31 Days of Great Nonfiction: A Jump for Life

A Jump for LifeA Jump for Life: A Survivor’s Journal from Nazi Occupied PolandA Jump for Life: A Survivor's Journal from Nazi Occupied Poland by Ruth Altbeker Cyprys by Ruth Altbeker Cyprys

Most of the Holocaust memoirs I’ve read are written from the perspectives of people who were children or teens during the war. A Jump for Life is rare in that the story is told by a woman who, though young, was married and had a child. The difference in the focus from “what my parents did to help me survive, or what I did on my own to survive” to “how I survived and kept my child alive as well” was compelling.

Often, other survival stories are also written from a more distant perspective, sometimes decades after the events took place. Cyprys wrote her account soon after the war ended, and it gives a different feel to the book.

Her story is so astonishing, and such an amazing testimony to her strength and willingness to do whatever was necessary to survive and save her daughter. Even if you’ve read other Holocaust memoirs, this one is highly worth reading.

Publisher’s Description:
Ruth Altbeker Cyprys was a young Jewish lawyer who, together with her child Eva, survived WWII in the most extraordinary circumstances.
In this journal, written immediately after the War and then hidden away for nearly 50 years, Cyprys tells about the terrifying deportations that began in 1942, about her own incredible escape with her child from a deportation train en route to Treblinka, and about their subsequent struggle to hide, with the help of Christian Poles.

As gripping as a novel, this memoir is not only a record of the horrors of the period but also the tale of a woman of phenomenal courage and tenacity.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction

Looking for similar reads? As part of last year’s 31 Days series, I featured the memoir I Have Lived a Thousand Years, which is a fantastic holocaust memoir, and linked to several other options including The Hiding PlaceThe Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and John and Elizabeth Sherrill, Yellow StarYellow Star by Jennifer Roy (a fictionalized account based on a true story), Leap into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime EuropeLeap into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe by Leo Bretholz with Michael Olesker, and In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust RescuerIn My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

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  1. Thanks so much for this series! I am really enjoying the new titles. Currently reading “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell…not enjoying it as much as “Outliers”

    • What a disappointment – I’ve been looking forward to reading Gladwell’s latest, and was hoping to love it.

  2. Wow, this sounds amazing! I agree with you – stories of parents and children surviving the Holocaust are very rare, so this one sounds really interesting!

    Holocaust sidenote: There was a lady at our church when I was a kid who was a survivor, who helped save a baby (not her own). After the mother died, a group of women banded together to hide the baby IN the concentration camp! (I guess maybe it was too weak to cry much?) It was near the liberation of the camps, so it wasn’t too long, but they managed to hide him for several weeks.

    Anyway, flash forward 45 years, and she has cancer here in AZ, and goes to an oncologist… who turns out to be THAT BABY. I seriously get chills every time I think about that.

  3. This book sounds so amazing. Most of the books that I have read about the Holocaust have been from a child’s POV. It would be interesting to read a book from a different perspective.


  1. […] I’ve already featured one Holocaust memoir where a mother struggles to keep her child alive (A Jump for Life), so I briefly hesitated about featuring this book, as it’s also about a mother’s […]

  2. […] a great one that I want to recommend to anyone and everyone (like I Have Lived a Thousand Years and A Jump for Life). Publisher’s Description: “HANNELORE, YOUR PAPA IS […]

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