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Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany

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A thrilling piece of undiscovered history, this is the true account of a young Jewish woman who survived World War II in Berlin. In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewis A thrilling piece of undiscovered history, this is the true account of a young Jewish woman who survived World War II in Berlin. In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewish community, and vanished into the city. In the years that followed, Marie lived under an assumed identity, forced to accept shelter wherever she found it. Always on the run, never certain whom she could trust, Marie moved between almost twenty different safe-houses, living with foreign workers, staunch communists, and even committed Nazis. Only her quick-witted determination and the most hair-raising strokes of luck allowed her to survive.


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A thrilling piece of undiscovered history, this is the true account of a young Jewish woman who survived World War II in Berlin. In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewis A thrilling piece of undiscovered history, this is the true account of a young Jewish woman who survived World War II in Berlin. In 1941, Marie Jalowicz Simon, a nineteen-year-old Berliner, made an extraordinary decision. All around her, Jews were being rounded up for deportation, forced labor, and extermination. Marie took off her yellow star, turned her back on the Jewish community, and vanished into the city. In the years that followed, Marie lived under an assumed identity, forced to accept shelter wherever she found it. Always on the run, never certain whom she could trust, Marie moved between almost twenty different safe-houses, living with foreign workers, staunch communists, and even committed Nazis. Only her quick-witted determination and the most hair-raising strokes of luck allowed her to survive.

30 review for Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany

  1. 4 out of 5

    ❆ Crystal ❆

    This is a story of a remarkable woman who, with the help of friends, went underground in Berlin during WWII 1942 - 1945. She initially escaped arrest from the Gestapo, and was able to survive terrifying events, thwart starvation, and to trust numerous people to protect her and not denounce her. The story is one that I hadn't heard before. I've read stories of survivors that were locked away in small room and nearly starved to death waiting for the war to end. Her story is unique in that she had This is a story of a remarkable woman who, with the help of friends, went underground in Berlin during WWII 1942 - 1945. She initially escaped arrest from the Gestapo, and was able to survive terrifying events, thwart starvation, and to trust numerous people to protect her and not denounce her. The story is one that I hadn't heard before. I've read stories of survivors that were locked away in small room and nearly starved to death waiting for the war to end. Her story is unique in that she had forged documents and an identity card (that weren't that good, but luckily she was able to survive with them). She would have to hide, slip away and flee in order to not show her documents as she knew they weren't that good. She lived openly with sooooo many people knowing about her and protecting her that it is really a miracle she wasn't caught. She moved from place to place staying a couple weeks here and a couple weeks there... pretending to be a relative staying for a while. She had to sleep with men for protection, starve as some of her hosts wouldn't share their food... and cower for hours in corners away from windows. Yet, other times, she would stand in line for hours getting provisions for the families that she was staying with. She also discusses what happened with the Russians came to Berlin... those weeks of mass rapes, hunger and the mistreatment to the Germans by the Russians. Of which, she feel victim to this as well. The prologue and afterword were written by her son (a historian). He states that multiple people requested for Marie to share her story with the world, but she refused every time. She never talked about it at home with her family, with people she worked with, or those she knew personally. She was a very closed person... keeping all her memories of those years to herself. 26 December 1997, her son set a tape recorder down on the table asking her to share her story, and she proceeded to make 77 tapes in chronological order... amounting to 900 pages of typed transcript. Marie died 16 September 1998.... with the last of her tapes made only a few days before she died. It's not clear, if her wishes were for this to be made into a book. My thoughts are no... I'm not convinced that was her wishes when she made these tapes. In the 15 years that followed, her son researched the many names, address and dates for accuracy. She had kept a diary for a couple of years while in hiding but she had to leave them behind after a bombing... and they were never recovered. Pictures and her identity papers were saved and are shown in this book. This is were the review is hard for me... Her amazing story is 5 stars, but the telling of the story was choppy, and difficult at times. It took me rereading multiple passages to understand the meaning of what was being said. The use of names was a challenge as well... she would talk for a long time about a person calling them by their last name... and then all of a sudden speak about them using their first name. It was difficult to make the connection of whom she was talking about. I had to flip around multiple times in confusion trying to find their full name so I could get a clearer understanding. I'm not sure if my difficulty was because the book was originally written in German and than translated to English and therefore things were lost in translation. OR, if it's because the book is basically a transcription of her tapes. The voice of the book is a matter-of-fact account that happened a long ago and it has limited feeling. It just felt like a sterile account of events. I wish the son would have taken the extra step to have an author write her story. I think it would have been so moving and impactful if the writing would have been better. I suppose his intent was to have the story "in her own words," but it made the book a hard read for me. So, overall, I'm settling on 3.5 stars, I'm happy I read about her amazing life.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Xanthi

    Whilst I admire the strength and determination it took Simon to survive, I just could not warm to her or her story. It is told in a relentless manner, on how she moved from one hiding place/refuge to another. Many people and many places were involved and the names pass by in a rapid blur. There is little pathos, and much matter-of factness. Perhaps something got lost in the translation?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marti

    I remember how I thought Fellini's cinematic visions of Italian society were the invention of an extremely flamboyant personality until I actually visited Rome and realized they were more like serious documentaries. After reading these memoirs, I believe the same thing can be said of "The Tin Drum." What made Marie Simon's memoirs particularly engrossing was her description of all the severely dysfunctional people she encountered in her roughly four years hiding from the authorities to avoid "be I remember how I thought Fellini's cinematic visions of Italian society were the invention of an extremely flamboyant personality until I actually visited Rome and realized they were more like serious documentaries. After reading these memoirs, I believe the same thing can be said of "The Tin Drum." What made Marie Simon's memoirs particularly engrossing was her description of all the severely dysfunctional people she encountered in her roughly four years hiding from the authorities to avoid "being sent East." The level of detail is astounding considering that she recorded these stories into a tape recorder when she was around 90 years old at the insistence of her son (a professional historian who later fact checked everything and found most of it to be accurate). It's pretty easy to see why the author, who became a college professor after the war, did not want to discuss the details of her life with her students, acquaintances, or her son since a lot of it involved having to submit to unwanted advances of numerous unsavory men and later the Russian liberators. Even the supposedly "decent" anti-Fascist men (who allowed her to hide out in their incredibly small flats) took advantage while their wives looked the other way. Therefore, I can't say it's a gay romp, but amazingly this story does contain a great deal of darkly comedic relief, especially in the portraits of the various neurotic people she stayed with, and and who got on her nerves even if she did realize she she owed them a debt of gratitude. These include people like: "The Rubber Director" (no spoilers here); Johanna Koch (who, before the war, was a mousy housewife transformed by the excitement of being a do-gooder into a buffoonish Joan of Arc), and Camilla Fiochi (another middle-aged, clearly bi-polar circus acrobat). Most surprising is that most of the Nazis Simon encounters seem straight out of Hogan's Heroes (perhaps all the competent ones were at The Front). There were many examples of near arrest, like the time she climbed out a bathroom window to the street, even convincing two policemen to help her. Later Simon and her temporary Dutch guest-worker "husband" rent an apartment in a working class section of town from a Frau Blase and her son Kurt. This was a gutsy move because this part of town was largely comprised of the most loyal Swastika-waving party members and both their landlady and their neighbors in that part of Berlin were not exceptions. However, they took a liking to Simon even though they had been told she was "half Jewish" (which they found less problematic than being full-Jewish). She goes on to say that her landlady's son "certainly did not fit my image of the SA." Instead, he was a good-natured dimwit, who was terrorized by a tyrannical wife, and their equally tyrannical children. He regrettably married his wife because he overheard her in a grocery store bragging about her naturally curly hair, thinking: "Any woman who does not need a hairdresser is the woman for me." Obviously this is only the tip of the iceberg. I don't know how Simon remembered so much detail because even the notebooks, in which she attempted to write things down, were lost. Nor does she seem to have the type of photographic memory like Marilu Henner (who can remember truly miniscule details from any date in her entire life with 100% accuracy). However, I guess when you are fairly young and suffer this much trauma, the details tend to stick with you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mcsweeney

    Fantastic... Great book. Really well written.I was surprised that the author was able to describe life in Berlin at that time in an unexpected way.... After reading "Woman in Berlin", I thought that I knew what to expect. Her experience was nuanced and her bravery in sharing the details of her struggle was breathtaking, especially considering the fact that she knew that her family would read it. The drudgery of her life "gone to ground" was surprising. I was expecting more hiding and less interna Fantastic... Great book. Really well written.I was surprised that the author was able to describe life in Berlin at that time in an unexpected way.... After reading "Woman in Berlin", I thought that I knew what to expect. Her experience was nuanced and her bravery in sharing the details of her struggle was breathtaking, especially considering the fact that she knew that her family would read it. The drudgery of her life "gone to ground" was surprising. I was expecting more hiding and less international travel! The different types of people who helped her made the whole story so much richer. She makes a very interesting point that, had she fit the stereotypical description of a Jew (or maybe if she had been a man) maybe she wouldn't have been treated so well... By so many of her nazi neighbours. One thing that raised questions for me was the fact that she dictated this memoir when she was much older and also in a way it was written at the behest of her son. The more salacious details must have been lost as a consequence of that... I never really felt that I was reading a young woman's story. As a biography it is a knockout but as a riveting story it does fall a little bit flat. If she had finished the recordings sooner and maybe had the opportunity to read it as one piece and edit it herself maybe she could have fixed this. The ocean of characters was also a challenge for me to keep account of... Her honesty in telling the truth as she remembers it is mind blowing - when she refused to go with her older relative to look after her in a concentration camp, when she says she cried over the amazing taste of cake after so much deprivation but she couldn't cry when her family and friends were deported to their deaths or when she casually mentions being raped/assaulted "I didn't mind too much"...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trisha Cook

    While I have given this memoir 5 stars I did have some difficulty with it. The overall story was a matter of fact account of what it was like to live as a Jew in Nazi Berlin in hiding. The problem is that it was so matter of fact that it was hard to connect with the story teller. There was very little emotion and an almost snobbish tone to it all, although there were some parts where I felt the snobbishness was justified. Marie's experience of WWII is a much different account than I am used to r While I have given this memoir 5 stars I did have some difficulty with it. The overall story was a matter of fact account of what it was like to live as a Jew in Nazi Berlin in hiding. The problem is that it was so matter of fact that it was hard to connect with the story teller. There was very little emotion and an almost snobbish tone to it all, although there were some parts where I felt the snobbishness was justified. Marie's experience of WWII is a much different account than I am used to reading (I read The Pianist and found myself unimpressed for reasons I will list below) in that she never went to a concentration camp, there were helpful Germans and even Nazis that helped her hide and survive but during liberation by the Russians she speaks of the raping that occurred as though it really wasnt that big of a deal. I should correct myself here. It wasnt that big of a deal for her but she does acknowledge that it was devastating for other women. The only time we see some semblance of emotion from Marie is a bit after liberation when she was with a man she actually wanted to be with, that she finally found some sort of connection with and had a mental breakdown. I am probably being too harsh in my critique of her as there is no doubt that she had to shut all of her emotion down during this time in her life. To be emotional while trying to survive fanatical mass murderers hell bent on wiping people off of the face of the planet because of their religious beliefs could prove deadly. In the end she is more like some WWII Veterans in that I have known many that refused to talk about their experience in the war for many years, sometimes up until their death bed, and showed that they had very little emotion during the horrible ordeal because if they had not hardened themselves, they may very well have lost their minds. Yes, Im all over the place with this review as Im still trying to figure out how I feel about the memoir in its overall tone, but I stand by my five star rating because I did find the story itself extremely fascinating and different. Much better than The Pianist, in my humble opinion, which is a similar type of memoir, since I didnt have to read about the protagonist worrying about not damaging his piano hands every other sentence rather than just staying alive.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was an interesting book, I guess. I'm not sure what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, I couldn't connect to the protagonist - she had this aura of snobbishness and an I'm-better-than-you attitude. She rarely found good things to say about the people who were helping her hide and survive in WWII Berlin. It was a rare thing for her to connect to someone. And when she was involved in a love affair, she seemed to just abruptly cut it off - just like that. It was weird. Anyway, I'm glad I read it This was an interesting book, I guess. I'm not sure what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, I couldn't connect to the protagonist - she had this aura of snobbishness and an I'm-better-than-you attitude. She rarely found good things to say about the people who were helping her hide and survive in WWII Berlin. It was a rare thing for her to connect to someone. And when she was involved in a love affair, she seemed to just abruptly cut it off - just like that. It was weird. Anyway, I'm glad I read it, but unhappy that it didn't have a more positive "I survived!" tone. Maybe that's asking too much for a survival story though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tatuu

    The Guardian ran a story about this book yesterday (16th March, 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014... The Guardian ran a story about this book yesterday (16th March, 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz Estrada

    You know, before reading this intriguing memoir, I always thought: Why didn't more Jews just rip out their yellow star and act like "normal" Germans? But as I got engrossed in this book, I realized it wasn't as easy as we might have thought. Fake names, ID'S ( which were fairly easy to get if you had money, but just as easy to spot as fake by any Nazi personnel) and hiding from all people you knew in your past were not easy pickings. What I learned most about this story was the courage of not ju You know, before reading this intriguing memoir, I always thought: Why didn't more Jews just rip out their yellow star and act like "normal" Germans? But as I got engrossed in this book, I realized it wasn't as easy as we might have thought. Fake names, ID'S ( which were fairly easy to get if you had money, but just as easy to spot as fake by any Nazi personnel) and hiding from all people you knew in your past were not easy pickings. What I learned most about this story was the courage of not just Jews gone underground, but the many Germans who were, like us, just regular folk, trying to get by in a nightmarish scenario. So yes, you meet "altruistic" reds, "decent" gentiles and a lot of incompetent "Nazis" but all out for their own survival in this Kafka-esque hell that was Berlin at that time. What Marie Simon had to endure should be a morality tale against the evil of racism, corruption, greed and above all ignorance. Kudos to her and all those able to survive on their own wits and merits. A slow read at first, but then a true page turner.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katy Derbyshire

    Painfully honest memoir looking at exactly how a Jewish woman managed to survive in wartime Berlin.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    I just finished this book last night and I must say I can HIGHLY recommend it. It had a knack for showing each character’s individuality and their internal contradictions—there were no heroes in this story, and even many of the Nazis were not monsters. Marie Simon, a German Jew from a middle class family, an only child whose parents died before the deportations started, spent (save for an abortive flight to Bulgaria) three years “gone to ground” on Berlin on papers she’d borrowed from a helpful w I just finished this book last night and I must say I can HIGHLY recommend it. It had a knack for showing each character’s individuality and their internal contradictions—there were no heroes in this story, and even many of the Nazis were not monsters. Marie Simon, a German Jew from a middle class family, an only child whose parents died before the deportations started, spent (save for an abortive flight to Bulgaria) three years “gone to ground” on Berlin on papers she’d borrowed from a helpful woman and then altered to better fit herself. She stayed with a long series of different hosts and estimates that over 20 people could share credit for having saved her life. At the same time, many of her rescuers, although they were undoubtedly risking their lives for her, were very also unkind to her, and Marie had complicated and often painful relationships with them. She does a good job showing the hypocrisies: the committed Communist who looked down on working class people, the gynecologist who was helping save Jews left and right while cheering the German war successes, the Nazi sympathizer who blackmailed Marie while at the same time treating her lovingly like a daughter, and so on. Marie often had to barter her body to stay safe, something she also speaks about frankly and without self pity, as if she was only describing what she had for breakfast. I’m sure many other Jews in hiding had to go through the same experiences, but few of the other accounts I’ve read have touched on this. This is definitely a win, especially if you’re interested in Jews hiding in plain sight in Germany.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lewyn

    As the title indicates, this article is a memoir of the author's experiences as a Jew in Berlin during the Holocaust, trying to avoid concentration camps. I was surprised by how vividly she recollected the people she hid with and ran into during those years. (In the interest of full disclosure, I note that my father has coauthored a similar memoir about his years underground in Berlin; however, this book is more about relationships and less about gun-toting adventures than my father's book). The As the title indicates, this article is a memoir of the author's experiences as a Jew in Berlin during the Holocaust, trying to avoid concentration camps. I was surprised by how vividly she recollected the people she hid with and ran into during those years. (In the interest of full disclosure, I note that my father has coauthored a similar memoir about his years underground in Berlin; however, this book is more about relationships and less about gun-toting adventures than my father's book). The most fascinating part of the story was the chapter about 1943-45, when she living openly in a working-class neighborhood. Her "cover" was not quite a cover at all: she told neighbors that she was a half-Jew in order to explain her avoidance of official channels, on the theory (I guess) that no one would believe she was a full Jew if she made such an incriminating claim. (Half-Jews were not routinely murdered, but nevertheless were at some risk). Many of her neighbors and acquaintances were pro-Hitler, but none bothered to contact the Gestapo. Just as evil triumphs when good people do nothing, good triumphs when not-so-good people do nothing. Comment Comment | Permalink

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Norcross

    This is either badly written or really badly translated into English. I thought I was going to like it but the writing annoyed me so much, I gave up 10% of the way through.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bob Schnell

    Advanced Reading Copy review Due to be published September 8, 2015 What would it have been like to remove the yellow star from your blouse and hide in plain sight in Berlin during WWII? That is Marie Jalowicz' story, as told to her son over many years. The resulting book "Underground in Berlin" is a fresh perspective on life in that German city during a time of suspicion, rationing and fear. Maria was an educated Polish Jew in Germany when Hitler came to power and her parents died. Left on her ow Advanced Reading Copy review Due to be published September 8, 2015 What would it have been like to remove the yellow star from your blouse and hide in plain sight in Berlin during WWII? That is Marie Jalowicz' story, as told to her son over many years. The resulting book "Underground in Berlin" is a fresh perspective on life in that German city during a time of suspicion, rationing and fear. Maria was an educated Polish Jew in Germany when Hitler came to power and her parents died. Left on her own, she chose not to follow her community to the work camps. Instead, she followed a lead to Berlin where she sheltered in a series of houses of communist sympathizers, always on the move and always hungry. She quickly learned that her educated speech and views were of no use in her situation and could actually expose her to the ever vigilant Gestapo. She was reliant on the kindness of strangers who weren't always very kind and who would take advantage of her situation whenever possible. Blackmail and fear of exposure were constant threats. It is a wonder her nerves held out as long as they did. This is a well-written book and a real page turner for non-fiction.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Koi

    A bit too many pointless stories about people who didn't matter to the story and/or didn't appear again. I had a hard time keeping up with the names. It seemed a bit unreal that someone could remember everything so well, the conversations & everything else was so detailed! The list of people in the back of the book was useful but could have been in a alphabetical order. Still, this book was somehow very raw, in a different kind of way from most stories about Jews in II World War. I can't really A bit too many pointless stories about people who didn't matter to the story and/or didn't appear again. I had a hard time keeping up with the names. It seemed a bit unreal that someone could remember everything so well, the conversations & everything else was so detailed! The list of people in the back of the book was useful but could have been in a alphabetical order. Still, this book was somehow very raw, in a different kind of way from most stories about Jews in II World War. I can't really explain how or why. The people who helped still seemed to be awful, despite their good intentions. And also the amount of people (men) who used her during the war... There were so many. And when it ended, the Soviet liberators who were almost as awful with the robbing & raping. Everything didn't turn rosy the moment the war ended, which you may forget sometimes. Wonder how can you go on living with experiences like this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    supplies the missing link in my picture of life in Berlin streets during the war. told from the perspective of a very observant and articulate someone who lived 'in the cracks', without a right to exist. Her son, a historian, edited the dictated narrative, i wonder how much got lost that way? i would have liked a few more dates and stronger diary-like linearity of the tale, but that is hardly a blight on a the great honesty of an amazing story. supplies the missing link in my picture of life in Berlin streets during the war. told from the perspective of a very observant and articulate someone who lived 'in the cracks', without a right to exist. Her son, a historian, edited the dictated narrative, i wonder how much got lost that way? i would have liked a few more dates and stronger diary-like linearity of the tale, but that is hardly a blight on a the great honesty of an amazing story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dafne Romero

    I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I was really looking forward to reading this book because it sounded very interesting and a different survival story. However, I was very disappointed and barely finished it. I do not know if it is the translation was the problem, but the narration did not flow for me. I did not feel it grabbed me. I found myself not liking her voice, the way she was narrating. Maybe it was her style or as I said something lost in the translation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    A stark tale of survival in all its tedium. Slow going in parts, but Marie's ability to endure boredom and maintain a safe enough distance from those around her makes for a powerful look at identity and passing. Someone said she's unlikable. I found her to be practical and admirably realistic about others' limitations as well as her own. May not make for sparkling prose, but it certainly kept her alive. A stark tale of survival in all its tedium. Slow going in parts, but Marie's ability to endure boredom and maintain a safe enough distance from those around her makes for a powerful look at identity and passing. Someone said she's unlikable. I found her to be practical and admirably realistic about others' limitations as well as her own. May not make for sparkling prose, but it certainly kept her alive.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    While this book was intriguing because it is a true narrative, it lacks emotion. I found Marie's account cold and distant. It is hard to get emotionally connected to her and her story. I know that that is probably why she survived the ordeal, but I wish she would have put more of her feelings in the narrative. As any Holocaust story though, it is heartbreaking and hard to imagine. While this book was intriguing because it is a true narrative, it lacks emotion. I found Marie's account cold and distant. It is hard to get emotionally connected to her and her story. I know that that is probably why she survived the ordeal, but I wish she would have put more of her feelings in the narrative. As any Holocaust story though, it is heartbreaking and hard to imagine.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Suzy

    This book is the memoir of one woman - a Jewish girl in Berlin during world war 2. I found her story fascinating as she hid in plain sight by pretending not to be Jewish. She considered different options to stay safe and was helped by several weird characters. I liked that this offered a different perspective from other memoirs of the period I've read and I liked that the author said how things were and didn't try to view things with modern eyes. She simply told her story. Unfortunately this mat This book is the memoir of one woman - a Jewish girl in Berlin during world war 2. I found her story fascinating as she hid in plain sight by pretending not to be Jewish. She considered different options to stay safe and was helped by several weird characters. I liked that this offered a different perspective from other memoirs of the period I've read and I liked that the author said how things were and didn't try to view things with modern eyes. She simply told her story. Unfortunately this matter of fact delivery kept me at a distance. At no time did I really feel the true peril that she was in or feel involved in the choices she made. It reads like a history book and it jumps around in time a little which didn't help build up any dramatic tension. This woman is amazing for everything she went through and for sharing her story but it felt very flat and I don't feel I truly understand what it was like for her. The narrator was okay and tried to lift the book a little with a few voices but I found that didn't work for me. Overall worth a listen for the valuable historical information but doesn't engage well with the listener. 3.5 stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    This is a true story about Marie Jalowicz Simon, a young Jew living in Berlin when the Nazis started deporting Jews from Berlin. Marie sensed that deportation meant death so when the Gestapo came for her, she left her apartment while a brave friend stalled the Gestapo agent upstairs and Marie used a clever ruse to evade the Gestapo agent downstairs. This began the seven years of Marie living underground in Berlin until the Russians liberated the city. It was almost 50 years later after a succes This is a true story about Marie Jalowicz Simon, a young Jew living in Berlin when the Nazis started deporting Jews from Berlin. Marie sensed that deportation meant death so when the Gestapo came for her, she left her apartment while a brave friend stalled the Gestapo agent upstairs and Marie used a clever ruse to evade the Gestapo agent downstairs. This began the seven years of Marie living underground in Berlin until the Russians liberated the city. It was almost 50 years later after a successful career and life in Berlin that Marie finally told her story while her son tape recorded. In an important addition to the story, her son then researched Marie's story and corroborated her memory with official records from German archives, old newspaper stories and other sources Marie's story is consumed by accounts of her day to day existence, never staying in any one place very long, how to appear inconspicuous on Berlin streets; describing her hunger, food coupons, the friendliness and generosity of some and the stinginess and insensitivity of others. The details sometime became mundane until the story shakes the reader back to reality with an account of a Jew thought to be safe was found and sent away or a near miss with Marie. I noted that many other Good reads reviewer are critical of the narrative, for example, calling it sterile. I could not disagree more. To me, the everyday detail made the book alive and very powerful Marie's story is also very frank. To be underground in Berlin as a Jew meant that were compromises and for Marie, a young attractive woman, that included sexual compromises. It is too Marie's credit that they are not ignored or glossed over but just as important they are not glorified. It led to a dullness so that when Marie is raped by the Russians who liberated her before they confirmed that she was Jew who had been hiding, it comes off as matter of fact given the prior few years of her life> This is an absolutely great book that I totally recommend

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    A moving and enlightening book, although parts of it can be slow reading, perhaps because it was translated from the German, but also because it is sometimes overly detailed. Nevertheless, it is well worth reading to discover what a "U-boat" (i.e., a Jew in hiding during World War II) went through—in this case, a twenty-year old woman in Berlin, Marie Jalowicz. It also makes clear that there were numerous non-Jews who helped feed, shelter, and provide money and documents (some forged) to those i A moving and enlightening book, although parts of it can be slow reading, perhaps because it was translated from the German, but also because it is sometimes overly detailed. Nevertheless, it is well worth reading to discover what a "U-boat" (i.e., a Jew in hiding during World War II) went through—in this case, a twenty-year old woman in Berlin, Marie Jalowicz. It also makes clear that there were numerous non-Jews who helped feed, shelter, and provide money and documents (some forged) to those in hiding—even in Nazi Germany. Marie dictated this account to her son five decades later, and it was then transcribed, with heart-breaking accounts of hunger, forced labor, deportations, and more. Some of the accounts are fascinating, such as Marie's time as a forced laborer at a Siemens plant on an assembly line, conspiring with other Jewish workers and non-Jewish supervisors to sabotage the parts being produced for the German war machine. Also amazing was how she would often walk around Berlin without her Jewish star to shop and get ersatz coffee. She did what she could to survive—sometimes having sex with strangers; going under a friend's name; hiding out in filthy apartments; urinating and defecating in containers that she then had to clean and into which she put food; moving from place to place; even being sold to an elderly man. This is an important, but sometimes difficult-to-read book—partially because of the conditions detailed and partially due to the above-mentioned stylistic factors.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This true story is amazing. Equally amazing is how it came to be told and the manner in which it is told. Marie Jalowicz was a 20-year-old Jewish Berliner when in 1942 she made the extraordinary decision to “go underground”--- to remove her yellow star, take on an assumed identity and try to find a way to survive until the end of the war. All around her friends and family were being rounded up and deported to concentration camps and she was determined to avoid that fate. After the war she became This true story is amazing. Equally amazing is how it came to be told and the manner in which it is told. Marie Jalowicz was a 20-year-old Jewish Berliner when in 1942 she made the extraordinary decision to “go underground”--- to remove her yellow star, take on an assumed identity and try to find a way to survive until the end of the war. All around her friends and family were being rounded up and deported to concentration camps and she was determined to avoid that fate. After the war she became a university professor but did not share the story of her experiences and survival. Shortly before her death in 1998 her son, Hermann Simon, convinced her to tell her story. She started speaking into a tape recorder and dictated, apparently with clarity and extraordinary recollection of times, places, sequence and details. Hermann Simon turned the tapes into this book. The language is in the first person, clear, straightforward, declarative sentences. Simon says he can hear his “mother’s voice in every line of the present work.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike Cook

    A friend handed me this book saying, "Here, I think you might like this." She was correct. I've read a lot of books about the Holocaust and the round up of the Jews, but never anything like this. Marie Jalowicz was the daughter of well-to-do Jewish parents. Most of her family, friends and acquaintances were sent to camps, never to return. She wound up surviving the entire war while living in or near Berlin. She was hidden and exploited by both Jews and non-Jews. It certainly wasn't easy for her. A friend handed me this book saying, "Here, I think you might like this." She was correct. I've read a lot of books about the Holocaust and the round up of the Jews, but never anything like this. Marie Jalowicz was the daughter of well-to-do Jewish parents. Most of her family, friends and acquaintances were sent to camps, never to return. She wound up surviving the entire war while living in or near Berlin. She was hidden and exploited by both Jews and non-Jews. It certainly wasn't easy for her. She was starved, beaten, abused and raped; but her will to survive carried her through all the mistreatment and degradation. Her story is quite remarkable and puts the lie to the claim that no one knew where the trains were going. Both Jews and Aryans knew exactly what it meant to be loaded up in the cattle cars headed east. It was a one way trip with no reasonable hope of survival. She mostly stayed in Berlin where she was familiar with the city, but went back and forth from one haven to another, living with the constant fear of betrayal and death.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Javier

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found Gone to Ground, by Marie Jalowicz Simon, browsing in a popular high street bookstore. Amazing story. Toward the middle of the book I started to change my perception of Marie from being a victim to someone much more in control of the situation by manipulating others around her, but that would be a very silly approach to the story. One easily forget how young she was at the time of going underground. Hiding from Nazi terror in Berlin during the War requires being tough to survive (p. 283): I I found Gone to Ground, by Marie Jalowicz Simon, browsing in a popular high street bookstore. Amazing story. Toward the middle of the book I started to change my perception of Marie from being a victim to someone much more in control of the situation by manipulating others around her, but that would be a very silly approach to the story. One easily forget how young she was at the time of going underground. Hiding from Nazi terror in Berlin during the War requires being tough to survive (p. 283): I had to try very hard to stay humane, because survival means not sinking to the level of your enemies Her son reflects in the afterword about chance, mere luck, as the fundamental explanation for his mother's survival during the War (p. 338): The survival of everyone of those who went on the run from the Nazis rests on a chain of chance incidents that can often be called almost incredible and miraculous. How much do we tend to read into the reasons why things happen or fail to happen to us in our everyday lives?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donia

    It is apparent that something is lost in the translation of this story. The entire drama is not possible in the manner in which it was presented. I have extreme sympathy for persecuted Jews but this story is poorly laid out and requires further editing. It could be that the tone of this story was created by the author after the death of Marie and therefore Marie's behavior did not come across the way it happened in real life. I found Marie unlikable, egotistical and arrogant. It is not humanly p It is apparent that something is lost in the translation of this story. The entire drama is not possible in the manner in which it was presented. I have extreme sympathy for persecuted Jews but this story is poorly laid out and requires further editing. It could be that the tone of this story was created by the author after the death of Marie and therefore Marie's behavior did not come across the way it happened in real life. I found Marie unlikable, egotistical and arrogant. It is not humanly possible to remember in such minute detail each and every thing one did or ate or saw 50 years previously; bits and pieces, yes but not entire chapters. That said, in it's current form, I don't understand how anyone else found anything meritorious about this woman. One really gets no sense of the war going on nor the danger; it is rather a tale of how Marie thought she was better than everyone else.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Niose

    Amazing autobiographical story of survival of a young Jewish woman in Nazi Germany. The author (now deceased) tells the story as an elderly woman, so the narrative has that kind of feel. Lots of anecdotes, lots of detail that would not be included in a more carefully crafted, typical autobiography. She's very frank and candid, not at all shy about revealing her inner thoughts, feelings, and the not-so-pretty details of her life underground. She was an intelligent, savvy individual, as I suppose Amazing autobiographical story of survival of a young Jewish woman in Nazi Germany. The author (now deceased) tells the story as an elderly woman, so the narrative has that kind of feel. Lots of anecdotes, lots of detail that would not be included in a more carefully crafted, typical autobiography. She's very frank and candid, not at all shy about revealing her inner thoughts, feelings, and the not-so-pretty details of her life underground. She was an intelligent, savvy individual, as I suppose you'd expect someone who survives underground for several years in Nazi Germany to be, and she relays one incredible story after another. Some are terribly sad, some are humorous, and even the stories of mundane activities seem somehow interesting. The reader finishes the book with a sense of understanding not only the author's incredible journey, but also what daily life and ordinary people were really like in Nazi Berlin.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gill Shaddick

    It's written as if it is straight from the tapes that form its basis. So with little finesse, but so compelling. Indeed an extraordinary story. The complexities of survival; so much Marie Jalowicz owed to her own quick wits and tenacity, so much to chance. It often sent shivers up my spine reading it. The story also honoured so many non-Jewish Germans who risked everything. Wished I could have had more about her transition to peace-time, it must have been so hard. We are fortunate that this test It's written as if it is straight from the tapes that form its basis. So with little finesse, but so compelling. Indeed an extraordinary story. The complexities of survival; so much Marie Jalowicz owed to her own quick wits and tenacity, so much to chance. It often sent shivers up my spine reading it. The story also honoured so many non-Jewish Germans who risked everything. Wished I could have had more about her transition to peace-time, it must have been so hard. We are fortunate that this testimony was eventually written.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Snoakes

    This is the fascinating story of how a Jewish woman spent WWII underground in Berlin - almost hiding in plain sight. Totally dependent on others, she moves around the city living in fear of being denounced, frequently starving since as a non-person she has no access to ration cards and food. It's a really interesting account of survival against the odds. This is the fascinating story of how a Jewish woman spent WWII underground in Berlin - almost hiding in plain sight. Totally dependent on others, she moves around the city living in fear of being denounced, frequently starving since as a non-person she has no access to ration cards and food. It's a really interesting account of survival against the odds.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allan

    I listened to this in preparation for my trip to Berlin, and was amazed first of all to learn of the fact that so many Jewish citizens survived the war in hiding in Nazi Berlin, but even more so due to the fact that they received help from their German, and indeed in some cases Nazi, neighbours. Well worth reading.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ronen

    Intelligent and honestly told tale. Fascinating picture of life in WWII Berlin, uncovered many shades I was previously unaware of. The author's vitality shows through in her account. Intelligent and honestly told tale. Fascinating picture of life in WWII Berlin, uncovered many shades I was previously unaware of. The author's vitality shows through in her account.

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