Jump for Life

Ruth Altbeker Cyprys, Author, Elaine Potter, Editor, Martin Gilbert, Foreword by Continuum $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8264-1036-8
From October 1940, when the Jewish ghetto was promulgated in Warsaw, to the war's end, Cyprys, a lawyer, wife and mother, proved her craftiness, and immediately after the armistice recorded her experiences of how she passed as a gentile. Her book was not discovered, however, until after her death in 1979. It's a curious document, and one questions the believability of certain of her recollections. Could Cyprys, as she maintains here, have hacksawed through the window bars of the rail car transporting her to Treblinka, jumped from the moving train, then located her baby, Eva, whom another Jew flung from the car several miles further on? And did a stranger on a Warsaw tram really slip Cyprys her own marriage license to aid the fugitive in establishing an Aryan identity? When she records the barbarism inflicted on Polish Jews, Cyprys is devastating; when she writes of herself, one wonders if her memories played her false. Her husband was conscripted into the army, and she had the care of their baby; after she escaped from the ghetto, she alternately worked as a governess and in factories in Aryan Warsaw. With her daughter harbored in the countryside, Cyprys herself seems to have been protected by myriad Warsaw residents. We learn in an epilogue that husband and wife were reunited after the war, had another daughter, ultimately settled in London. According to her offspring, Cyprys failed to adjust to routine life, remaining crisis-oriented. How could it have been otherwise? Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-7531-5057-3
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-7531-5086-3
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