The Seamstress

The Seamstress

by Sara Tuval Bernstein

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Overview

"From its opening pages, in which she recounts her own premature birth, triggered by terrifying rumors of an incipient pogrom, Bernstein' s tale is clearly not a typical memoir of the Holocaust. She was born into a large family in rural Romania...and grew up feisty and willing to fight back physically against anti-Semitism from other schoolchildren. She defied her father' s orders to turn down a scholarship that took her to Bucharest, and got herself expelled from that school when she responded to a priest/teacher's vicious diatribe against the Jews by hurling a bottle of ink at him...After a series of incidents that ranged from dramatic escapes to a year in a forced labor detachment, Sara ended up in Ravensbruck, a women' s concentration camp, and managed to survive...she tells this story with style and power." —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101663967
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/1999
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 117,458
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Sara Tuval Bernstein was born in Romania and attended school in Bucharest before being expelled after speaking out against anti-Semitism. She was liberated from the concentration camp Bergau by the Red Cross and then volunteered to teach sewing to fellow displaced women. She is known for her memoir The Seamstress: A Memoir of Survival. 

Table of Contents

Introduction by Edgar M. Bronfman
Maps
Part One
Prologue
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Epilogue
Afterword by Marlene Bernstein Samuels

Index

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"There are many recent accounts of Holocaust victims, but this work stands alone as a testimony to personal strength and an independent spirit." —-Library Journal

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Seamstress 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by a child of survivors. She said it was the first book that really gave her insight into what her mother went through. After reading it I agree wholeheartedly that this book is different than other that I have read. No punches were pulled.Sarah Bernstein survived because of her inner strength. How she did it and what the world around her was like is vividly and chillingly told.
rosies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am so glad Louise Loots Thornton ultimately took on this project. I wish I could hug Seren, Esther, Ellen and Lily. This story will stick with me for a long time.
gbelik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This memoir is a gripping story of a young Romanian Jew in World War 2. She survived through determination and friendship and luck and wrote this memoir in her later years in the United States. It was published after her death by her daughter. It is fascinating very readable.
booksandwine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Holocaust is one of the darkest moments of human history, if not the darkest moment. The Seamstress by Sarah Tuvel Bernstein is poignant coming-of-age memoir showcasing the indomitable human spirit. Sarah Tuvel Bernstein, herein referred to as Seren Tuvel, was a Romanian Jew. Much of Seren¿s story is shaped around her large family; she was one of nine. Her father was a lumber mill manager and was what we could consider lower middle class today. Her formal education ended at elementary school, yet she continued to learn as she became an apprenticed seamstress. Tuvel¿s memoir opens with the story of her birth and closes with an epilogue by her daughter, Marlene Bernstein about Tuvel¿s life in America and her subsequent death.As with many Holocaust survivors, Seren Tuvel did not emerge from the Holocaust without emotional scars to bear. As Romania is an Eastern European country, and Seren¿s family is Jewish, the Tuvel family has had to endure a long history of persecution, from pogroms to accusations of being ¿Christ-killers.¿ Seren, with blonde hair and blue eyes is able to achieve much success through her sewing because many perceived her to be Gentile. Without her Gentile features, she would have been barred entry from the homes of those who were among the upper echelon of society. In 1941 Seren and her father, Abram Tuvel were arrested by the Hungarian Government for being spies, their only true crime was being Jewish and living very near the Romanian-Hungarian border. In the early World War II years, the Romanian-Hungarian border was elastic, which presented a problem for the Tuvels. Seren was eventually released; her father never procured freedom and was ruthlessly shot for losing his mind during an air raid. Upon return, Seren and her remaining family are forced into ghettos. Seren sneaks out and continues to sew for Gentile households. She is then conscripted into a women¿s labor army with friends and family. The army brings Seren to a labor camp Ravensbruick. In Ravensbruick, Seren, her best friends and niece survive by sheer cunning. When liberation forces come too close to Ravensbruick, Seren and her group are brought to Auschwitz. Eventually they were liberated from Auschwitz, Seren stayed in a hospital for a few months because of her poor health. She went to a refugee center, taught a sewing class, and met her husband. The Seamstress, gracefully showcases Seren Tuvel¿s wide spectrum of emotions within its pages. Empathy for Tuvel naturally occurs while reading her story. Perhaps most surprising of all of Seren¿s emotions was her bitterness towards the Polish-Jews within Auschwitz. She describes them as a ruthless, motley group with compassion only for their own. I had a hard time understanding why Seren felt such disdain for the Polish-Jews because with all the persecution and hate she suffered, why continue the cycle of hate. Perhaps the most recurrent emotion throughout The Seamstress was optimism. By retaining hope through the horrors heaped upon her, Seren emerged from the Holocaust physically and mentally intact. Many were not as lucky as Seren, as evidenced by the grief she describes from losing a vast amount of loved ones. By learning about the Holocaust one may feel pity for the victims, but perhaps not empathy. ¿A single death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic .¿ Reading a Holocaust memoir puts a human face on the catastrophe, allowing for someone with no personal connection to the event to feel compassion for those who survived as well as those who did not. As someone who has never experienced anything even close to what Seren endured, it is hard for me to understand the Holocaust. Through Tuvel¿s words I learned of the plight of the Romanian Jew before and even directly after the Holocaust. My eyes were opened to the existence of camps beyond Auschwitz, Bergen-Belson, and Chelmno, and that each of these camps destroyed the lives of millions real people with real lives and real families. It was an
Oregonreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are so many books written by or about the survivors of the Holocaust and all share similar elements. But each one is also unique, describing how an individual manages to survive the unimaginable. In this book, Seren (Sara) Tuvel is a young Roumanian Jewish girl, working as a seamstress in Budapest, who is arrested and taken from her home. She is transported with her sister and niece and the young daughter of a family friend and ultimately end up in Ravensbruck, a concentration camp near Berlin. The four of them band together, led by Seren, and gain strength from each other. The reader can't help but wonder at what traits are needed for survival, not just youth and good health, but being observant and taking advantage of luck. This is a wonderful book , very moving and thought-provoking.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Seren Tuvel's story is one of strength, courage and determination. She was born into a well-to-do, yet rural, Romnian Jewish family. From birth she showed considerable will and determination as she fought back against anti-Semitism from other schoolchildren. At 13 she won a scholarship to a school in Bucharest and defied her father's orders not to go. After hurling a bottle of ink at a priest/teacher's vicious lecture against the Jews, she was expelled. Rather than returning home, she apprenticed with a dressmaker and quickly learned everything she could.As a blond-haired, blue eyed Jew, she was able to pass as a Gentile and quickly moved through the highest reaches of Romanian society as a dressmaker. As the war progressed, tension grew in the city. A slew of anti-Semitic laws and the open persecution of well-to-do Jews lead her to leave Bucharest and return to her family home.Seren's story continues as she and her father were arrested and taken on a forced march to a prison. Once released, she reunited with her mother and sisters. Despite the restrictions against Jews, Seren was able to find work and she strives to support and provide for her family. Captured trying to help her pregnant sister, she spent a year in a forced labor detachment before ending up in Ravensbruck, a woman's concentration camp in Germany. Seren, her sister, and two other friends worked together to survive the brutal conditions.Powerfully written, the reader roots for Seren and her friends as they navigate the treacherous life of World War II Europe. This is one of the best Holocaust survivor books I found and I highly recommend it.
winecat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, by turns charming and horrifying. Written in the first person we hear the life of Seren growing up Jewish in Romania, Hungery and Germany. Any one who doubts the holocaust or wide spread malevolent behavior of the Nazis should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seren's story begins at the beginning of her life as it is a story about life.  It revolves around her family as family sustained her as much as she supported them. The setting of Seren's story is unique in that it occurs in Romania and provides us with more insight of how the war unfolded and impacted the lives of these people. As a non Jewish person, I appreciate the explanations of religious practices and culture.The strength of character shown by Seren was evident before, during, and after the Holocaust . She is truly as unique as her story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This telling of time in the Ravensbruck concentration camp and the brutal conditions in Romania during WW2 for Jews and other minorities, ends on an upbeat note. the history of the area of Hungary and romania was also very interesting. A good read if you don't mind Holocaust stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
joansie More than 1 year ago
"The Seamstress" is one of the best of the Holocaust survivor stories. Sara's iron will, ingenuity, bravery and smarts carried her through. Just as important as her story was learning about the Bulgarians and the help they gave to the Jews during WWII. This was news to me, and apparently to many others I know who have read this book. Sit down to read it when you have plenty of time. It's difficult to put down.
msscarlettt More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible story. I could not help but wonder what Ms Tuval's young life would have been like had she not had the misfortune of coming of age in one of the worst times in 20th century history. As it stands, her courage, bravery and good sense make for a riveting tale of how she survived in the most dangerous of times. A must read for anyone who is interested in the holocaust and or strong female subjects.
kdavi4 More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read. I could not put it down I have let several people borrow it and they all feel the same way, they have recomended it to other people and so on. I already want to read it again and I finished it two months ago. In all honestly I would stand by this book 100%
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was outstanding. I learned things that they never taught us in history class. Im not one who likes to read but this story took me in and wouldnt let me put it down until it was done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so detailed and so real. I just wanted to read it constantly, never stop. I can¿t say how much I like it. If you are a reader who loves to read about the Holocaust or history and likes to feel like you are really a person or character in the book. Well, this is the book to read. I was never interested in history, the Holocaust until my 5th and 6th grade literacy teachers¿ introduced certain books to me. In 5th grade the first book on the Holocaust that I read was Number the Stars. I started to read more and more books on history. Then my 6th grade literacy teacher suggested books for me to read, books that I would enjoy. She said Lily¿s Crossing she had read it and enjoyed it herself. I am so glad that they introduced me or I would never choose this amazing book. I would like more suggestion on books of smiliar subjects.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the very first book I ever read about concentration camp survivors and will recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a very true account of these survivors. This book was so beautifully written I can read it again and again. This book was so moving to me, it inspired me to continue reading about all books on concentration camp survivors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not even finished with this book and I have to recommend it to everyone. This would be a great book for a middle school or high school library. Seren touches your heart. You are there on the train, standing in the cold with frozen feet, stealing carrots and radishes to trade for bread, or standing in line with hundreds of others to use the one toilet. No book I've ever read has made the horrors of the haulocaust as real as this book. We must remember. We must not repeat.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought that this book was great. it really told you how cruel the holocaust was, which many people don't know about. it was alo very interesting, as seren described everhing that happened around her. great book!! i would definately reccomend this book to anyone!!
soph More than 1 year ago
can someone help me to describe some of the key experiences that Sara Tuvel Bernstein remembers living through in her time at the Ravensbrück camp in 100 words. i really need help as i can't afford to buy the book n it's due tomorrow. thanks.