Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris
If there is one thing that really saddens me, it's that people don't seem to have learned from Hitler's horrific actions. When someone I know cheers that they're rounding up asylum seekers and putting them in horrible internment camps, I'm sad. It gets worse daily.
Cilka's Journey is partially based on facts and is the sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. How much of it is truth vs. fiction is up for debate as some say the real Cilka denied that she prostituted herself and that she never wanted her story told. I opted to treat the story as fiction that's loosely based on some truths.
It tells the story of a young Czech woman who, with her sister, is trying to survive the harsh conditions of the concentration camp she's in. To survive, she's raped often. When a commandant notices her and claims her as her own, she lets it happen. Even if it means being forced to sleep with the enemy as often as he chooses.
When the women in the concentration camp are finally liberated, Cilka's not allowed to leave. She's suspected of working for the enemy, so she's sent to a new camp in Siberia. There, the conditions are even worse, and she will have to rely on strength she doesn't even know she possesses in order to survive the harsh environment, people who hate her, and guards who feel it's their right to treat her anyway they please.
Cilka's Journey broke my heart. In a world of #metoo, Cilka faces things that no woman should ever have to face, yet when she does in order to survive, she becomes just as hated. That poor young girl couldn't win. I hated what was done to her and others in her situation. I had to keep reading to find out what happened in the end.
Yes, this is a sad story, but it's also packed with hope. I hope many read it. It's worth every minute.