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999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz

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A PEN America Literary Award Finalist A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee An Amazon Best of the Year Selection The untold story of some of WW2's most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly res A PEN America Literary Award Finalist A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee An Amazon Best of the Year Selection The untold story of some of WW2's most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly resonant true story that everyone should know. On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women, many of them teenagers, boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service and left their parents’ homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Instead, the young women were sent to Auschwitz. Only a few would survive. Now acclaimed author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women’s history. “Intimate and harrowing. . . . This careful, sympathetic history illuminates an incomprehensible human tragedy.” —Publishers Weekly “Against the backdrop of World War II, this respectful narrative presents a compassionate and meticulous remembrance of the young women profiled throughout. Recommended for all collections.” —Library Journal “Staggering . . . profound. [Macadam’s] book also offers insight into the passage of these women into adulthood, and their children, as ‘secondhand survivors.’” —Gail Sheehy, New York Times bestselling author of Passages and Daring: My Passages “Heather Dune Macadam’s 999 reinstates the girls to their rightful place in history.” —Foreword Reviews “An important addition to the annals of the Holocaust, as well as women’s history. Not everyone could handle such material, but Heather Dune Macadam is deeply qualified, insightful, and perceptive.” —Susan Lacy, creator of the American Masters series and filmmaker “The story of these teenage girls is truly extraordinary. Congratulations to Heather Dune Macadam for enabling the rest of us to sit down and just marvel at how on earth they did it.” —Anne Sebba, New York Times bestselling author of Les Parisiennes and That Woman “An important contribution to the literature on women's experiences.” —Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director, Remember the Women Institute


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A PEN America Literary Award Finalist A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee An Amazon Best of the Year Selection The untold story of some of WW2's most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly res A PEN America Literary Award Finalist A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee An Amazon Best of the Year Selection The untold story of some of WW2's most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly resonant true story that everyone should know. On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women, many of them teenagers, boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service and left their parents’ homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Instead, the young women were sent to Auschwitz. Only a few would survive. Now acclaimed author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women’s history. “Intimate and harrowing. . . . This careful, sympathetic history illuminates an incomprehensible human tragedy.” —Publishers Weekly “Against the backdrop of World War II, this respectful narrative presents a compassionate and meticulous remembrance of the young women profiled throughout. Recommended for all collections.” —Library Journal “Staggering . . . profound. [Macadam’s] book also offers insight into the passage of these women into adulthood, and their children, as ‘secondhand survivors.’” —Gail Sheehy, New York Times bestselling author of Passages and Daring: My Passages “Heather Dune Macadam’s 999 reinstates the girls to their rightful place in history.” —Foreword Reviews “An important addition to the annals of the Holocaust, as well as women’s history. Not everyone could handle such material, but Heather Dune Macadam is deeply qualified, insightful, and perceptive.” —Susan Lacy, creator of the American Masters series and filmmaker “The story of these teenage girls is truly extraordinary. Congratulations to Heather Dune Macadam for enabling the rest of us to sit down and just marvel at how on earth they did it.” —Anne Sebba, New York Times bestselling author of Les Parisiennes and That Woman “An important contribution to the literature on women's experiences.” —Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director, Remember the Women Institute

30 review for 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather Macadam

    I have to give it 5 stars. I wrote it!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jane Brewer

    I won this through a Goodreads Giveaway. This is the startling story of the first women to be transported to Auschwitz. I read a lot of Holocaust literature and the story of those who survived (and even those who perished) never ceases to amaze me. Again, the fact that the Nazis went to such great lengths to dehumanize these women is stunning. Why? Just why? I will never understand how these men and women agreed to participate in such awful behavior.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Natalyn Houk

    Emotional. That's the one word I would use to describe "999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz". Heather Dune Macadam paints a very realistic picture of the lives of these women, based on extensive interviews. Books like this are invaluable. One thing Macadam does extremely well is making sure her narration is as accurate as possible. It's extremely evident the time and research that went into writing this book. Repeatedly it is noted which things m Emotional. That's the one word I would use to describe "999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz". Heather Dune Macadam paints a very realistic picture of the lives of these women, based on extensive interviews. Books like this are invaluable. One thing Macadam does extremely well is making sure her narration is as accurate as possible. It's extremely evident the time and research that went into writing this book. Repeatedly it is noted which things might have been true or which things were foggy in the memories of the survivors. This adds a layer of authenticity to the text that draws readers closer to the subject matter and makes it more personal. Books like this can tend to be dense and full of despair. Macadams does good work on keeping the story moving, so no one aspect can be overly dwelt upon, but also nothing is overlooked or made to seem less important. The sheer number of subjects within the text makes the story move quickly from girl to girl and story to story. Also, the book has a relatable feeling. Young women with dreams and futures is something most readers can relate to. Leaning into this feeling carries the story like nature of the narrative. Overall, this book was so good! Macadam takes serious subject matter and presents it in the most interesting way possible: giving names and faces to victims. Macadam makes readers take a moment to truly care and remember and reflect. This book is a must read. Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the ARC of this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Why would anyone want to take away teenage girls?’ I did not know what to expect when I read this book. I was unaware that the first official Jewish transport to Auschwitz contained 999 young Jewish women. And, as distressing as it is to read of yet another example of inhumanity, it is important that the stories of these women are not forgotten. On the 25th of March in 1942, nearly one thousand unmarried Jewish women boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. They believed that they would be working fo ‘Why would anyone want to take away teenage girls?’ I did not know what to expect when I read this book. I was unaware that the first official Jewish transport to Auschwitz contained 999 young Jewish women. And, as distressing as it is to read of yet another example of inhumanity, it is important that the stories of these women are not forgotten. On the 25th of March in 1942, nearly one thousand unmarried Jewish women boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. They believed that they would be working for the government for a few months, in a factory. Instead the young women (many still teenagers) were sent to Auschwitz. Few of them would survive. Their government paid 500 Reichsmarks per person for the Nazis to take them as slave labour. These women were powerless, both because they were Jewish and because they were female. In this book, Heather Dune Macadam reveals some of their stories. To do this, she has drawn on interviews with survivors, witnesses and families and the USC Shoah testimonies. This is a harrowing read. In terms of survival, some work assignments were slightly safer and more comfortable than others. Some women survived, most did not. Illness was almost always a death sentence, as were the whims of the guards. Survival had its own cost for many. There are few survivors now. And many of us, born after World War II, have limited knowledge of what happened. Accounts such as this are important: we need to remember their lives; we need to acknowledge the horror; we need to acknowledge the failings of so many who allowed (by ignoring what was happening) such a tragedy to occur. These women were not fighters or prisoners of war. They were young women who thought they were helping the government. They were young women looking to the future. Their stories are important and should not be forgotten. Thank you, Ms Macadam for writing this book. ‘A novel would end here. It would wrap up with everyone safe and happy and travelling home to be with loved ones. Fiction can do that. Nonfiction cannot. And that is not how wars end.’ Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  5. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I was going to say that this book was amazing. After I typed it, before deleting, I realized that that word didn't even touch what this book is. We pay huge amounts of money to go to theaters and see horror movies. These 999 women, and all that came after, lived it, morning, noon and night for years; If they survived. A miracle achievement compiling this information for us. Thank you Heather Dune Macadam. I firmly believe that these stories, the stories of genocides and slavery should be taught I was going to say that this book was amazing. After I typed it, before deleting, I realized that that word didn't even touch what this book is. We pay huge amounts of money to go to theaters and see horror movies. These 999 women, and all that came after, lived it, morning, noon and night for years; If they survived. A miracle achievement compiling this information for us. Thank you Heather Dune Macadam. I firmly believe that these stories, the stories of genocides and slavery should be taught to all children of all persuasions. If this were the practice, there would be so much less hatred in the world. This was a Goodreads Giveaway. I will re-read this book than once.

  6. 4 out of 5

    S C Worrall

    It's rare that you can say "untold story" about the Holocaust, but this really is one - the story of the first official transport of Jews to Auschwitz, and the 999 young girls and women who were taken on it. Most Holocaust history has tended to be male-centric ( think Primo Levi or Eli Wiesel), so until now the story of these young women had been ignored. Using previously overlooked archives in Slovakia, and the testimonies of survivors and their children, Ms. Macadam, an award winning Holocaust It's rare that you can say "untold story" about the Holocaust, but this really is one - the story of the first official transport of Jews to Auschwitz, and the 999 young girls and women who were taken on it. Most Holocaust history has tended to be male-centric ( think Primo Levi or Eli Wiesel), so until now the story of these young women had been ignored. Using previously overlooked archives in Slovakia, and the testimonies of survivors and their children, Ms. Macadam, an award winning Holocaust biographer, has created a multi-narrative story that reads like a novel, yet never distorts the facts ( unlike novels like The Tatooist of Auschwitz). In the age of Boko Haram and the #MeToo movement, the story of these girls as we follow them from freedom to slavery and oppression is particularly timely. Passionately told, deeply moving and, despite the nature of the material, uplifting, this book is set to become an instant classic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    One of the most eye-opening book I've read about Auschwitz 💔 this is a devastating read, but a necessary one. One of the most eye-opening book I've read about Auschwitz 💔 this is a devastating read, but a necessary one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Absolutely amazing. I'll admit all the names in the beginning made it hard to follow, but once I got a grasp of that, I'm so glad I didn't give it up. What these women were put through is heartbreaking and Heather Dune Macadam did an excellent job of helping us to see it. Absolutely amazing. I'll admit all the names in the beginning made it hard to follow, but once I got a grasp of that, I'm so glad I didn't give it up. What these women were put through is heartbreaking and Heather Dune Macadam did an excellent job of helping us to see it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The story uncovered by Heather Dune Macadam in The Nine Hundred charts an unbelievable, but sadly true account of the first female transport of young Jewish women to Auschwitz. A story of horror, pure survival, heroism and courage, The Nine Hundred is a text carefully rooted in copious research, as well as moving testimonies. The date of March 25th 1942 is an important one, etched on the minds of survivors and loved ones left behind when a convoy of almost 100 https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The story uncovered by Heather Dune Macadam in The Nine Hundred charts an unbelievable, but sadly true account of the first female transport of young Jewish women to Auschwitz. A story of horror, pure survival, heroism and courage, The Nine Hundred is a text carefully rooted in copious research, as well as moving testimonies. The date of March 25th 1942 is an important one, etched on the minds of survivors and loved ones left behind when a convoy of almost 1000 young Jewish women were placed on a train bound for a government shoe factory. In reality, these unmarried young Jewish women in their prime were headed for the extermination epicentre of World War II, Auschwitz. Sadly, these young women were unaware of their horrific destination. Many were proud to be called up for government service and they were happy to say goodbye to their families in favour for doing their bit for the war. Earmarked as slave labour for an evil plan to create and populate a death camp, only a small group of this remarkable set of women would end up walking free from Auschwitz. The author of The Nine Hundred, Heather Dune Macadam, had a big task ahead of her in committing to this book. We discover that both evidence and facts are missing from the history books on this important first transport. Therefore, it is difficult to unveil a complete story from this evidence available. However, what The Nine Hundred reveals is an extraordinary account of a group of women who were persecuted for their gender, age, location, religion and culture. Their stories are incredibly moving, plucked from a host of historical advice, first hand interviews, eye witness accounts and stories of relatives left behind. The Nine Hundred earns a place on the shelves of literature available to those seeking to learn more about the Holocaust experience. The Nine Hundred is a 2020 publication from Hachette Australia. There is also an accompanying feature documentary film based on the experiences relayed in this book. I am keen to get my hands on this when it becomes available. The author of The Nine Hundred, Heather Dune Macadam, has an impressive resume that puts her in a good standing to pen a text based on the first female transport to Auschwitz. Heather Dune Macadam’s debut novel Rena’s Promise outlines a very personal account of the first female transport experience. The author is clearly very passionate about her subject matter and she has worked hard to fight against Holocaust denial. With her active involvement in various foundations, advisory boards, along with her work as both a director and producer on the documentary film on the 999, I think that Heather Dune Macadam is more than qualified to conduct a comprehensive historical account of the first female transport experience to Auschwitz. The Nine Hundred is an essential and pertinent guide to the first female transport to Auschwitz. Told over three parts, with a homecoming, afterword, one final word, list of photographs, illustrations, archives, source notes, bibliography, acknowledgments and an index, this is a very detailed text. The Nine Hundred is preceded by a moving forward by Caroline Moorehead, an author’s note and a list of principal figures on the first transport. Heather Dune Macadam had an insurmountable task ahead of her when she first committed to providing a historical account of this pinnacle first female transport. She acknowledges this in her author notes. I felt the burden, the pressure and the urgency to get these stories out to the general public. It seems inherent that we continue to bring these stories to the floor. In texts such as The Nine Hundred, there is the double hope that the Holocaust will never be forgotten and never repeated again. In The Nine Hundred, we hear the stories of many on this transport and I am sure there were more that have been lost in time. The information at hand is presented in a factual, compelling, personal and sensitive manner. I was shocked, surprised and dismayed yet again to learn of the harrowing and cruel practices of the government and Nazi party. The move to recruit a large portion of young Jewish women from Slovakia for a government shoe factory, when they were actually being sent to the hell zone of Auschwitz was incredibly underhanded. Even the act of making the women send postcards home as a rouse to conceal the real experience they were facing was utterly appalling. This is just a dip in the ocean as to the horrible situations faced by these women who were robbed of everything. To think that any of them managed to overcome their ordeal and survive begs belief, but they did, which gives us hope. Heather Dune Macadam is very conscious of her need to explore the backgrounds of the women on this first transport. She gives the reader a solid understanding of their roots and their feelings in selflessly giving up their lives for national service. Heather Dune Macadam provides a blow by blow account of the process of the travel and transportation arrangements, along with the women’s arrival to Auschwitz. The Auschwitz chapter is revealed in finite detail, with information taken directly from the author’s vast collection of primary and secondary sources. Both vivid and informative, the reader will be moved to tears by these tragic experiences. Finally, a glimpse into the aftermath of Auschwitz is exposed. We learn of the death marches and the rush to exterminate as the allies made their presence known. We also learn of the liberation process and the early days of recovery for the survivors. A focus on justice and resettlement forms the final backbone of the novel, along with a look at the legacy these figures left on history. The Nine Hundred is pertinent, paramount and indispensable. It exposes a dark wing in our past, a history that should not be rewritten, but continued to be aired. *Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    I have read a TON of Holocaust books about survivors and have even read the definitive work of Martin Gilbert, however, this book provided a great light upon a part of the Holocaust that I had not read much about. This book is about the ladies of the first transport to Auschwitz. They were promised to work for 3 months and then sent home. Most did not survive. Some, some of the lucky did survive. This book is about the choices that they had to make, the hard reality of their situation (watching lov I have read a TON of Holocaust books about survivors and have even read the definitive work of Martin Gilbert, however, this book provided a great light upon a part of the Holocaust that I had not read much about. This book is about the ladies of the first transport to Auschwitz. They were promised to work for 3 months and then sent home. Most did not survive. Some, some of the lucky did survive. This book is about the choices that they had to make, the hard reality of their situation (watching loved ones taken to the gas chamber) and then freedom. It was overwhelming, yet I felt that I must bear witness. I learned something new and I am grateful to the author for telling a new side of the Holocaust story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    On March 25, 1942, only two months following the Wannsee Conference, 999 young, unmarried Slovakian women heeded the call of their government and boarded a train. Rather than being sent off to provide three months of government service in a factory, then returning home to their families, they were thrown into the hell on earth known as Auschwitz. These women had numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 tattooed on their forearms - very low numbers, compared to the great many more victims that would follo On March 25, 1942, only two months following the Wannsee Conference, 999 young, unmarried Slovakian women heeded the call of their government and boarded a train. Rather than being sent off to provide three months of government service in a factory, then returning home to their families, they were thrown into the hell on earth known as Auschwitz. These women had numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 tattooed on their forearms - very low numbers, compared to the great many more victims that would follow them, including many of other own family members. They were immediately placed on a starvation diet, forced into slave labor, and dehumanized in every way imaginable (and unimaginable). Living in unbearable conditions, these women started dying. Two-thirds of these women died before the end of December 1942. As 1943 and 1944 unfolded, these young women once filled with great hopes and dreams of the future experienced more death and misery. Their bonds of friendship and desire to support and encourage each other, however, remainder strong - and it is through these bonds that those who survived where able to survive. Those women still alive by mid January 1945 earned the ability to participate in a death March. These remaining few opened the camp, survived three years of camp life, and closed the camp. At the War's end, most did not have a home or living family members waiting for them. As true survivor's, though, they went on living and found ways to create new futures for themselves. Whether these young women on this first official Jewish transport perished in Auschwitz or survived, Heather Dune Macadam wrote this book so that their stories could be told and that they may be remembered. These women, each amazing in her own right, must be remembered!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nissa

    This was a very informative and descriptive book. I felt sorry for all of the pain and suffering that these heroic young Jewish girls had to endure during the Holocaust in WWII Europe. These girls had great strength and courage. I urge everyone to read this book and especially needs to be told to the younger generations although very sad because of what they went through. I would highly recommend this book if you like to read Holocaust literature.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Schmimmerock

    I told myself I would stop reading Holocaust literature for a while after finishing The Child of Auschwitz . I've been fighting a book slump by reading on familiar topics, reading books that I've always enjoyed reading. So, in my hopes to return to what I know in regards to reading, I've been diving into a lot of very easy, fluffy romance novels, and then again into a lot of very difficult, heavy Holocaust fiction and nonfiction. So it's been fun. I decided to read this anyway because even with I told myself I would stop reading Holocaust literature for a while after finishing The Child of Auschwitz . I've been fighting a book slump by reading on familiar topics, reading books that I've always enjoyed reading. So, in my hopes to return to what I know in regards to reading, I've been diving into a lot of very easy, fluffy romance novels, and then again into a lot of very difficult, heavy Holocaust fiction and nonfiction. So it's been fun. I decided to read this anyway because even with how much I've read and studied WWII and the Holocaust, the events leading up to and following, and everything in between, I knew of the 999 in name only. Nearly a thousand unmarried Jewish girls and women boarded a train departing Poprad in March of 1942, feeling spirited, no doubt, as they headed for what they believed to be a few months of work service. This was the first ever transport of Jews to Aushwitz. One thousand women were sold by their own government to Germany as slave labor. They would arrive in Aushwitz on March 26, and while at the time of their arrival it wasn't the Nazi center of mass extermination that it would grow to be by its end in 1945, the women of the first transport would be forced to build that camp. It was not the work they expected when they left the warmth and comforts of their homes, to say the least. Of the 999, only a handful would survive the three years at the camp. Dozens of books, articles, essays, and accounts, and this is the first thing I've read about the first transport, this first deportation. This is such a disservice to these women, to the small but mighty few survivors, to the legacy of the 999 Jewish women who went on that train, most of whom never made it back home. Macadam's book is excruciatingly detailed, thoroughly well-researched, and at its heart, a surprisingly hopeful story of survival. I think that might be why, in spite of the heartbreak they inspire, I keep coming back to Holocaust narratives. There is a thrum of hope in every single one, because while you cannot open one without encountering some of the worst humanity and history have to offer, the other side of it is that we get to hear about the survivors. In every tale of pain, suffering, and loss, there is the relentlessness of the human spirit, there is humanity's sheer will to survive and thrive, even in places created to strip people of their identities, of their humanity, and there is hope. It isn't an easy book to read, but then I don't think anyone considering reading this thinks they are signing up for a lighthearted read. Still, I feel a sense of obligation to these women to hear out their stories. The suffering they experienced is difficult to comprehend, but I feel we owe it to these women to read about them, to remember them as the bright young women they were, who had families and dreams and so much potential. To honor the memory of the 999, the first ones to go. Macadam does the very difficult subject matter justice. She isn't overly sentimental, doesn't embellish, and really it's an amazing feat that she has as much information to offer to us as she does given just how little is actually known of the first transport. As is the run with this sort of book, it was compelling and emotionally charged and a bit of work to finish. More importantly, it was absolutely meticulous in the research. I cannot emphasize enough how impressed I am with the obvious, exhaustive amount of effort that Macadam poured into these pages. If you only read one more book about the Holocaust, only have it in you for one more story about the horrors of Auschwitz, make it this one. Thank you so very muchly to NetGalley, Heather Dune Macadam, and Citadel Press for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    N.L. Brisson

    If you decide to read 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam, read it with a whole box of tissues handy. This is not because, as in fiction, authors know how to engage our emotions; this is a nonfiction book and the tears will be real. Despite all the times authors have written about the Holocaust, this story still has the power to horrify us, to remind us of the heroic efforts it took to survive this unimaginable cruelty and bruta If you decide to read 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam, read it with a whole box of tissues handy. This is not because, as in fiction, authors know how to engage our emotions; this is a nonfiction book and the tears will be real. Despite all the times authors have written about the Holocaust, this story still has the power to horrify us, to remind us of the heroic efforts it took to survive this unimaginable cruelty and brutality, to make us wonder if we would have been a survivor, and to force us to accept that the right set of circumstances could possibly turn any one of us into a monster. Macadam was studying the first transports to Auschwitz in 1942. She learned that a notice went out in Slovakia that spring requiring 999 young teen girls to pack a bag and report for a physical exam. The notice said that they were going to be employed somewhere just outside Slovakia and would return home in 3 months. A few parents tried to hide their daughters because they could not understand why the government was taking girls. But in the end 997 girls were collected and parted from their parents and from all they knew. Macadam made extensive use of the USC Shoah Archive and the official records in Israel to track down the girls who survived this first transport. Although rumor had it that the girls were going to a shoe factory, they actually were taken to occupy the first buildings at Auschwitz. Their small suitcases were confiscated and they were given the uniforms of dead soldiers to wear and some were given black and white striped dresses. On their feet they had homemade clumsy sandals which they called clackers. Some of the survivors could not talk about their experiences, some could not remember the details because their minds had blocked them, but there were survivors who felt it was important to tell people what had happened in those camps. How anyone survived I cannot say. The treatment of these girls was insane and inexplicable, apparently only possible because the Nazi’s were convinced that Jewish people were less than human. But they did what they did under conditions of great secrecy, so clearly they knew well how the world would judge them. After these girls, transport after transport of young Jewish women were delivered to Auschwitz, and they, in fact, cleared the ground for the entire concentration camp by hand, without coats in winter, in those awful homemade sandals, and thousands died. This is the most authentic book I have read so far about Auschwitz and the ‘Final Solution’ given that Macadam spoke with people who had lived there and experienced that nightmare. The slightest small misstep, a bout of illness, an injury could result in death. Eventually the girls with the lowest numbers were given indoor work in Canada, which was the name given to the buildings where confiscated Jewish belongings were sorted. This decision may have been the only reason some of these girls survived. The thing that saved their lives put them right next to the crematoriums which had now been built and operated day and night when transports arrived, eventually leaving people off almost at the entrance to the ovens. The girls could see their relatives and neighbors lined up to be killed. The ashes of other Jews filled the air they breathed. Even the comfort of an indoor job held horror. When I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, I was skeptical of the things the author recounted. I also tended to see Jewish people in the camps who had light duty as possible collaborators. The girls who survived have a lot of guilt about things they did in the camps, but most of them offered a kindness when they could without putting their own life or their own survival in jeopardy. There were girls who were given power as a building supervisor, and some of these girls were dangerous and mean, but the things the girls on this first transport out of Slovakia felt guilty about were unavoidable. Now I believe that Heather Morris was just recounting a story that a survivor told her and that it was most likely as trustworthy as memories of such trauma can be. I read books about the Holocaust because it is the least I can do to honor those who lived through those inhuman camps. But also, so I will always remember that if one deranged human could decide to commit mass murder based on hate or jealousy, or some pathological construct, then it could happen again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    Nearly 1,000 young women traveled from Slovakia to Auschwitz. They believed they were going to work for three months in a shoe factory. The author shows what their lives were like prior to March 1942, which seemed very ordinary. These young women/teenagers went from one day living normal lives filled with friends and family to having their heads shaved in Aushwitz days later. It is alarming how quickly it all happened. Their families had no idea what was happening to their daughters and sisters. T Nearly 1,000 young women traveled from Slovakia to Auschwitz. They believed they were going to work for three months in a shoe factory. The author shows what their lives were like prior to March 1942, which seemed very ordinary. These young women/teenagers went from one day living normal lives filled with friends and family to having their heads shaved in Aushwitz days later. It is alarming how quickly it all happened. Their families had no idea what was happening to their daughters and sisters. The details shared during their three years in Auschwitz were horrifying. Although this was not a surprise, there were things learned that I wasn't previously aware of. Rather than ending this story with liberation, the author goes on to show the challenge of finding a new home, reconnecting with any surviving family members and the mental and physical effects of their confinement.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    The subject matter is incredibly fascinating and it’s a story that clearly needs to be told. It’s clear a lot of research went into the book. However, the author’s writing (or perhaps the editing?) detracts from the women’s stories. Spending a full chapter speculating about Himmler’s numerology and how that may have influenced the dates and times the transports happened feels like a stretch and is also somewhat superfluous to the story of the women. Making connections that don’t really seem to a The subject matter is incredibly fascinating and it’s a story that clearly needs to be told. It’s clear a lot of research went into the book. However, the author’s writing (or perhaps the editing?) detracts from the women’s stories. Spending a full chapter speculating about Himmler’s numerology and how that may have influenced the dates and times the transports happened feels like a stretch and is also somewhat superfluous to the story of the women. Making connections that don’t really seem to apply also happens quite a bit throughout the book (e.g. beginning of ch. 18: “On the Fourth of July - America’s Independence Day - the first selection of Jews was carried out...” What does a holiday celebrated by a different country have to do with the story? Maybe trying to make a point about some having “freedom” and other’s not?). Overall, I recommend the book because of the importance of the subject and to honor those that suffered and survived as well as those who perished. Just be aware the overall story is somewhat disjointed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    S H A R O N

    A fascinating account of the first transport to Auschwitz. I had no idea that teenage girls were among the first to populate the camp. The fortitude of these young women was and is amazing. While I thought the language to be too flowery at times as far as the environmental descriptors (in an attempt to popularize the history as opposed to making it academic, I guess), the account of what these women - children, really - went through was engrossing. The impact of the photos at the end of the book A fascinating account of the first transport to Auschwitz. I had no idea that teenage girls were among the first to populate the camp. The fortitude of these young women was and is amazing. While I thought the language to be too flowery at times as far as the environmental descriptors (in an attempt to popularize the history as opposed to making it academic, I guess), the account of what these women - children, really - went through was engrossing. The impact of the photos at the end of the book was all the more potent -- to see the faces of the women at the end of the account was haunting. What these women went through and experienced needed to be told lest we allow history to repeat itself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Missy

    The tale of nearly 1,000 Jewish women from Slovakia to be shipped to the German death camp at Auschwitz, March 1942. A tale of strength and how these women helped each other survive. The author did a wonderful job of interweaving her interviews with witnesses, survivors, and families in this story. Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aletha Pagett

    It's been several days since I finished this book, received from Goodreads. I remember the impact that Macadam's book, Rena's Promise had on me but 999 was even more powerful The Holocaust was about individuals and this tells a few of their stories. Thank you to both the author and to the amazing survivors for sharing this difficult and horrific part of their lives. It's been several days since I finished this book, received from Goodreads. I remember the impact that Macadam's book, Rena's Promise had on me but 999 was even more powerful The Holocaust was about individuals and this tells a few of their stories. Thank you to both the author and to the amazing survivors for sharing this difficult and horrific part of their lives.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Polly

    3.5 There were a lot typos and errors that were distracting. Also, the author at times forced sentimentality that I found manipulative. The Holocaust and what these women went through was horrific and heartbreaking enough and there was no need to manipulate the reader by some hackneyed ploy to fictionalize what might have happened.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    *Disclaimer: I won this book from a Goodreads first-reads giveaway I will start by saying I have a slight "obsession" with Holocaust -based books. Some may say it is my "favorite" genre. I think it is because every book I read, and I will admit most of them are historical fiction, make me feel a little more sickened with every book I have read. To read a true account from survivors perspective is even more horrific. The fact that there are people today who think the Holocaust was a hoax, complete *Disclaimer: I won this book from a Goodreads first-reads giveaway I will start by saying I have a slight "obsession" with Holocaust -based books. Some may say it is my "favorite" genre. I think it is because every book I read, and I will admit most of them are historical fiction, make me feel a little more sickened with every book I have read. To read a true account from survivors perspective is even more horrific. The fact that there are people today who think the Holocaust was a hoax, completely befuddles me. The sheer horror that 2 men escaped Auschwitz and told authorities what was happening and drew a map of where the crematoriums were and no one did a thing makes me sick to my stomach. We keep hearing the phrase "Never Again" but this is still happening today. There is so much antisemitism even in 2020 that there are not enough adjectives to use about how terrifying and shocking this is. This book about the first 999 women that were taken to Auschwitz from Slovakia is amazingly written. The accounts from the survivors are harrowing. But what is more amazing is how many of these women survived in these unlivable conditions. And they lived to be well into their 90s. It was a hard book to read. It took me nearly 2 weeks to get through and I read a lot. I liked how the author said at the end of the book that this is not a work of fiction therefore there are not happy endings. After liberation, some of these women who had survived this ordeal were raped by Russian soldiers. Their families and homes were gone. They had nothing and yet they rebuilt their lives. Some stayed near their hometowns and many emigrated around the world. The fact that people deny this happened is amazing to me. I would love to know what they think really happened to the millions of Jews and others considered "non-Aryan" that were exterminated. I'll never understand.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ionia

    This book is very compelling, though as always with this type of book, at times it can be emotionally challenging. I've read quite a few books about the Holocaust and the various transports to different concentration camps, but this is the first book I've read solely dedicated to the first transport and dealing mostly with female inmates. It was interesting to see the names of some of the more notorious capos described with more detail and to see the types of jobs the inmates were forced to do. This book is very compelling, though as always with this type of book, at times it can be emotionally challenging. I've read quite a few books about the Holocaust and the various transports to different concentration camps, but this is the first book I've read solely dedicated to the first transport and dealing mostly with female inmates. It was interesting to see the names of some of the more notorious capos described with more detail and to see the types of jobs the inmates were forced to do. Often when I read these histories, I feel like the reader only experiences things from the outside. This book really allows you to look inside the lives of these women and feel as if you are living through the hell they lived through. It is a very well-written, well-researched book that will give you a viewpoint that many other books do not. If you are interested in the history of the Nazi occupations and the concentration/death camps, this would be an important book to add to your collection. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the inside story of these events, from those who lived through it, and those who did not--through the eyes of those who knew them. This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    999 by Heather Dune Macadam is a fabulous book that brings to light the stories of the almost 1,000 women that were taken in the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz on 3/25/42. This compilation of accounts of these precious Jewish women whom were taken against their will to this atrocious destination is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Yet, the reader is left with a sense of courage, hope, friendship, and love that knows no bounds and is not suppressed despite the trials and tribulations 999 by Heather Dune Macadam is a fabulous book that brings to light the stories of the almost 1,000 women that were taken in the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz on 3/25/42. This compilation of accounts of these precious Jewish women whom were taken against their will to this atrocious destination is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Yet, the reader is left with a sense of courage, hope, friendship, and love that knows no bounds and is not suppressed despite the trials and tribulations that these women were unjustly taken into. The author clearly has done her research, as the amount of material, documents, and interviews that were needed to give these women a voice is astounding. As someone whose distant family perished in this horrid place, I read this with emotions that leaked into my very bones and being. This is a stunning remembrance and book that will stay with me forever. 5/5 stars Thank you NetGalley and and Kensington/Citadel Press for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    Such a painful and yet important read. I don't know if I could have read this on my own, but Suzanne Toren does an excellent job relating a very difficult set of stories. I had to pause quite a few times because I couldn't believe the horror that some of these girls went through. Hearing the adult voices recalling the past had me in tears. Even now, 50, 60 years later, the survivors have a hard time thinking about it, let alone talking about it. What some of these girls had to do in order to sur Such a painful and yet important read. I don't know if I could have read this on my own, but Suzanne Toren does an excellent job relating a very difficult set of stories. I had to pause quite a few times because I couldn't believe the horror that some of these girls went through. Hearing the adult voices recalling the past had me in tears. Even now, 50, 60 years later, the survivors have a hard time thinking about it, let alone talking about it. What some of these girls had to do in order to survive; there are no words to describe just how horrible it must have been. I'm even having trouble writing this review, but this was an important book to read and these stories needed to be told. Just be ready to take it in smaller parts.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    By far, the best book on the Shoah, or Holocaust, I have read. Having been to Auschwitz-Birkenau five times, I found this account to make the camps more real, more horrifying, than I could ever imagine. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful account of 999 women, most of whom did not survive, but some who "opened and closed Auschwitz" by being there from the very beginning to the very end. A must-read more than just because it's a powerful book but, more importantly, so we remember their names, their l By far, the best book on the Shoah, or Holocaust, I have read. Having been to Auschwitz-Birkenau five times, I found this account to make the camps more real, more horrifying, than I could ever imagine. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful account of 999 women, most of whom did not survive, but some who "opened and closed Auschwitz" by being there from the very beginning to the very end. A must-read more than just because it's a powerful book but, more importantly, so we remember their names, their lives, and their legacies.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    A hard book to read, but harder even to go through it. The brave young women that survived the horrors are recounted in this book with photos, stories, and more. It is easy to ignore the past horrors, claim we have too much stress to think about it. But we need to remember, recall and recount these stories.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caren

    The strength of this impressive text and its multiple narratives cannot be minimised! Dune Macadam has used "interviews with witnesses, survivors, and families, and USC Shoah Archive testimonies. Memoirs, Holocaust literature and historical documents...to build as complete a picture as [she] can of the {almost 1000} girls and young Slovakian women of the first 'official' Jewish transport to Auschwitz". A testament to the achievement of her goal lies in the reader's immersion into the personal li The strength of this impressive text and its multiple narratives cannot be minimised! Dune Macadam has used "interviews with witnesses, survivors, and families, and USC Shoah Archive testimonies. Memoirs, Holocaust literature and historical documents...to build as complete a picture as [she] can of the {almost 1000} girls and young Slovakian women of the first 'official' Jewish transport to Auschwitz". A testament to the achievement of her goal lies in the reader's immersion into the personal lives of each of the women she includes: their initial innocence in boarding the trains in Slovakia for what they had been duped to think would be an opportunity to work abroad, an adventure; their abject horror in the eventual confrontation with the truth of their incarceration; and the several years of the hell they suffered before liberation. After having heard their voices and lived and died with them in the camp, I knew these women personally, remembered their names and their suffering, their humiliation, their resilience, their despair. The text is a confronting one, with no details spared. Despite the weight of her historical evidence, the narrative is fluid and engaging because the emphasis is always on the women themselves and their responses to the terror and degradation they faced. The details of their experiences are meticulous, so well-crafted into the larger portrait of the Auschwitz horrors with which we are most familiar. As we have just commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, this stunning text helps to assure us that we will "never forget".

  28. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. 999 is the meticulously researched story of the first official Jewish transport to Auschwitz from Slovakia in 1942. Due out 31st Dec 2019 from Kensington Books, it's 417 pages and will be available in hardcover, audiobook, and ebook formats. The writing was riveting and emotionally difficult to read in some places. Especially in light of the trends in modern politics, and the fact that it's all too believable that it could happen again, I felt a Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. 999 is the meticulously researched story of the first official Jewish transport to Auschwitz from Slovakia in 1942. Due out 31st Dec 2019 from Kensington Books, it's 417 pages and will be available in hardcover, audiobook, and ebook formats. The writing was riveting and emotionally difficult to read in some places. Especially in light of the trends in modern politics, and the fact that it's all too believable that it could happen again, I felt an undercurrent of urgency reading this book. It was compelling and the third person narrative put an accessible human face on the history. Most of the books I've read about the Holocaust seem to have been a lot more focused on the male dominated parts of the war, the Holocaust, and the history. This book seemed a lot more personal to me. Really well written, full of annotations and a bibliography for further reading. This would make a superlative resource in an academic setting as well as an important personal read. Four stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam is a Historical account of the Holocaust. The author did exhaustive research and used this research to reproduce conversations, events and scenes in this book to make it more realistic. Before I choose a book to review I like to research the author and any previous books if available. I was pleased to find Ms. Macadam had written a previous book that focused on Auschwitz Rena's Promise: 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam is a Historical account of the Holocaust. The author did exhaustive research and used this research to reproduce conversations, events and scenes in this book to make it more realistic. Before I choose a book to review I like to research the author and any previous books if available. I was pleased to find Ms. Macadam had written a previous book that focused on Auschwitz Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz. I read a sample of it, immediately purchased it and requested her newest book 999 to read and review. Her writing style has understanding, warmth and empathy for the lives of those she portrays. This book is well written with excellent descriptions, extensive details and some photos of the families, homes, religious practices, and Nazi concentration camps. In this book there many heroic actions and I found the brave endurance of the Holocaust victims incredible. Holocaust tories are so important to history, therefore we must hear as many as possible before they are lost forever. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book. 5 Stars

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dru

    I’ve read and saw a lot about Auschwitz but never something like this book. It was incredibly detailed with women’s testimonies of their time in the death camp. The author was able to present their stories in a way that both emphasized their strength and horror they had to endure as a woman in a Nazi concentration camp, whether Jewish or not. I was horrified as I read what they had to go through. I was also very aware that they all had resiliency. Macadam did a wonderful job sharing their storie I’ve read and saw a lot about Auschwitz but never something like this book. It was incredibly detailed with women’s testimonies of their time in the death camp. The author was able to present their stories in a way that both emphasized their strength and horror they had to endure as a woman in a Nazi concentration camp, whether Jewish or not. I was horrified as I read what they had to go through. I was also very aware that they all had resiliency. Macadam did a wonderful job sharing their stories that still saw them as individuals. I’ve already recommended this book to so many people. I think it’s a must read for whoever wants to embrace the goodness in humanity but also needs to understand what people are capable of as well in order to avoid from having it happen again.

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