An Incredible Meeting in Poland

I met Irene Weisberg Zisblatt (above right) in Florida on book tour this spring for Lilac Girls, when I was lucky to have her introduce me at a JCC book event. I admired the little silver pin fixed to the neck of her dress. “It means ‘remember’ in Hebrew,” she said as she took it off and pinned it on me. Right then I knew she’d be a friend for life.

After the event, with not a trace of self pity, she told me about her time as a “guinea-pig” at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, living through terrible experiments performed by Josef Mengele to change the color of her eyes. Irene said she was going on the March of the Living at Auschwitz for Holocaust Remembrance Day and would be in Krakow, Poland in April on her way. She asked if I knew how she could meet one of the Ravensbruck Rabbits, the group of women from my novel who were also subjected to Nazi experiments, but at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for women in Germany.

What a wonderful meeting that would be, I thought. Though Wanda Poltawska (above, left) is Catholic and Irene is Jewish they have so much in common. Both were very young when Nazi doctors operated on them. Both have suffered terrible adversity but have kept so positive. Both are authors.

I wanted share the photo of them meeting, to celebrate them and have included both their books below, great stories from inspiring women. I have included a few pictures of Irene at The March of the Living, too…

26 thoughts on “An Incredible Meeting in Poland”

  1. This is extraordinary. I can’t forget this novel. I’ve shared so much about this novel with others. It’s very sad at times. Until…you realize just how i incredibly strong human beings are. Thanks for posting their books and their beautiful photographs.

    1. This is extraordinary. I can’t forget this novel. I’ve shared so much of this novel with others. It’s very sad at times. Until…you realize just how incredibly strong human beings are. To survive the torture and mentally be able to share it with others today is admirable. Thank you so much for sharing these women’s books and beautiful photographs.

  2. Martha,

    I want you to know that I am an avid reader and was completely engrossed in your book and can not get the characters and story out of my mind. I now have audio version and listen in my car. Thank you for bringing this story and these characters to us. I hope to be able to meet you one day and have you sign my book. God bless you.

  3. WOW! WOW! WOW! I am overwhelmed that this happened. When I asked Irene to introduce your book at your event I knew that it would be meaningful for our community and would link a piece of Ft. Lauderdale to your story. Seeing that it led to this meeting in Poland, that is phenomenal and something I would never have imagined from just a simple ask to Irene. Thank you Martha for writing such an important book and for being the conduit to touching so many lives in this impactful way. I look forward to your next book and hope to see you again at the David Posnack JCC .
    With great admiration,
    Debbie Hochman

  4. Martha, I have read your book not once but twice, the first time I had to keep putting it down when I got to the parts about the concentration camp and what the girls had to go through, however I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I reread again. It is a story that has had such an impact on me so much that I plan to go to the Bellamy-Ferriday house in Connecticut. Thank you for this story I am so glad you wrote it, it opens your eyes to what these women had to live and go through.

    1. I’m so glad Lilac Girls resonated with you so strongly, Cherie. I think you would really love visiting Caroline’s house–especially in May when the lilacs are out. We are also have a Lilac Girls event at the house on June 10th which might be fun for you. ?

  5. Good morning Martha, I just went on to your reply to my note, I don’t understand what you mean by comment is awaiting moderation. Cherie

    1. It means I have to go through each comment and manually approve it…I don’t always have time to read them in a timely way since I get hundreds of emails. Very interesting reading though! 🙂

  6. Thank you I would really have loved that, but we are going away the first couple of weeks. However I hope to be going Caroline’s house the end of this coming week. I hope you have more books coming, and any other events please let me know. Cherie

  7. I just finished the Lilac Girls. It was amazing, especially for your first book! For the last few years I have been interested in books about WWII. Every time I read about the concentration camps, it sickens me how these innocent people were treated. But it also amazes me how strong they were. I thank you for this book and cannot wait for your next one.

    1. Thank you for your lovely note, Sherry. I’m so happy you enjoyed Lilac Girls!

  8. Martha, I was looking for a book recommendation and three people, independent of one another, said Lilac Girls. I delved right into it with great expectations and half way through I flipped to the back cover and saw a familiar face much to my delight. Your photo brought back a flood of wonderful memories of you and your son, Michael, and the days we spent together at TPNS with me as the Director. I still can picture that red headed little guy with the great smile. I just finished your novel and it truly touched my heart and gave me tremendous insights into the
    lives of these enduring and courageous women. Thank you for bringing these harsh years of history to life and allowing us to gather strength from their experiences.

    1. How wonderful to hear from you, Cheryl! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. TPNS was such a great experience–Michael is graduating from college in a few days. Time flies! ?

  9. what wonderful comments and how blessed that this meeting happened. The universe works in wondrous ways to bring us together.

  10. My name is Wojtek Herbst, living in Sopot /Gdańsk. My grandma died 1968. Her name was Józefa / Ziuta / Herbstowa . She was one of a Ravensbrück rabbit. She was taken to Ravensbrück from Lublin in 1941. In the end of the war she was transported to Sweden, Malme. I know the name a woman who made a care her . It was Anna Stina.
    Because my grandma died when I was 12 old I don’t know to much about her story in Ravensbrüch. My father, Jan, died in 1989 didn’t want to talk too much about her story. I just read your book and now I know little more about it.
    Maybe You or one of your friends known my grandma and would tell me more about her.
    Wojtek Herbst

    1. Dear Wojek,
      How interesting, Wojek. I found your grandmother’s name on this website: Sadly, there are only two of the so called rabbits left today. Perhaps you could contact one of them and see what they remember of your grandmother? If you contact the administrator of this site he may be able to help you.
      All the best,

  11. Panie Iwańskie, Janina i Krystyna zostały przewiezione do Ravensbruck tym samym transportem dnia 23 .09. 1941 roku z Lublina,tak jak moja babcia.

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