 20, 1947 Remembering, The Sick Room 111

June 20, 1947 Remembering, Surgery or Not 118

June 22, 1947 Remembering, Our Potato, Bran,

and Cabbage Diet 119

June 22, 1947 Remembering, War News and Air Raids 124

June 23, 1947 Remembering, The Search for Food 129

June 24, 1947 Corruption in the DP Camp 134

June 24, 1947 Remembering, Air Raids and

Finding Food 136

Journal Four:

July 1, 1947 through February 27, 1948

Feldafing

July 1, 1947 Remembering, Jenő 143

July 1, 1947 Remembering, Imre 145

July 1, 1947 Remembering, The Escapee

from Augsburg 146

July 20, 1947 Remembering, Rumors 148

July 25, 1947 Remembering, Work and Sabotage 150

Aug. 10, 1947 Remembering, What Comes Next? 153

Aug. 25, 1947 Remembering, April 1945, Leaving

Michelwerke 157

Sept. 3, 1947 Remembering, The Journey to

Mühldorf 161

Nov. 30, 1947 Israel is Reborn! 166

Jan. 20, 1948 Remembering, Mühldorf 167

Feb. 15, 1948 Remembering, Air Raid at the Village of

Mühldorf 172

Feb. 27, 1948 Remembering, The Gardens at

Mühldorf 175

 

Journal Five:

March 25, 1948 through August 31, 1949

Feldafing

Mar. 25, 1948 Purim and Yahrzeit 178

Mar. 28, 1948 Remembering, Our Return to Miskolc 180

May 29, 1948 Remembering, Mühldorf and New Shoes 180

Bad Wörishofen

Aug. 10, 1948 Remembering, Leaving Mühldorf 182

Aug. 10, 1948 Remembering, The Cattle Cars Again 184

Feldafing

Sept. 27, 1948 Remembering, April 27 or 28, 1945,

Poing Train Station 187

Jan. 29, 1949 Remembering, Back in the Cattle Cars 194

Mar. 17, 1949 Remembering, April 30, 1945,

Liberation 200

April 8, 1949 Remembering, Liberation 203

April 8, 1949 Remembering, Still in the Cattle Cars 205

April 20, 1949 The American Consulate 207

 

Epilogue

Aug. 31, 1949 New York 209

 

Acknowledgments 211

Works Cited 213

Endnotes 215

Chronology 229

Glossary 235

Family Trees 242

ElefaÅLnt Family Tree

Hipszer Family Tree

Hubscher Family Tree

Maps 246

Photographs 249

Documents 270

Index 280

This is a book about cruelty, a book about the worst of what human beings do to each other in the name of ideology and ignorance, but it also is a book about enduring love, unbelievable generosity of one sister to another, and of constancy of purpose in the most horrific of circumstances. Leaves Swept by a Cruel Wind is a journal kept by Holocaust survivor Ilona Elefánt Schwarcz in the days, months, and years after her May 1945 liberation from the horrors of Nazi concentration and death camps. The text is fresh, riveting, and very moving. Leaves Swept by a Cruel Wind deserves to be read by everyone who wants to probe why Jews asked “the Guardian of Israel,” “Where were you when we needed you?” And it must be read by all of us who need to explore the question, “Where am I when people need me?”

Dr. Carol Rittner, RSM

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Distinguished Professor of Holocaust & Genocide Studies

The Dr. Marsha Raticoff Grossman Professor of Holocaust Studies

 

This memoir for high school students and the community at large is a vivid description by Ilona Elefant of her experiences during the Holocaust and in the Displaced Persons camps after World War II. Especially moving are her recollections of her time in Auschwitz-Birkenau when she saved her baby sister, Eta Elefant. This book is remarkable in that it was written almost immediately after the horrific time of the Holocaust; Ilona began the journals on May 27, 1945, shortly after liberation. Leaves Swept by a Cruel Wind is filled with sadness as Ilona recollects the tragedy of the family members who perished during the Holocaust. Yet, in the final pages of the journals, Ilona celebrates Eta’s marriage, the birth of Eta’s son, Ivan, the family’s new beginnings in the United States—from despair, hope.

Dr. Paul Winkler

Executive Director of the New Jersey

Commission on Holocaust Education

Leaves Swept by a Cruel Wind

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