Eastern Europe Holocaust: How Dark the Heavens by Sidney Iwens of Lithuania

How Dark the HeavensCover

“How Dark the Heavens”

is a journal of survival,

divided into 1400 days by Sidney Iwens.

Author’s Biography

Reviews

Preface

Read an Excerpt: Wednesday, July 16, 1941 and Thursday, July 17 1941

This material, copyright 1990 by Sidney Iwens, is excerpted from his prize-winning book “How Dark the Heavens”. This material may not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of Sidney Iwens.

You can also order  How Dark the Heavens : 1400 Days in the Grip of Nazi Terror, available from Amazon.com .

Introduction

June 22, 1941 — the first day of Sidney Iwens’s long nightmare. The night before, he had been at a dance, enjoying himself with the other Jewish boys of his small Lithuanian city. Now he stood  watching a dogfight between two distant planes. Tomorrow he would be fleeing for this life — a flight that would last for nearly four terror-filled years.

Lithuania, Latvia, and White Russia, directly in the path of the invading Germans, fell into the murderous clutches of the first SS Einsatzgruppen, the Special Action Groups whose only missions was to kill Jews. In four months, aided by virulent anti-Semitic Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and other native peoples, they shot 250,000 Baltic Jews. And that was just for starters. Sidney himself, herded together with other boys and young men in a city prison, reached the very gates of the killing ground, only to be reprieved temporarily –because the SS had run out of ditches.

Thereafter, his life became a patchwork of hiding, pretending to be a skilled workman (and thus worth the Germans’ while to preserve for a time), fleeing to the partisans, returning to the ghetto, and finally being shipped west to Dachau.

Sidney tells his story in diary form, reconstructed from memory of the diary he actually kept during the Holocaust years. he tells of his bittersweet romance in the shadow of betrayal and death, of the horrendous experiences of his friends and fellow survivors, of having every hand against Jews, even fellow enemies of the Nazis, of the occasional acts of generosity — usually from the most unpredictable source, German soldiers themselves — of his slow starvation and final rescue (like his first) at the gates of death.

This vivid and dramatic story of a Holocaust survivor is in a class by itself– a day-by-day recounting of murder, heroism, stoic endurance, good luck, bad luck, love, intrigue, and humanity.

Eastern European Holocaust: Lithuania

This material, copyright 1990 by Sidney Iwens, is excerpted from his prize-winning book “How Dark the Heavens”. This material may not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of Sidney Iwens.