Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years

ISBN: 0963525778
ISBN 13: 9780963525772
By: Misha Defonseca

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About this book

The compelling story of a young Jewish girl who walks thousands of miles to escape the Holocaust and find her parents-- An inspiring true tale of courage and survivalIn 1940, when Misha was seven years old, her mother and father were taken by the Nazis, and she was hidden in a "safe" home they had secretly arranged for her. Realizing the terrible danger she was in, her kindly foster Grandfather taught her survival skills, such as "Don't trust people; they can hurt you", and "You can do anything you make up your mind to do". When Misha overheard her stepmother planning to turn her over to the Germans, the child took off on foot to search for her parents. Hiding in the forests to avoid human contact, she survived by stealing from farm kitchens along the way and pilfering crops in the fields. Often she was near starvation and many times nearly froze to death. In the course of her travels she was befriended by wolves, and among them she experienced the happiest moments of her troubled childhood. "I never remember being hungry in the company of wolves", she writes.Throughout her trials Misha continued to believe she would find her parents, and so she kept walking, day after day, year after year, across war-ravaged Europe, witnessing firsthand the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. Before the war ended she would be captured by partisans, imprisoned in the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, forced to kill a Nazi soldier in self-defense and swept up by her first love. Although she never found her parents, she was reunited with her foster Grandfather when she returned home five years after her journey began.This astonishing story, full of passion, terror, and triumph, will become a classicin the way that The Diary of Anne Frank is, with the difference that in this tale the heroine survives.

Reader's Thoughts

Kathleen Dixon

My mother read this (she's always on the look-out for Big Print books and this one seemed interesting) and found it fascinating. Nevertheless, she expressed her doubts about its truth a few times. Despite that, she recommeded it to the family and so I got it from the library. Before I read it I decided to check it out, and Wikipedia gave me all the details about the Hoax. Sad.Having 'blown its cover' I wasn't at all sure whether to bother reading it, but as Mum had still really enjoyed it I thought I would. Actually, I skimmed through the whole thing - I didn't find it literarily appealing and it really is just too unbelievable.


“At one lecture, a woman said to me, ‘You’re not a holocaust survivor. You didn’t live in the camps.’ Hers was just one voice among others. It shouldn’t have upset me as it did, but I was annoyed with myself for telling the world a story that wasn’t universally accepted, just because it wasn’t like everyone else’s. I was different, as always… ” Surviving with wolves is indeed unique, a story different from any other one you might have read. It takes place during the war and the reader sees through Jewish eyes. Until then, you will tell me that there is nothing unusual about it, and you are right. What makes this book so extraordinary how its story actually unfolds and how the different events that occur are told.Misha lives in Brussels with her parents and even though they are rather poor, she is happy. But she is Jewish and her life changes forever when her parents are taken away by Nazis. Misha is saved and placed in a Belgian family who will take care of her. As she is only seven, she does not fully understand what is happening. She knows that she must not say that she is Jewish; she knows that the Nazis are dangerous; she knows that her parents are in the East. Nobody explained anything else to her. So one day, she sets off towards the East to find them and starts an unimaginable journey through Europe in war.The story of the journey itself is wonderful. We follow the little girl who knows nothing about war in her adventure. She is innocent but clever and very brave. From the very beginning, we see how she can survive in hostile environment, with people fighting around her and the whole world collapsing. Because of this traumatic period, nobody tries to stop her; it is not usual to see poor and filthy children on their own, and Misha does not trust people. She steals food from the farms or eats from carcasses rather than begging or asking for help. She sleeps in the forest rather that hideing in deserted buildings. This is how, on her long way trough Belgium, Germany, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine, she meets wolves with whom she develops a wonderful relationship.This relationship is incredible at first, but yet as the story goes on we understand it better. The descriptions of the majestic animals are poignant and we clearly see why the little girl trusts them rather than humans: they don’t have guns, they are not deliberately cruel to one another, they have clear rules and they can be trusted… Unlike human beings or at least unlike the human beings Misha has met.The scenes with nature are cleverly mixed with war scenes. As Misha does not trust humans, she does not seek social contact but inevitably she will see some of the horrors of the war. An interesting aspect is that, by travelling, we see how different people react to the war. The reader is given an insight into Polish guerrillas’ fights, Jews’ persecution, German soldiers’ methods, Russian civilians’ hope and prisoner camps…These are described with accurate details of what the little girl felt when she actually lived the scene and mixed with explanations given by Misha years later, when she writes about her adventure. Telling this story with two perspectives was a sensible choice: we understand the little girl experience, her innocence and how traumatic everything was for someone who did not understand at all the gravity of what was happening; at the same time, we have more factual explanation to help us understand how Misha’s personal story is linked to the rest of the events.One of the main controversies that arose with the publication of this book regarded the truth of the story. Even if Misha first presented it as real, it turned out that she had actually made it up: she was not Jewish and she did not travel all the way through Europe, living with wolves, to find her parents. This revelation should however not lessen the beauty of the story. Misha has survived the war and her need to tell a story that differs from the one she actually lived shows how she tries to heal from this traumatic experience.Surviving with wolves is therefore a book that is worth reading, especially for people who like animals and are interested in war stories. However, anybody can find it interesting, as it is extremely varied and well written..


Say you meet me at a party and I tell you that when I was 7 years old, I killed a full-grown military officer, then ran off and was nurtured by a pack of wolves. Would you believe me or begin edging away quietly, keeping the snack table between us at all times?Or say I'm a healthy-looking, articulate young white woman, and I tell you I used to work for the Bloods in L.A. -- a full-time gun-strapped gangbanger. Would you believe me or laugh in my un-bruised, orthodontured face?If you said you would believe these stories, then please stand by -- the process of natural selection will be along for you in a moment. More likely you scoffed at the idea you'd fall for such obvious crap.read more ...http://thetyee.ca/Books/2008/03/10/Li...

Myriam St-Denis Lisée

Et dire que tout cela n'était que mensonge.. avoir sû!

Paul Jr.

Literary fraudhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world...


It's important to remember that the author's parents really were taken away by Nazis when she was a small child and she never saw them again. (They were members of the Belgian Resistance - Catholic, not Jewish - and were probably killed in camps before the end of the war.) Thus her psychological problems are understandable, and she admits to having had therapy. For these reasons I'm not inclined to label the book a 'hoax' as that implies a conscious effort to make money out of lying. The truth is probably more complicated than that. That said, the book really is a hateful piece of shit. It claims Jewish identity as a badge of suffering without demonstrating any religious or cultural understanding. It splits the world into good guys and bad guys, the latter including barely differentiated Nazis, grown-ups, Catholics, etc etc, the former being only beautiful women and animals. Humans are there simply to be stolen from and argued with, regardless of their intentions towards her. It presents ludicrously far-fetched scenes such as a 7-year-old child overcoming and killing an adult soldier, knowing that the public's idea of the Holocaust as an extreme event full of unimaginable horrors will lead them to bypass normal scepticism and discrimination.I'm inclined to blame the others associated with the book - the publisher Jane Daniel and the co/ghost-writer Vera Lee - for this, rather than the author who is clearly unwell. While the author's endless self-pity and misanthropy is unpleasant, it needn't have found expression in a 'Holocaust memoir' bound to give offence to real victims.


For the first half of this book, I was totally caught up in the author's story of surviving the war years in Europe by traveling alone as a small child in search of her parents who had been seized by the Nazis. Traipsing alone from Belgium through Germany, Poland and into Russia, surviving on eating leaves, dirt and carrion, and nurtured by wolves who treated her like a pup, I was entranced. The horrors of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child was fascinating. By the second half of the book, it was wearing thin. Her constant rambling dialogue started to become tedious - though I mostly attributed it to a bad translation, or her mental difficulties brought on by years of silence and solitude as a small child. By the end, I couldn't wait for it to be over. So then I set about to give my GoodReads review, and discover it was all a HOAX! I think this poor lady has serious psychiatric issues, and because of this created this hugely fantastic story about how her life might have been. There was/is a huge lawsuit pending between her, the coauthor and the publisher over the royalties for this book. It's made a bundle though, even been made into a feature film. Goes to show you, all you need is a story and lots of publicity to make a bestseller. Sheesh!


История трогательная, очень ярко написанная, но совершенно неправдоподобная. Героиня выживала, несмотря на холод, голод, войну и отсутствие необходимых для этого вещей.


In dit waargebeurde verhaal worden we door de zevenjarige Misha meegenomen op haar wonderbaarlijke avonturen door de wouden van België, Duitsland, Polen Oekraïne, en verder. Aan het begin van WO II worden haar ouders, die joden zijn, gedeporteerd en zij vlucht weg uit haar pleeggezin met maar één ding voor ogen: haar moeder terugvinden, die “in het oosten” zou zijn. Ze moet overleven op voedsel dat ze steelt uit boerderijen, vlees van karkassen, wormen, planten, bladeren, en grotendeels haar eigen wilskracht. Onderweg sluit ze vriendschap met wolven, komt ze in aanraking met de gruwelijkheden van de oorlog en kan ze uiteindelijk terugkeren naar haar oude thuis, Brussel.Aan het einde van het boek vond ik het jammer dat er zo snel over Misha’s leven werd gegaan eenmaal haar kindertijd achter de rug was. Ik had er gerust meer over willen weten. Ook blijft Misha, die dit boek pas recent schreef, heel oppervlakkig over hoe ze alles wat ze toen heeft meegemaakt, nu ziet. Ze focust zich namelijk de hele tijd op hoe ze het toen meemaakte, wat ze toen voelde en deed. Al is het natuurlijk duidelijk dat ze nooit echt zal aarden in de ‘mensenwereld’ en in haar hart altijd een klein beetje wolf zal blijven.Maar het boek heeft mijn verwachtingen overtroffen omdat mijn verwachtingen nu eenmaal niet erg hoog waren. De schrijfstijl is eenvoudig en recht voor de raap, een literair hoogstandje is ‘t zeker niet, maar het geeft je een totaal ander gezichtspunt op de gruwelijkheden van WO II, wat het toch een aanrader maakt.Update, juli 2012: Dankzij een oplettende Goodreader en door eens verder te willen kijken dan (mijn neus) het boek lang is, ben ik erachter gekomen dat dit boek één groot verzinsel is, ondanks wat wordt beweerd op de kaft en door de schrijfster zelf, die een heel andere naam heeft en in de tijd dat Misha met wolven samenleefde, gewoon op school zat. Tsja, het was waarschijnlijk gewoon heel erg naïef van me om te geloven dat een zevenjarige op blote voeten en zonder hulp heel Europa kan doortrekken, en het overleeft... Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misha:_A...


This was an amazing story, until I found out it was completely fabricated. I think is was sometime in 2008 that it was discovered to be completely false. Real nice. A made-up holocaust story that was advertised as truth.


A few moments ago, after I finished the book, I found out it was made up. I really don't know what to say. I know it impressed me and I was inspired by the little girl's courage. Page by page, I was sure in my heart that this story is true. So I guess that is the reason why I am so disappointed now. Still, it was a very good book, I found it touching and I think that in my mind, I will continue to believe it is true!


This book was really good, I was wondering why it isn't more famous, until about half way through when I found out the author was lying, and it isn't a true story at all! It is definitely presented as an autobiography, so I felt cheated.


The author of this book is a serial liar and fantasist, who made a great deal of money out of her fabrications but is having her butt sued off in court. For recent details, check e.g. this page.


I read this in Dutch a long time ago and I really loved it! It's unbelievable what this girl went through....


Fascinating book, wonderful story, but since it's all made up I only give it 1 star.

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