Franci's War: A Woman's Story of Survival (Paperback)
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The engrossing memoir of a spirited and glamorous young fashion designer who survived World War ll, with an afterword by her daughter, Helen Epstein.
In the summer of 1942, twenty-two year-old Franci Rabinek--designated a Jew by the Nazi racial laws--arrived at Terezin, a concentration camp and ghetto forty miles north of her home in Prague. It would be the beginning of her three-year journey from Terezin to the Czech family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, to the slave labor camps in Hamburg, and Bergen Belsen. After liberation by the British in April 1945, she finally returned to Prague.
Franci was known in her group as the Prague dress designer who lied to Dr. Mengele at an Auschwitz selection, saying she was an electrician, an occupation that both endangered and saved her life. In this memoir, she offers her intense, candid, and sometimes funny account of those dark years, with the women prisoners in her tight-knit circle of friends.
Franci's War is the powerful testimony of one incredibly strong young woman who endured the horrors of the Holocaust and survived.
About the Author
Franci Rabinek Epstein was born into a privileged family in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1920 and educated at the Ecole Francaise, Lycee de Prague, and the Deutsches Staatsrealgymnasium before dropping out to apprentice in her mother's haute-couture Salon. At 18, Franci became the owner of the Salon. In 1940 she married Joe Solar. She regarded the Nazi concentration camps as her university. After liberation, she returned to Prague and married Kurt Epstein in 1946. In 1948, after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, she emigrated to New York City and established a new fashion salon on the Upper West Side. She lectured at universities on her experience during the war before dying of a brain aneurysm in 1989.
Helen Epstein is a veteran arts journalist and author or translator of ten books of non-fiction including the trilogy Children of the Holocaust, Where She Came From: A Daughter's Search for Her Mother's History; and The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma. Born in Prague, she grew up in New York City. Her reviews and articles have appeared in many newspapers, magazines, and websites.