One of the Last “Ravensbruck Ladies” Passes Away at 93.

Very sad to say Mrs. Stanislaw Osiczko Sledziejowska, one of the last surviving “Ravensbruck Ladies,” passed away today at 93. Part of a group nicknamed “The Rabbits” by the Nazi doctors at the camp, she was one of the youngest Polish political prisoners experimented on at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp as a teen, and was so positive and courageous to the end. Three hours before she died she spoke with a group of teenagers by phone who came to Ravensbruck to commemorate the prisoners. They sang her a beautiful song and she was very happy. A lovely way to spend her final hours.

31 thoughts on “One of the Last “Ravensbruck Ladies” Passes Away at 93.”

  1. I am so glad to have had the chance to learn about the women of Ravensbruck. A you tube video was how I first learned of them and then the book Lilac Girls. Mrs. Sledziejowska, I for one will remember your story, strength and courage. May peace be with your spirit.

  2. I loved the book! Despite the fact that there are a few things that came from Martha’s imagination, at least for me, everything was real. And it was because it made me feel like that and, I believe that is the goal of every writer.
    I cried so many times and I was very glad that the stories (real or not) have a happy ending…I cried of joy for that as well….
    I always think that after a long, or short and deep period of pain and suffering, always there is a reward , if not the world will be so hard to live on…
    Thanks!!!!

  3. I am enjoying Lilac Girls but have to point out an error. On page 131 there is the phrase “smoke swirling out of the chimney like the icing on a Hostess Cupcake.” Hostess did not add the white squiggles until 1950.

    1. Thank you for pointing that out, Kathleen. Wish I’d known! (Just thinking about that icing makes me desperate for a Hostess Cupcake.)

  4. I finished Lilac Girls just a few minutes ago and can honestly say that it is one of the best books that I have ever read. It breaks my heart to learn that one of the last Ravensbruck survivors has passed away, but the courage and perseverance of each of the ladies is remarkable.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed Lilac Girls, Ashley! I agree it’s so sad–but she is such an inspiration.

  5. I just finished the book…what a story! Besides the horror and heroism displayed by the Nazis and the Polish women respectively, I was particularly struck by the life of Caroline Ferriday (and her marvelous mother!), women who could have lived carefree lives of luxury, but chose instead to live lives that mattered! What an inspiration! I can’t wait to visit their home.
    And what an inspiration you are, Ms. Kelly, to have spent 10 years on this wonderful book. Bravo!

  6. Thank you for writing this book, but it was a difficult book for me to read. My mother in law was an inmate at Ravensbruck in 1944 after surviving 5 years in slave labor elsewhere. She was not operated on but was severely beaten twice, once for helping an older woman and once for foraging for scraps of food. At age 17, she had to haul heavy bricks. The last person to exit the barracks for line formation (in winter, in heavy snow) was shot. She barely escaped that fate on at least one occasion.. She was eventually sent to Bergen-Belsen and liberated there in April,1945. She will be 90 years of age in July. These stories need to be told.

    1. Thank you for sharing your mother in law’s story, Karen. What a brave lady! I did not know they shot the last person to exit for line formation. So horrible and sad.

  7. I couldn’t put this book down. The sadness and horrible stories of WWII needs to be told. I have read The Nightingale and The Zookeepers Wife and Sarah’s Keys…all telling the world the pain and triumph of survival during the time when Europe was devastated with the rule of Hitler. My family has a strong Jewish heritage and ancestors that fled Russia during the revolution…and my parents left England with my brother and I in mid 50s….to begin a new life in America. I feel such a saddness in my heart when I read of the horrible things that happened in the holocaust…and then the people that were so diligent to save children and have their voices heard…We will never forget. Thank you for writing this story it has touched my heart

    1. Thank you for reaching out, Cherie and sharing a little of your family history. So interesting! My next book is a prequel to Lilac Girls and takes place during the Russian Revolution so stay tuned!

  8. I heard you speak at Jewish Community Center in Springfield, MA. My hairdresser is Polish and we are wondering when book will be published in Polish? Love, love the book and your presentation. Linda

    1. Hi Linda,
      That was such a fun night in Springfield–you all were a GREAT audience. And the book is available in Polish–Poland was one of the first countries to acquire it. You can find it online in Polish bookshops.
      xx
      Martha

  9. I sit here, holding Lilac Girls, with tears falling down my cheeks. I’ve been in graduate school for the last 2 years, pursuing my degree in counseling, so I haven’t been able to read for pleasure in a while. I’m so glad I chose your novel as my first one! This book is beautiful, raw, and beyond inspiring. It is a book about resilience at it’s very core. I love the conversation between Kasia and the psychologist. I will be passing this book along to clients in the future. I believe it will help others see that “lilacs only bloom after a harsh winter” .

  10. I just finished reading Lilac Girls. It was difficult to get through mainly because of the horrors of the war and what humans do and did to humans and what is going on in the world today. I must say I felt less stress and tension in me as the book continued past the end of the war into healing and forgiveness, and recovery still goes on today worldwide. Thank you for writing such a deep book and I learned so much that I hadn’t learned in school so long ago nor what I knew growing up with a Marine Dad who served in the Pacific front. I am traveling to Poland this summer and will be in Warsaw for a few days and pay my respects there. If I can get to Lublin I will as I am traveling with a group. Will also travel to Lithuania where I have recently learned via Smithsonian and Nova about another holocaust site of the town of Vilna( now Vilnius) and the Ponar Forest where only about 11 survivors made it out via a hand dug tunnel and their descendants have been able to help bring the truth out. I too have been continually pulled to do something that adds value to peoples lives in a different way than when I was in Corporate America until this April. Your book has given me more inspiration to continue to find what that path may be. Thank you so very much for a wonderful book and bringing this history to the forefront.

    1. What a wonderful trip, Carol. Have a great time exploring–sounds like you have been pulled toward being like Caroline–she certainly is inspiring. Fingers crossed you get to see Lublin!

  11. I started reading “Lilac Girls” yesterday and finished today. I simply could not put it down. Somehow cleaning my house did not seem important. This book made me want to read more about it. Now I want to know more about Caroline. What an amazing woman she was. I of course have read many books about WWII and the Holocaust, many too difficult to read because of the horror. But “Lilac Girls” made me appreciate the triumph of the human spirit. Thank you Martha Kelly for this wonderful book. I can’t wait for all my friends to read it. Bernadette Teichmann P.S. My husband’s family was from Austria. I am of French and Irish descent.

  12. My daughter gave me 4 books for Mothers Day. First I read ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE and then your book. I’m sure you’ve heard about the first. Since I was born in 1943 while these sorts of things were going on, it had special significance for me. I really respect you for your wonderful writing and for all the research that went into writing this book .

  13. What a wonderful book. It’s absolutely my favorite read of this nature. Thank you for doing this tremendous research and giving these courageous, wonderful, strong women voice. Their memory will not be forgotten. You must continue writing and I will be waiting.

  14. I’m so pleased to have read this book, such an amazing story I’m hoping that there might be a sequel coming as the book advises.
    Well done Martha it was an amazing well written story, I loved it and I’m still a bit weepy and us Aussies are supposed to be tough

    1. Two prequels to Lilac Girls, actually, Malcolm. One set in WWI and the next set in The Civil War.Glad you felt weepy–the story must have resonated with you! 🙂

  15. Hard to believe this is a first novel. Beautiful writing, “real” people, this will stay with me for a long time. I couldn’t put it down.

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