‘People don’t mind taking some hard punches for the right reasons.’
– Christopher X. Shade
A review of: Cilka’s Journey – By Heather Morris.
Historical Fiction, Romance, Holocaust
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Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris, is the sequel to ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘, which is based on true stories from World War II in Nazi Germany.
The novel follows the journey of Cilka Klein, who is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp when she is just 16 years old. When she arrives, Commandant Schwarzhuber notices her beautiful long hair and separates her from the other prisoners.
Cilka suffers ongoing sexual abuse from two S.S. Officers and is given horrific tasks, which she must do to survive. But these tasks and her perceived position of power create feelings of anger from the other prisoners.
When Auschwitz-Birkenau is finally liberated when Cilka is 18, she is condemned for her role at the Concentration Camp. Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sentenced to 15 years hard labour in a Siberian Prison Camp – Vorkuta.
Imprisoned once again, and guilty only of surviving, Cilka faces challenges both new, and yet also horrendously familiar. She finds herself taken under the wing of the female doctor at the camp, and begins training as a nurse, determined to help others survive.
Cilka’s story is one strength, determination and survival, even in the harshest of circumstances.
Just like ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ saddened me deeply. Her story is one of many million suffering souls, forced to experience the unbearable.
The novel carried over nicely from the first installment, with flashbacks of Cilka’s time in Auschwitz-Birkenau to provide context and perspective. The Author, Heather Morris, did her research (and well) – providing a harrowing experience of what life must have been like for thousands of people post-war.
My only criticism of this book is the same one I had for ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘, which was that the novel sometimes seemed rushed – especially toward the end. It seemed as though the ending was squashed in as an afterthought, becoming a tad predictable.
That being said, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ was still an exceptionally moving, heartbreaking and gut-wrenching account of the atrocities of both during and after World War II.
Whether you have read the first novel or not, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ is worth the read.
‘Better to be strong than pretty and useless.’
– Lilith Saintcrow
blood spills under my tongue
as i bite down on the side of my cheek
trying not to say the words
desperately wanting to spill from my mouth
that fill my lungs
and get caught in my throat on the way up.
my eyes water at the sight of you
and at the thought of you
and the things you put me through
but i don’t let the tears run down my cheeks
i learnt long ago
it does me no good.
and i watch your destructive path
desperate to keep out of harm’s way
while being aware that harm has a way
of finding me, regardless
but i pray
you don’t hurt them like you hurt me.
i only hope what they say is true
that you never hurt them
that they stayed blissfully ignorant
to the evil in their midst
and you stayed away from them
and off of them.
i sweat bullets at night
at the thought of you.
i fly off the handle
because of you.
and no amount of empathy
would make me sorry for you.
i’ve kept silent for the most part
even i’m not sure why.
maybe to save the rest of them,
because i’m sure even the thought of who you are
would weigh heavy on their souls
like it does mine.
i pray every day
they don’t see the real you
and i say every day
they should stay away from you
and i’ve learned to live with the pain
that i was given by you.
and they say love prevails
and i wonder if that’s true.
There are so many things that I want to say, and yet, most of the time, nothing comes from my mouth but a wry smile.
How am I meant to say the things I desperately want to, without revealing how incredibly broken I am?
I watch you all day, think about you, talk to you. And yet the things that I so desperately want to scream, are stuck inside my lungs, weighing me down like cement, instead of air.
I want you to look into my eyes and understand, so I don’t have to say the things I feel. I want you to hold my hand, until I don’t have a reason to let go. I want you to hold me together, because I feel like I’m falling apart.
I know you can see the flicker of what’s haunting me, behind my eyes. I know you can sense the things I don’t say.
Look closer. Believe me when I say I want to tell you. But understand me when I say I can’t.
Because my lungs are filled with cement.
And the more I gasp for air, the harder the cement sets. The heavier I feel. The harder it is to let the words escape.