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I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree
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About the Author

Laura Hillman (nee Hannelore Wolff) was born in 1923 in Aurich, Germany. She, along with her family and millions of other jews, was deported and sent to the concentration camps. A Schindler's List survivor, Laura now lives in Los Alamitoes, California, and devotes much of her time to talking in schools and colleges about her experiences and survival.

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In a straightforward first-person narrative, Hillman, who spent the last few months of WWII in Oskar Schindler's camp, recounts her harrowing experiences. While Laura is attending boarding school outside of Berlin, she receives a letter from her mother saying that Nazi soldiers have murdered her father. Soon after, she makes the first of many courageous moves by deciding to rejoin her mother and two younger brothers, who have received orders to be deported from Weimar, where they have been since the family was evacuated from Aurich, Germany. The family spends a brief period in a ghetto in Lublin, Poland, before they are forced to move to a labor camp, where they are separated. Among the horrors she experiences, Laura is violated and witnesses the death of one of her brothers. But in the camps she also meets Dick Hillman, the man she will one day marry. Clearly, it is Laura's memories of a saner, more tranquil world and her determination to begin a new life with Dick after the war ("One day, when this is over, I'll plant you a lilac bush," he promises) that motivate her to endure near starvation, physical abuse and mental torment even after she is transported to Auschwitz. Another ray of hope appears when Laura receives the news that both her name and Dick's have been placed on Schindler's list. Riveting from first page to last, this is a remarkable tale of survival. Ages 13-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Gr 9 Up-In a clear, objective narrative, Hillman (called by her German name, Hannelore, in the book) describes her life from April 1942, as a student at a private school in Berlin, until the German surrender in April 1945 that freed her from a detention camp. After her father's death, she left school and was deported with her mother and brothers to Poland. During her three years of captivity she was moved to several labor and concentration camps. Her inclusion on Oskar Schindler's list led, finally, to her deportation to the Brannlitz camp in Czechoslovakia, where Jewish prisoners were treated humanely. At the fourth detention camp-Budzyn-Hannelore met the man who would become her husband. Her growing love and concern for him; her strong instinct for survival; and her endurance in the face of deprivation, inhumane conditions, and near-starvation provide considerable inspiration. Several photos of family members are included, along with a map that clearly indicates the locations of the camps in which Hannelore was held prisoner. While strong language, descriptions of brutality, a rape scene, and sexual innuendos suggest an audience of mature teens, this readable account of loss and survival during Hitler's Holocaust belongs in most collections.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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