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Home » Book Review » Into the Forest–A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love

Into the Forest–A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love

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Into the Forest

by Rebecca Frankel

So many books have been written about World War II and, more recently, about the Nazi treatment of Polish Jews. Rebecca Frankel adds Into the Forest to the collection. It is nonfiction that in many parts the reader would wish it to be fiction, that the torture, annihilation, and deprivation should not really have happened. It is the story of the Rabinowitz family, of the many Jews who died, of the love that persisted through two years of living on the move in the cold forests, of digging holes in the ground to hide from Nazis. It is the story of survival, of triumph as the lives of some of the people in the book intersect years and thousands of miles later.

This book was emotionally difficult to read, knowing it is nonfiction, and thus was a slow read for me. The author knew first hand some of the people she wrote about. She spent five years researching and interviewing. There is a huge section of copious notes detailing where her information came from for each chapter.

The Prologue ties the tale together and is worth rereading at the conclusion of the book. There are two chapters that set the stage of what life was like in the little Polish village of Zhetel before the invasion of the Russians, followed by the occupation of the Germans. Then the focus lands on the German-created Jewish Ghetto, the Polish Resistance, and the various “selections” in which laborers and those destined for the mass graves were chosen. The “lucky” escaped to a huge forest, but many died there as hunted animals before the liberation came. The Rabinowitz family had their eyes set on a future in Palestine, but they had many more moves in their future and were caught up in the growing prosperity of the 1950’s. Into the Forest is a challenging book worth reading. It shows Jewish life and customs in the midst of both tribulation and good times. The book thankfully ends on positivity as the author stresses the various types of love woven into the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: History, Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication: September 7, 2021—St. Martin’s Press

Memorable Lines:

The forest, however, would not be exempt from the war’s brutalities or the bare-knuckled survival required to endure it. Nor would it provide ample shield for the Jews or the partisans—Russian and Jewish alike—who had taken shelter here and set up their outposts in its wilds, no matter how dark or deep. The farther they went and the safer they were, the more determined their killers became to root them out.

In some areas, the advertised reward for information on the partisans or hiding Jews was a single cup of sugar. Which was either a reflection of the paltry value of a Jewish life, or the peasants’ depth of desperation.

But Moscow’s successful onslaught had made the retreating Nazis more dangerous and, however unimaginably, even more murderous. Himmler issued an order to those in the path of the fast-moving Soviet troops: destroy all evidence.


  1. This is a wonderful and honest review Linda, such an horrific time, it is so important to remember…

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      Especially when there are countries like Iran who deny there ever was a Holocaust! Same thing has been done and continues to happen right now to the Falen Gong in China.


  2. Gretchen says:

    I am always amazed at what people went through, especially the Jewish people during this time. I like that the book shows the life and customs of the Jewish people – that is always interesting to me. Also glad to hear it ends on a positive note. Nice review Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carla says:

    Of course, non-fiction is so much harder to read than an historical fiction story and that is hard enough. You have written a very thought provoking review. We need these books to keep it from happening again, but those who need to read them, probably never will.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cozynookbks says:

    Wow…this does sound like a challenging read, Linda. Stories of suffering at the hands of torturers is never easy to read about. Sounds like the author did extensive research. Although it’s unlikely that I’d read this right now—I need a bit lighter reads at this time, at least as it relates to non-fiction. Nevertheless, I thoroughly appreciated your excellent review. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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