This post contains affiliate links. When I recently read The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel, I learned about Jews who hid in the forest to survive the Nazis. I hadn’t know about that before reading Harmel’s book. Ironically, one of the next books I picked up was the non-fiction book, Surviving the Forest by Adiva Geffen. This book tells the true story of Shurka and her family who disappear into the forest to try to survive the Holocaust.
About Surviving the Forest by Adiva Geffen
Shurka is a youthful, married woman with a young daughter when the Germans invade Poland and upend their lives. Her husband, Avraham, is taken to a work camp, though he bribes officials, so he is able to frequently visit his family. Avraham wisely convinces his in-laws and Shurka that they must escape to the forest to survive. However, Shurka has just given birth to their second child, a weakly son. They delay going into the forest for as long as possible, but when a Jewish family nearby is murdered, they realize they have no choice.
This book tells Shurka’s story of not only surviving the Holocaust but the years afterward. Her story is a compelling one. I can’t imagine living as they did for three or four years. Avraham was resourceful and largely responsible for his family’s ability to survive the war.
My Thoughts on the Book
This story was originally written in Hebrew, so I was reading the translation. That may be why, especially in the beginning of the book, the story read like a fairytale. Shurka lived such a beautiful, happy life before the Germans came.
However, she soon experienced more hardship than any of us can even imagine.
I loved that the story came directly from Shurka and was nonfiction. By the end of the book, I felt like I really knew her and her life in her small Polish town.
My only complaint is that, unfortunately, my copy of the book was poorly bound and pages literally came out as I was reading.
I give Surviving the Forest by Adiva Geffen 4 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.