The extraordinarily moving memoir by a Holocaust survivor who saved an untold number of lives at Auschwitz through everyday acts of courage and kindness—in the vein of A Bookshop in Berlin and The Nazi Officer’s Wife.
In March 1942, twenty-five-year-old kindergarten teacher Magda Hellinger and nearly a thousand other young women were deported as some of the first Jews to be sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The SS soon discovered that by putting prisoners in day-to-day charge of the accommodation blocks, they could deflect attention away from themselves. Magda was one such prisoner selected for leadership and put in charge of hundreds of women in the notorious Experimental Block 10. She found herself constantly walking a dangerously fine line: saving lives while avoiding suspicion by the SS and risking execution. Through her inner strength and shrewd survival instincts, she was able to rise above the horror and cruelty of the camps and build pivotal relationships with the women under her watch, and even some of Auschwitz’s most notorious Nazi senior officers.
Based on Magda’s personal account and completed by her daughter’s extensive research, this awe-inspiring tale offers us incredible insight into human nature, the power of resilience, and the goodness that can shine through even in the most horrific of conditions.
Magda Hellinger was deported to Auschwitz on the second transport from Slovakia in March 1942, at the age of twenty-five. She was one of the very few to survive over three years in concentration camps. During her time in Auschwitz-Birkenau she held various prisoner functionary positions and had direct dealings with prominent SS personnel, using her unique position to save hundreds of lives.
Maya Lee is the daughter of Magda Hellinger. She is an accomplished businesswoman and fundraiser with several nonprofit organizations. After coauthoring an autobiography of her Holocaust-survivor husband, she encouraged her mother to document her own story. Maya subsequently conducted wide-ranging research to fill out her mother’s story. The Nazis Knew My Name is the result.
David Brewster is a Melbourne-based freelance writer whose work is centered on helping memoirists tell their stories. David’s published works include Scattered Pearls, cowritten with Sohila Zanjani, and Around the Grounds, cowritten with Peter Newlinds.