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By Jafa Wallach
The four adults managed to survive for 22 agonizingly long months in the grave-like space (around five feet long by four and a half feet wide and about four feet high) with the help of Józef Zwonarz, the town’s mechanic. He alone knew of their hiding…. Read More….
6 x 9 soft cover
202 pages with b/w photos
The four adults managed to survive for 22 agonizingly long months in the grave-like space (around five feet long by four and a half feet wide and about four feet high) with the help of Józef Zwonarz, the town’s mechanic. He alone knew of their hiding space and he alone had to secretly supply them with whatever food and water he could manage to sneak to them (mainly old potatoes and very small amounts of water).
Jafa Wallach graphically describes the darkness, the hunger, the insects, and the constant fear of discovery. They had to be especially quiet since the hole they were in was located less than twenty feet from a Gestapo headquarters, the Ukranian Militia and the German police in the small town of Lesko. In addition, Zwonarz and his workers were fixing Nazi vehicles on a daily basis and the Nazis were constantly in and around the building.
Jafa recounts their terror when they realized they had to flee from their crumbling hole to a new hiding place. She then hauntingly describes their new struggles up until the liberation by Russian troops on September 15, 1944.
Bitter Freedom by Jafa Wallach describes the wrenching, firsthand experience of a small group of Jews caught up in the Nazi atrocities as they struggle to survive with the help of an even smaller number of sympathetic Poles.
During World War II, Jafa Wallach, her husband Natan, a physician and Jafa’s two brothers were concealed in a grave-like space, less the five feet across and about four feet high. They lived in that hole less than twenty feet from Gestapo headquarters in a small town in occupied Poland. They were unable to emerge and were entirely dependent in one man, Jozef Zwonarz, who risked his life and the lives of his own loved ones to save theirs.
Bitter Freedom was originally written in 1959, but remained unpublished. Jafa’s daughter Rena Bernstein self published it in 2006.
Jafa Wallach, her husband Natan and the others survived. Jafa, Natan and Rena came to the United States in 1947. Natan studied English and got his license to practice medicine and Jafa again work for him as his nurse. They immigrated to Israel in 1968 and lived there for 28 years. They returned to the United States in 1991.
Jafa lived in Brooklyn NY and died August 19th 2011 at the age of 101. Her daughter Rena is an artist and also lives in Brooklyn with her husband Vlad.
Where to Get:
and is available at:
Baker & Taylor
Follett Library Resources
Follett Educational Services
John Reed Distribution (Australia)
or your favorite wholesaler
Bitter Freedom: Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor is a recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, Eleven-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of Reading Rainbow ; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times Best-Selling Author; and LeAnn Thieman, Motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents, educators, retailers and the media look for the Mom’s Choice Awards seal when selecting quality materials and products for children and families.
“In spite of the many endless hours spent reading personal narratives and memoirs about the tragedy of the Holocaust, no rendition has engaged me to the extent of utter and complete rage toward man’s inhumanity toward man. Jafa Wallach’s Bitter Freedom did so quite effortlessly. Ms. Wallach is due praise and awe for this raw truth about the unspeakable atrocities suffered by her family and countless other innocent people.”
— Janis F. Kearney, personal diarist too President William J. Clinton, author of Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir and Something to Write Home About: Memories of a Presidential Diarist; Publisher, Writing Our World Press
“Bitter Freedom is a fine example of a tautly written account that needs nothing but facts and one woman’s commitment to telling of these facts to make this an exceptional read.“—Dindy Yokel, ForeWord Reviews, April 2012
“This is highly recommended 5 star book.“—Clark Isaacs, Clark’s Eye on Books, 2012
The Holocaust Studies Shelf
Face to face with evil, it can be hard to scourge such events from one’s mind. “Bitter Freedom” is a memoir from Jafa Wallach, as she shares her personal journey as a Polish Jew, how her tormentors were always not so far away and how the experience remains with you all of your life, even when you hang in there for seven decades after the fact. “Bitter Freedom” is a powerful read for memoir collections focusing on the Holocaust.