Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Counterfeit Countess:' The Jewish Woman Who Rescued Thousands of Poles During the Holocaust by Elizabeth B. White and Joanna Silwa -2023-

"The astonishing story of Dr. Josephine Janina Mehlberg—a Jewish mathematician who saved thousands of lives in Nazi-occupied Poland by masquerading as a Polish aristocrat—drawing on Mehlberg’s own unpublished memoir.World War II and the Holocaust have given rise to many stories of resistance and rescue, but The Counterfeit Countess is unique. It tells the remarkable, unknown story of “Countess Janina Suchodolska,” a Jewish woman who rescued more than 10,000 Poles imprisoned by Poland’s Nazi occupiers. Mehlberg operated in Lublin, Poland, headquarters of Aktion Reinhard, the SS operation that murdered 1.7 million Jews in occupied Poland. Using the identity papers of a Polish aristocrat, she worked as a welfare official while also serving in the Polish resistance. With guile, cajolery, and steely persistence, the “Countess” persuaded SS officials to release thousands of Poles from the Majdanek concentration camp. She won permission to deliver food and medicine—even decorated Christmas trees—for thousands more of the camp’s prisoners. At the same time, she personally smuggled supplies and messages to resistance fighters imprisoned at Majdanek, where 63,000 Jews were murdered in gas chambers and shooting pits. Incredibly, she eluded detection, and ultimately survived the war and emigrated to the US. Drawing on the manuscript of Mehlberg’s own unpublished memoir, supplemented with prodigious research, Elizabeth White and Joanna Sliwa, professional historians and Holocaust experts, have uncovered the full story of this remarkable woman. They interweave Mehlberg’s sometimes harrowing personal testimony with broader historical narrative. Like The Light of DaysSchindler’s List, and Irena’s ChildrenThe Counterfeit Countess is an unforgettable account of inspiring courage in the face of unspeakable cruelty." From the publisher 

This is a very valuable addition to Holocaust History, especially as it relates to Poland.  Sometimes in thinking on the Holocaust one loses sight of the many people who Risked or lost their lives to help others.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this period.


Buried In Print said...

What an important story. I'd not thought very much about where/how the resistance participants would have been imprisoned; it's not necessarily the kind of story we hear about as often as we hear about other horrible wartime experiences.

Anonymous said...

What a significant story. Since it's not often the type of story we hear about as frequently as other terrible wartime experiences, I hadn't given much thought to where or how the resistance members would have been imprisoned.


What an important tale. It's rather than the kind of story we hear about as often as we hear about other horrible wartime experiences, so I didn't really give where/how the resistance members would have been imprisoned a second thought.


What a noteworthy tale. I hadn't given much thought to where or how the resistance members would have been imprisoned because it's not the kind of story we read about as regularly as other awful wartime experiences.

Mel u said...

Buried in Print. Within the horrors of the Holocaust there is much courage and goodness to be found. Thanks as always for your comments