My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz

My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz

by Livia Bitton-Jackson, Livia Bitton-Jackson

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Overview

After liberation from Auschwitz, fourteen-year-old Elli, her brother, and their mother attempt to rebuild their lives in Czechoslovakia. But it doesn't take long for Elli to realize that even though the war is over, anti-Semitism is not, so she and her family decide to escape to America along with thousands of other Jews. Little do they know what agonies and adventures await them still.
Elli's memoir of her experiences after Auschwitz will captivate readers as they follow her through heartache, frustration, adventure, excitement, love, and ultimately, triumph.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689848988
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 03/28/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 463,461
Product dimensions: 6.98(w) x 10.92(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to Auschwitz. They were liberated in 1945 and came to the United States on a refugee boat in 1951. She received a PhD in Hebrew culture and Jewish history from New York University. Dr. Bitton-Jackson has been a professor of history at City University of New York for thirty-seven years. Her previous books include Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, which received the Christopher Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and the Jewish Heritage Award. Dr. Bitton-Jackson lives in Israel with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

My Bridges of Hope and I Have Lived a Thousand Years
By Livia Bitton-Jackson

About the Books

“An exceptional story, exceptionally well told,” is how Publishers Weekly summed up I Have Lived a Thousand Years, Livia Bitton-Jackson’s memoir of coming of age in Nazi concentration camps. “A gripping story,” School Library Journal added. “A valuable addition to any Holocaust collection.” Winner of a Christopher Award and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, the book was followed by an equally acclaimed memoir of the author’s turbulent postwar years, My Bridges of Hope. Unforgettable first hand accounts of terrible times, these two books are also ringing tributes to the human spirit.

Discussion Topics

1. Why is the title I Have Lived a Thousand Years such an apt description of Elli’s young life?

2. “I don’t know if I am proud to be a Jew,” Elli admits early in I Have Lived a Thousand Years, when she is ordered by the Nazis to wear a six-pointed star on her clothing. “I had never thought about it.” How does her religious identification change and deepen as a result of her later experiences?

3. Discuss Elli’s evolving relationship with her mother. What was it like before the Nazis invaded Hungary? How did it change when they were in concentration camps? How did it change again after the war?

4. How did the Nazis try to strip Elli and her mother of their individuality? Did they succeed? Find examples of the large and small ways that concentration camp victims maintained their humanity.

5. What were Elli’s most cherished ambitions for herself? How did she hold on to her dreams when she was in the concentration camps? Why did she so quickly dismiss Andy’s marriage proposal in Vienna? How did she fulfill her goals in adulthood?

6. In My Bridges of Hope, Elli is considered too young to fight for Israel, but old enough to be appointed a school headmistress. She wonders, “Which required greater responsibility: wielding a book, or a gun? Which is a more effective device, or more lethal weapon: a gun, or education?” What are your answers to her questions?

7. Fleeing Czechoslovakia, Elli abandoned her colleagues in Briha, the underground movement. How did she do it? Why did she? Despite several opportunities to do so, why didn’t her colleagues expose her deceit?

8. In the forward to I Have Lived a Thousand Years, the author writes that she hopes her book will be: “A lesson to help future generations prevent the causes of the twentieth-century catastrophe from being transmitted into the twenty-first.” What lessons have you learned from Elli’s story? How can you put them into action?

Research and Projects

• Learn more about the causes and the consequences of World War II. How did Hitler come to power? Why did he hate Jews so savagely? When and why did America enter the war? What was the “cold war” that followed?

• Study the shifting map of Europe during the twentieth century. Elli’s hometown was part of Hungary during the war but part of Czechoslovakia afterwards. What other countries changed their boundaries? What countries have disappeared since the end of World War II? What new countries have emerged?

• Again and again, Elli and her family were uprooted, forced to pack their most precious belongings into small containers. Allow yourself just one suitcase. Place the objects the matter most to you into it.

• Invite an older member of your community to speak about their life during World War II. A veteran, a refugee from Europe, a working in a war-related industry, or anyone with strong memories of that extraordinary time can offer invaluable insights.

• Each book ends with a chronology of Elli’s experiences. With the help of your grandparents, or another old relative, create a personal chronology of your own family’s history from 1938 to 1951.


This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Customer Reviews

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My Bridges of Hope 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"My Bridges of Hope"  is a captivating story on how a young girl had learned to endure on her own the tragedies life has to offer. Every page has a different account on everything she had to gain on her own by balancing both her studies and her difficult decision to leave her homeland. She goes in to a good amount of detail explaining her experiences having being liberated from the German camps.It’s definitely a great book to read because Jackson adds a little of her own language into her autobiography giving it a better sense of imagery and intensity. Overall it’s an excellent book for both young and older readers and I’m sure many would learn to enjoy it’s realistic feature to it.  
STBA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This sequel to I Have Lived a Thousand Years (1997) takes Elli Friedman from liberation to her arrival in the United States six years later. As a survivor and displaced person, the heroine attempts to form relationships and continue her education, yet feels guilty for wanting a normal life.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Bridges of Hope by Livia Bitton-Jackson was a novel of tragedies and hope. The book was about a teenage girl named Elli, her brother Bubi, and their mother. They were a small family that lived in what they called a 'tatterstall'. This was a communal home of the survival Jews. There were only a few survivors (thirty-six out of five hundred) in their town that came back to live. This family lived in Czechoslovakia. They returned there to live after the war with Hitler. The family had been in a concentration camp for the Jews. They were actually in the worst concentration camp known during this time, Auschwitz. Throughout the story Elli reminisces on her times at Auschwitz and shows the horror she and her family had to endure to survive the war. When the end of the war finally came and they were liberated they thought they could start over in their town of survivors who shared their experiences and within the family of the 'tatterstall'. That was not the case for this family, they soon saw that anti-Semitism was no where near over. Elli was still discriminated everywhere she went. In school, she faced many challenges trying to escape the fate of the German children. The family just wanted a life of peace and happiness. All the Jews wanted a place they could go and not be hated. So, like many of the survivors the family went to America. The only problem was the family faced many challenges on the way there. If Elli hadn't have had such a strong will and desire I don't think the family would have made it past the Iron Curtain to keep the Jews in. The family had to always be on guard and there were no rest times. They were always being chased or threatened by capture. For this family there was never a time to stop. Elli tells about the hardships they faced throughout the war and their journey to America through this novel. The book was fantastic and helps people know what these people did go through in the time of Hitler. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'My Bridges of Hope,' by Livia Britton-Jackson, is an amazing account of a young girl named Ellie Friedmann who survived the concentration camp, Auschwitz, and tried to resume a ¿normal¿ life. Ellie¿s story began just after the U.S. Liberated Auschwitz when she returned to her homeland, Czechoslovakia. Ellie¿s mother and brother both accompanied her on the journey however, Ellie¿s father did not survive. Once back home the harsh Russian control and anti-Semitism persuaded them to head for America in search of freedom, love, and a new life. Along the way the family overcame many struggles including financial hardships, danger, personal loss, and dealing with their past. There were many prevalent messages within the pages of this tale such as love, dealing with loss, and persevering through tough times. Although Ellie grew up during a harsh time she experienced an abundance of love from newly found friendships and her family. Some of the friendships turned into romance, but each relationship ended abruptly when someone left in search of someplace better. While these two themes were important the biggest was never giving up even in exacting times. Ellie never abandoned her hopes or dreams when moments seemed unbearable or arduous. She always pressed on trying to overcome the hardships that she faced teaching that no obstacle is too severe to conquer. Overall I absolutely loved this book. It was nerve-racking, moving, and inspiring. The story line was not the typical depressing holocaust story. It showed triumph and a will to rise above all daunting challenges that Ellie faced. I also enjoyed it because there was never a dull picture that needed an imagination¿s improvement. Vivid imagery was painted onto each and every page. The story was very intriguing since it contained love, action and drama. Each time Ellie found a potential love it drew me in even closer because I wanted to find out if she would ever find true lasting love. This book was one in which you could not put down because the anticipation would eat at you until you started to read again. I only had a few dislikes, but the biggest was that when a new chapter began, sometimes there was not a smooth transition from the previous chapter. Since some new chapters skipped lengths of time after the preceding chapter this got a little confusing, but it was very minor since after a few paragraphs you were back on track. I believe that everyone should read this book at least once in his or her lifetime. I was a little pessimistic when I began reading since sometimes non-fiction is mind numbing, but this book defies all stereo types. It is so inspirational because any obstacle that I face or have faced cannot be compared to what Ellie underwent and it gives me no excuse to give up. It also gives a person a new perspective and more insight into how lucky they truly are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is an emotional book, it tells you about life after the holocaust, which is very unique it makes this book stand out. EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this book cover and thought it looked good so I read the back and that sounded good so I bought the book and I'm glad I did its like the best book ever. It takes place after WW2 and Elli,her mother,and her brother are reunited. They decide to never be seperated again but they do but I won't tell you if its good or bad and what happens. You deffenitly shoud read this book! I haven't read the first book I have Lived A thousand Years but I intend to. Anyways I deffinitly think you should read this book. I'm sure this book is just as good as the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can someone tell me how the sample is?