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


“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..


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.


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


Histoire vraie mais plusieurs gens n'y croient pas qu'une fillette puisse vivre entourée d'une meute de loups.

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.


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


Although I find the historical backdrop fascinating, truth be told, I read this book because the Boston Globe ran an article on Feb 29th about how the author made the whole thing up. Truly, it was boring, like a really, really bad tale of what it MIGHT have been like. http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articl...


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...


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!


I enjoyed this book but was disappointed it was not a true story.


Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years by Misha Defonseca (1997)

Paul Jr.

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

Myriam St-Denis Lisée

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


I'm not even deigning this with a star! It was a book I could not believe, no matter how hard she tried to convince me. It never rang true and to find that it is a lie proves that I should indeed trust my reading instincts!!Pffft! I grew up on the story of Mowgli!

Dijana Nedeljković

Vrlo zanimljiva knjiga.Lično volim da čitam knjige sa tematikom Jevreja u Drugom svetskom ratu i ova knjiga me je odmah na početku privukla.Neobično gledanje na period od 1939.-1945.,vrlo slično filmu "Život je lep".Deca nemaju osećaj za strah prema životinjama,mraku,svetu uopšte i to je glavnoj junakinji bila pomoć.I potreba za majkom ......Volela bih da mi javite svoje utiske :)*Very interesting book.I like to read books on the topic of Jews in World War II and this book I was right at the beginning.Interesting viewing for the period of 1939 to in 1945., Very similar to the movie "Life is Beautiful." Children do not have a sense of for fear of animals, the dark world in general and the main character was pomoć.I need for mother ......I'd like to let me know what you think :)

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