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The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive

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A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to desi A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.  This fashion workshop—called the Upper Tailoring Studio—was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.  Drawing on diverse sources—including interviews with the last surviving seamstress—The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution, but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, historian Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of World War II and the Holocaust.


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A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to desi A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.  This fashion workshop—called the Upper Tailoring Studio—was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.  Drawing on diverse sources—including interviews with the last surviving seamstress—The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution, but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, historian Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of World War II and the Holocaust.

30 review for The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    Lucy Adlington shines a spotlight on a little known group of Auschwitz-Birkenau inmates who sewed in a ‘fashion salon’ established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charge of the death camp. Her exhaustive research includes an interview with Mrs Kohut (98) in San Francisco, the last surviving dressmaker of Auschwitz. The book explains how these 25 women came together through the most terrible circumstances of camp life and their stories personalise something so huge it’s still har Lucy Adlington shines a spotlight on a little known group of Auschwitz-Birkenau inmates who sewed in a ‘fashion salon’ established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charge of the death camp. Her exhaustive research includes an interview with Mrs Kohut (98) in San Francisco, the last surviving dressmaker of Auschwitz. The book explains how these 25 women came together through the most terrible circumstances of camp life and their stories personalise something so huge it’s still hard to get your head around even after all those years. These women were part of ‘Obere Nähstube‘ -Upper Tailoring Studio - under the supervision of Marta Fuchs who uses her ‘privilege ‘ to help other inmates. Their stories demonstrated the close bonds of family and nationality and how you couldn’t kill friendship and loyalty. Under Marta this disparate group became experts with the needle, producing excellent work for the wives of Nazi elite and in the process became an extended family. There are numerous photographs of these woman, some before the war which are especially poignant, breaking your heart as they showed happy times before their worlds imploded. This is an extensively and exhaustively well researched piece of work that is written in a very accessible way. The background on Rudolf and Hedwig Höss from their marriage in 1929 is infused with the lives of the dressmakers giving a chilling insight into rising racial tension and provides a thought provoking and terrifying contrast. The contradictory attitudes of Höss come across strongly too as do Hedwig’s. The author does a great job at giving all involved a sense of their character which is a remarkable achievement. There is interesting background on high fashion and local dressmakers and dressmaking and some good illustrations of fashion of the time. The regime wanted Berlin to become the centre of fashion rather than Paris and image via smart clothing was seen as being extremely important. Yet most clothing and chain stores were Jewish (80%) which were of course destroyed and thus Jewish women such as these planned a mode of survival utilising their skills with the needle. We get a step by step build up via these women of the increasing Nazi yoke, with concentration camps and the Final Solution. Some of the dressmaker women worked in Kanada before transferring to the tailoring studio and this is very chilling with some of the horrifying discoveries they made. Overall, inevitably this is a tough read. I did know that this group of women existed as I’d read a book about Rudolf and Hedwig Höss but no more than that. This is well worth reading to gain further insight into a little known aspect of the ruthless regime and is testament to the power of resistance no matter how small and to human resilience. What an absolutely amazing group of women. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Hodder and Stoughton and the author for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Greer

    Stories about the Holocaust in general, Auschwitz in particular need to be told, re-told and told again, lest we forget. Lucy Adlington’s "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz" is another in this ilk, though told from a slightly different angle. It features the seamstresses who were co-opted for the Nazi war effort, as well as being forced to design and make clothes for the wives of Nazi hierarchy in the camp. No-one needs to be reminded of the horrors of Auschwitz but there are plenty of examples in th Stories about the Holocaust in general, Auschwitz in particular need to be told, re-told and told again, lest we forget. Lucy Adlington’s "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz" is another in this ilk, though told from a slightly different angle. It features the seamstresses who were co-opted for the Nazi war effort, as well as being forced to design and make clothes for the wives of Nazi hierarchy in the camp. No-one needs to be reminded of the horrors of Auschwitz but there are plenty of examples in this book of the extent of the barbarity inflicted on these women by the Nazis. In her pursuit of truth and accuracy, the author has undertaken an incredible amount of research and has conducted in-depth interviews of Holocaust survivors. Ironically, that is the book’s downfall. It is filled to the brim with research material, it is far too long, the scenes at Auschwitz only take up a small percentage of the book and at times, despite the nightmare these women and their fellow inmates suffered, it gets a little tedious. For those interested in the plight of these women, the dressmaking angle or just wanting to read something about Auschwitz told a little differently, "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz" is worth a read. Otherwise, there are many other non-fiction stories that are more engaging, including "Auschwitz Lullaby" by Mario Escobar and "The Choice" by Dr. Edith Eger. "Karolina’s Twins" by Ronald H. Balson is a work of fiction but it is based on actual stories extensively researched by the author.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    Even though I've read extensively on the Holocaust, I'd never heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. These prisoners were drafted by camp commandant Hoss's wife, Hedwig, to sew custom fashions for herself, and her friends and family in the small tailoring studio. Many horrifying details of the camp are included, which are of course very difficult to read, but the perseverance of this small group of seamstresses is amazing. (Sadly, many of the items they sewed were repurposed from clothing confis Even though I've read extensively on the Holocaust, I'd never heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. These prisoners were drafted by camp commandant Hoss's wife, Hedwig, to sew custom fashions for herself, and her friends and family in the small tailoring studio. Many horrifying details of the camp are included, which are of course very difficult to read, but the perseverance of this small group of seamstresses is amazing. (Sadly, many of the items they sewed were repurposed from clothing confiscated from prisoners headed to the Auschwitz gas chambers.) The author was able to meet with the last surviving woman of this group, and related what happened to each one after the camp was liberated. I'm grateful to Edelweiss and the publisher for allowing me to review this advance copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    “We shake hands. At that moment history becomes real life, not just the archives, book stacks, fashion drawings, and fluid fabrics that are my usual historical sources for writing and presenting. I am meeting a woman who has survived a time and place now synonymous with horror.” LUCY ADLINGTON Thank you Lucy Adlington and Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book. It hits shelves on September 14th! The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington is an account of the true story of the wo “We shake hands. At that moment history becomes real life, not just the archives, book stacks, fashion drawings, and fluid fabrics that are my usual historical sources for writing and presenting. I am meeting a woman who has survived a time and place now synonymous with horror.” LUCY ADLINGTON Thank you Lucy Adlington and Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book. It hits shelves on September 14th! The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington is an account of the true story of the women who sewed to survive. Author Lucy Adlington met with Bracha Kohut, one of the 25 women who sewed clothes for top SS wives, including Hedwig Hoss, who was the wife of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss. Auschwitz was transformed from an army barracks to a prisoner-of-war camp in September 1939. It wasn’t long before it became a death camp. 1.3 million people entered Auschwitz and 1.1 million were killed. At the height of the Nazi Occupation, SS wives were supposed to be “ideal ladies.” They needed to be supporters of their husbands but clothing was also a symbol of their status. While Auschwitz was a death camp, but the Nazis used those imprisoned there for labor. Hedwig Hoss started a fashion workshop which was called the Upper Tailoring Studio. The women forced to work in this workshop sewed to stay alive, but also used their positions to help and save as many as they possibly could. “…the Auschwitz dressmaking salon became a refuge, saving seamstresses, and non-sewers alike. Marta’s wider involvement in resistance runs like silvery threads through the murky weave of Auschwitz life.” THE DRESSMAKERS OF AUSCHWITZ Trigger Warnings: torture, abuse, The Holocaust, trauma, antisemitism Lucy Adlington is a costume historian and her research led her to this remarkable group of women. I wrote a lot of papers in college regarding Nazi Germany, mainly the Jewish Resistance Forest camps, so I was intrigued to learn about a part of history that I was not aware of previously. Fashion and clothing were exclusively used to show who belonged where. Once in the camps, their baggage was taken from them but told that it would be protected. They were then stripped and thoroughly investigated and then given rags to wear. This dehumanized them immediately. Their baggage was actually handled with strict authority as the Third Reich plundered all the belongings. When Hedwig Hoss wanted her fashions, the salon started. These women took care of each other. They knew they were given an opportunity and they did what they needed to do to survive but also help those around them. The book does start out slow, but then I could not put it down. I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I read about the liberation and their adjustment to freedom. This place was hell. The people in charge were evil, but so were the people, specifically the wives, who tolerated it. There aren’t words to describe the despicable actions of Hedwig Hoss. She wanted to maintain a certain lifestyle and used those imprisoned to work so she could maintain that lifestyle. While working in the salon saved their lives, Hoss knew what was happening in Auschwitz. In fact, the gas chambers and crematoriums were not far from her home. But here is the thing, Hedwig’s salon didn’t save their lives. She didn’t care about whether they lived or died. The women who worked in the salon saved their own lives. There are portions of this book that will make you sick to your stomach. We have all learned about the Holocaust, but it is always horrifying, no matter how many times you read about it. But these women are inspiring to face such atrocity and torture with so much courage. It was an honor to read about them. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is Nonfiction/WWII. I didn't know this was nonfiction when I picked it up. I was expecting historical fiction. I need to read subtitles. However, with that said, I really enjoyed this one. Not once did I feel like it was putting me to sleep. I've never heard about the dressmakers who spent their days in Auschwitz making dresses/fashion for the officers wives and their children. The author did so much research; it really felt like a labor of love. And the story of these women just reeled me This is Nonfiction/WWII. I didn't know this was nonfiction when I picked it up. I was expecting historical fiction. I need to read subtitles. However, with that said, I really enjoyed this one. Not once did I feel like it was putting me to sleep. I've never heard about the dressmakers who spent their days in Auschwitz making dresses/fashion for the officers wives and their children. The author did so much research; it really felt like a labor of love. And the story of these women just reeled me right in. So 4 stars for this one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandra "Jeanz"

    After having read this author’s other book which is fictional and called The Red Ribbon as soon as I heard about this non-fiction title, I knew I had to read it. I love that the cover of the book, it’s not a typical cover of this era and setting, there is not oppressive image of Auschwitz or its famous gate. The by-line of the book really sums up in a very simplistic sentence why these women survived. I do not really know why I have such a deep-seated pull, and compelling desire to read books abo After having read this author’s other book which is fictional and called The Red Ribbon as soon as I heard about this non-fiction title, I knew I had to read it. I love that the cover of the book, it’s not a typical cover of this era and setting, there is not oppressive image of Auschwitz or its famous gate. The by-line of the book really sums up in a very simplistic sentence why these women survived. I do not really know why I have such a deep-seated pull, and compelling desire to read books about the Holocaust, other than I think what happened to these people who were just like anyone else were suddenly chosen, isolated and put under such horrendous daily torture just because of their religion, really deserve to have their stories read, remembered and passed on to every other generation to follow. A lesson needs to be learnt from these historical facts, memoirs and even the fictionalised stories aet at this time too. I really loved how Lucy introduces Mrs Kohut, a 98 year old woman, who is the last surviving dressmaker from the fashion salon created at Auschwitz concentration camp. I don’t know if was done intentionally or not but by not giving the first name of Mrs Kohut as a reader you end up reading the events that happened not knowing which person is Mrs Kohut. You find out much later into the story. Referring back to the by-line of the book, “The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive” as it was the simple fact, they could sew that saved their lives. Saying that it doesn’t mean these ladies had a much smoother or easier life within Auschwitz. They were still subjected to the same horrific conditions and being under the constant fear of being noticed and punished for some minor infraction on the rules the Nazis made. Or even just beaten and tortured because a Nazis officer felt like it. They were also answerable and in danger from even “one of their own” put in charge of either their work detail or the building they slept in referred to as their Kapo. It seems ironic that the Nazis men and women (as there were female guards at the concentration camps too) wanted to rid the world of the whole Jewish race, made them surrender businesses and all possessions of any value, yet found it acceptable to take a few women who could sew and have them make clothes for them. The Nazis valued clothing highly. The author shares the fact Eva Braun, first Hitlers mistress then later wife, actually had her wedding dress delivered across a burning Berlin just days before their suicides to wear with her designer shoes. Joseph Goebbels wife, Magda is quoted as having said “What a nuisance that Kohnen is closing . . . we all know that when the Jews go, so will the elegance from Berlin. These women, Emmy Goering, Hedwig Hensel-Hoss and Magda Goebbels, knew about the victimisation of the Jewish people yet decided the best way to cope with this knowledge was to turn away from it. Though these women and their men were realising that a lot of industries, including the clothing industry were heavily, reliant on a Jewish workforce. There were a lot of “shops” created within the concentration camps that the Jewish prisoners worked in as well as doing the outside heavier manual laboured jobs too. There was a furrier’s cutting shop at Ravensbruck. The furs were recut and made into items such as jackets and gloves for the soldiers. The women working often split seams and hems whilst altering the items and found jewellery and valuable that had been hidden. Though Hedwig Hensel-Hoss, wife of the man in charge of Auschwitz, Rudolph Hoss is credited as creating a small fashion salon for the wives of the Nazis elite, when reading the details Lucy has researched and listened to from Mrs Kohut it was truly the invention of a sharp, quick witted woman called Marta who had been working as a dressmaker for Hedwig. Marta used her own opportunity to help other less fortunate in the camp. Marta managed to get agreement for another seamstress. When other SS wives saw the garment’s Hedwig was having made, they became envious. Hedwig then went on to expand her attic sewing shop into a select fashion salon. There were many that could sew, in fact figures state that out of ten thousand women there must have been at least five hundred. Marta used her own position to suggest and choose other women she could depend upon to sew. Such as a woman called Irene who was chosen because Irene’s brother Laci had married Marta’s sister Turulka. So, Irene was chosen, then Irene suggested her good friend Bracha. Bracha was chosen and revealed she had a sister who could sew and on and on it went. Lucy reveals there were 25 young girls and women that ended up working in Hedwig’s fashion salon. The author Lucy had already done a lot of research about the dressmakers for her fictional book The Red Ribbon, and had found just an incomplete list of female names, Irene, Renee, Bracha, Katka, Hunya, Mimi, Manci, Marta, Olga, Alida, Marilou, Lulu, Baba and Boriskha. Lucy thought she had found out all she was going to about these women until her book actually released and she began being contacted the families of these women. Suddenly Lucy found herself with a new wealth of information. As Lucy did more research and discovered more details and met Mrs Kohut, she shares all her discoveries with us the reader in this book. It’s hard to describe how I felt reading this book, I found it difficult to read about the way these innocent young girls and women were treat by the Nazis and their sympathisers. At times it really had me questioning if I wanted to read such a truthful, bluntly honest book about the realities of the harsh conditions these women tried to survive within. Then I became angry with myself, in that all the horror these women were put through and I was feeling saddened reading about it. What on earth did those young girls and women feel every day, day in day out, wondering where the next morsel of food was coming from and when the next beating, or the last call to be sent to their death would be. I strongly believe these books need to be written, and read and continue to be remembered, talked about and lessons learnt. If its not the wrong thing to say I honestly ended up “enjoying” discovering more about these women, the real women and their names behind the fictional story Lucy wrote based her book The Red Ribbon on. I could go on and on talking about this book, but it needs to be read by as many people as possible, so I will say I have only scratched the surface of the book in my review. I also know I rattle on and on when I read books set in this era, saying these are the titles that should be on school reading lists, discussed and talked about in schools, but I believe that to be right. These atrocities should never be allowed to occur again. My immediate thoughts on this book were thank goodness there were prisoners such as Marta who thought quickly and managed to make Frau Hoss think it was all her own idea to open a fashion salon, and use free Jewish labour. I love how Marta's quick thinking saved lives. Sure, it was people she knew from her own town etc but you can understand her wanting people who she knew that were reliable after all it was her neck on the line too!!" To sum up, this book is an amazing read, brilliantly written account using extensive research and first-hand accounts from the very last surviving dressmaker of Auschwitz. The book left me feeling like I wanted to reach through the book and hug Mrs Kohut, to thank her for sharing her story. How must she feel being the last one alive, had she already told her family about what she went through and how she managed despite the odds to survive. I am not ashamed to say the book had me in tears, especially when I thought had Lucy not written The Red Ribbon, that the true story of the Dressmakers of Auschwitz may never have been fully told. My final, final words on the book have to be that it really is a very moving, emotional read, told in a sometimes brutally honest, non-romanticised way, that tells the truth of some of the Holocaust horrors inflicted on a group of amazing, determined to survive women.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I'll be honest, going into this book, I thought it was historical fiction - clearly, I didn't look at the full title. Despite this actually being non-fiction, something I rarely read, I breezed through this harrowing story of twenty-five women who sewed for their survival. The author breaks this book into three parts: Before the Nazi occupation. The individual journeys these women took to Auschwitz and how they became part of this sewing workshop. Life after Auschwitz, for those that survived. While I'll be honest, going into this book, I thought it was historical fiction - clearly, I didn't look at the full title. Despite this actually being non-fiction, something I rarely read, I breezed through this harrowing story of twenty-five women who sewed for their survival. The author breaks this book into three parts: Before the Nazi occupation. The individual journeys these women took to Auschwitz and how they became part of this sewing workshop. Life after Auschwitz, for those that survived. While this story lacked some of the emotional content that I crave from fictional stories, it was impossible not to be drawn in by the abuse these women faced, and the steps they took to survive daily. Since my knowledge of the atrocities Jewish people faced during this time, were previously limited to what I learned in school and watched in movies, I was unaware how deep Nazi greed was during that time. It wasn't enough for the Nazis to pillage homes and to steal all of the possessions of those entering the camp. Even though they had a deep hatred of Jews, SS soldiers and their wives also used them for their own betterment, treating them as slaves. This is how this sewing workshop, known the Upper Tailoring Studio was formed by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife. Given the labor options available to those at the camps, this was the least harrowing of tasks. Together, these women bonded and protected each other, working long hours for the chance to wake up another day and start all over. Overall, the author did a great job of not only providing detailed accounts of the individual journeys of these women but put all of the information together in a way that flowed, making it an engrossing read. For more reviews, visit

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Greer- Hansen

    Just when you think there is no information that could no longer surprise you regarding the Holocaust; you regrettably find out you are wrong. This story highlights the brave women who were the dressmakers of the Nazis zoning in under the authority of the brutal Mrs. Hedwig Hoss. The details are horrendous as one would expect. The details are moving. This was a more factual read than, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, but both reads I highly recommend. “Marta made a joke about her camp tattoo number 2 Just when you think there is no information that could no longer surprise you regarding the Holocaust; you regrettably find out you are wrong. This story highlights the brave women who were the dressmakers of the Nazis zoning in under the authority of the brutal Mrs. Hedwig Hoss. The details are horrendous as one would expect. The details are moving. This was a more factual read than, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, but both reads I highly recommend. “Marta made a joke about her camp tattoo number 2043. When her grandchildren asked, “What is that?”, she answered, ‘God’s telephone number.’ “

  9. 5 out of 5

    K Marcu

    Very well researched, providing detailed & personal information about a previously unknown women. Author wrote in a respectful, delicate manner giving tribute to each woman.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carla Johnson-Hicks

    This is the true story of a group of women who survived Auschwitz because of their sewing and tailoring skills. Even though this is non-fiction, it reads like historical fiction. During WWII, where Jewish persons were being exterminated, twenty-five young inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charg This is the true story of a group of women who survived Auschwitz because of their sewing and tailoring skills. Even though this is non-fiction, it reads like historical fiction. During WWII, where Jewish persons were being exterminated, twenty-five young inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charge of the death camp. If a new worker was needed, family or friends of those already working in he Upper Tailoring Studio, were given a job and a chance to live longer. This is an extensively and exhaustively well researched piece of work including interviews with the last surviving seamstress. The story begins with the Nazi Party's rise to power, the implementation of their policies for plunder and exploitation and continuing on with deportations, work details and the murders of so many Jewish and other prisoners. I did not know anything about this group of women and found it very interesting to learn about their trials and their chance to survive the Holocaust. Lucy Adlington wrote and narrated this book. She does a good job reading this book with expression and emotion. I definitely recommend this one to those who want to learn more about some of the survivors of the Nazi's Final Solution. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sean Loughran

    Deeply thought-provoking and profoundly moving, The Dressmakers of Auschwitz was a heavy read, but an important one. Lucy Adlington did a phenomenal job at unveiling another part of history that was unknown to the world before the publishing of this book. This was my first nonfiction book on WWII, and it took my breath away. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction, which is inspired by true events, but I’ve never read anything quite like this before. The book is filled with images from fashion maga Deeply thought-provoking and profoundly moving, The Dressmakers of Auschwitz was a heavy read, but an important one. Lucy Adlington did a phenomenal job at unveiling another part of history that was unknown to the world before the publishing of this book. This was my first nonfiction book on WWII, and it took my breath away. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction, which is inspired by true events, but I’ve never read anything quite like this before. The book is filled with images from fashion magazines and catalogues showing the styles of the times. There’s also a rare selection of photos of the women from the Upper Tailoring Studio, both pre and postwar. It was interesting to read about dressmaker's lives after the war; where they ended up and who they married. Unfortunately, not all of them made it to safety after Auschwitz, but those who did, like Marta, Irene, Hunya, and others, went on to use their sewing skills throughout the rest of their lives. As Adlington would say, needles in, needles out, life went on for these women. However, what's clear is that the tragedies they witnessed at the camp will stay with them forever. All in all, the writing is incredibly strong and the research is thorough in this book. The Dressmakers of Auschwitz is an insightful and powerful book. I highly recommend it. Avocado Diaries

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Wow. Just wow. This book was eye-opening. I never knew a lot of the things they talked about in this book. I have nothing but the utmost respect for these women.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I don't rate books I don't finish. I gave this one up to 43% before calling it. I generally enjoy creative nonfiction, but kept waiting to connect with the women who were seamstresses at Auschwitz. I've read widely about World War II but remain open to reading about groups of people about whom I remain unfamiliar. My sense was that the author was hammering me with the horrors - fair enough to set the stage about the group. Maybe I was misled or misread the summary, but I thought this would be a b I don't rate books I don't finish. I gave this one up to 43% before calling it. I generally enjoy creative nonfiction, but kept waiting to connect with the women who were seamstresses at Auschwitz. I've read widely about World War II but remain open to reading about groups of people about whom I remain unfamiliar. My sense was that the author was hammering me with the horrors - fair enough to set the stage about the group. Maybe I was misled or misread the summary, but I thought this would be a book about the dressmakers at Auschwitz. Maybe I stopped too soon.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A DNF for me. If you are into fashion and design this is the book for you! I understand it is a true story and a "chronicle" of the stories of a number of women, but for me, it read too much like a history text book. That, combined with the fashion and design theme, a theme that does not hold much interest for me, the book just did not grab me. I gave it a little over a 100 pages and just decided it wasn't for me. A DNF for me. If you are into fashion and design this is the book for you! I understand it is a true story and a "chronicle" of the stories of a number of women, but for me, it read too much like a history text book. That, combined with the fashion and design theme, a theme that does not hold much interest for me, the book just did not grab me. I gave it a little over a 100 pages and just decided it wasn't for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan Stuber

    I suppose from time to time one is obliged to read once again about the horrors of the Holocaust. It is not pleasant reading by any means, but we as humans do sometimes have to remember how utterly depraved cultured, well-educated and moral people can become. Adlington has done her research well here. I would say the book is particularly interesting to anyone who is into sewing or fashion. The dressmakers of Ausschwitz (many of whom died or who were murdered in the camps) were of course not the o I suppose from time to time one is obliged to read once again about the horrors of the Holocaust. It is not pleasant reading by any means, but we as humans do sometimes have to remember how utterly depraved cultured, well-educated and moral people can become. Adlington has done her research well here. I would say the book is particularly interesting to anyone who is into sewing or fashion. The dressmakers of Ausschwitz (many of whom died or who were murdered in the camps) were of course not the only inmates who survived because they were useful in some way to the Nazis. But what Adlington does well here, and in great detail, is to show just to what extent the Nazis profited not only from the women’s talents, but also from the apparel they took off of their victims before they were sent to the gas chambers. Another thing I was not really aware of was that one of the Nazis main goals was to confiscate not only all of the Jewish department stores in Germany (which made up about 80% of them), but also to outright steal everything in them to finance the war machine and often for their own personal use. Because Adlington has focused on the lives of a handful of female prisoners makes the entire experience personal. We get to know them before, during and after the thousand days they spent in the camps. It was disturbing to learn that after their release, they were mainly treated with cavalier disdain. When they tried to retrieve their belongings and homes, the people with whom they had intrusted them were reluctant to give them back. This book shows just how resilient humans can be, but also just how mean and cruel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A very disturbing book about the horrible details of Auschwitz. The hardships and cruelty that these people faced really makes you wonder how something like this could happen.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rania T

    Meticulously researched book about a group of women who survived the horrors of Auschwitz thanks to their dressmaking skills. Highly recommended. These stories should never be forgotten.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jill Lucas

    I am grateful to have read this book - it is a thorough history lesson of the dressmakers of Auschwitz - and who ever knew there was such a thing? It is always difficult reading about the Holocaust and concentration camp details - but worth it to continue learning. How the author wove the pre-war history of these particular women into their war experiences is pretty incredible. The seeds of anti-Semitism that were planted years before the Nazis committed their atrocities is eye opening and unsett I am grateful to have read this book - it is a thorough history lesson of the dressmakers of Auschwitz - and who ever knew there was such a thing? It is always difficult reading about the Holocaust and concentration camp details - but worth it to continue learning. How the author wove the pre-war history of these particular women into their war experiences is pretty incredible. The seeds of anti-Semitism that were planted years before the Nazis committed their atrocities is eye opening and unsettling…Fast forward to current day, and Trump blatantly planting seeds of divisiveness for four years +. We really have to work to make sure history does not repeat itself - I understand the parallels of Trump-ism with Hitler that so many people talk about much better after reading this book. Outstanding.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tina Panik

    Read this with the same reverence with which Adlington created it. Then cry, and share this story with everyone you know. This was an ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jess Munnery

    Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an early copy of this book via NetGalley. I want to preface by saying it was extremely unlike me to request this kind of book. I'm not a big reader of non-fiction unless it's my studying. I am not a history fan and especially likely to avoid any subject of the second World War. I moved schools and ended up studying it three separate times, all of which were desperately boring and ended up putting me off the subject of history completely. So t Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an early copy of this book via NetGalley. I want to preface by saying it was extremely unlike me to request this kind of book. I'm not a big reader of non-fiction unless it's my studying. I am not a history fan and especially likely to avoid any subject of the second World War. I moved schools and ended up studying it three separate times, all of which were desperately boring and ended up putting me off the subject of history completely. So the fact that this pulled my attention is, quite frankly, a small miracle! I love how this book came in to being with Adlington's other non-fiction and fiction previous publications. It's certainly plenty of time to research and build the span of knowledge shown on the Upper Tailoring Studio and it's attendants. Adlington doesn't just give us the view of Auschwitz but takes us from the beginning of the Nazi's impact on the fashion industry. How businesses were uprooted and handed over, how the armbands came in to being and how Jews were stripped of all they had before they even reached the concentration camps. There is so much more to the build up towards the concentration camps than I realised. Adlington has done extensive research in to the dressmakers as well and gives us plenty of insight to their lives before the Upper Tailoring Studio. Their families, their plans, their skills. It's truly impressive how much she's found. When we reach Auschwitz it is some time before the Upper Tailoring Studio is formed, the dressmakers arrive at different times for different reasons. They experience horrors and talk of the general life of Auschwitz and the various other horrible work they endured there. I was also shocked to see mentioned that the idea of the gas chambers came from the treatment of lice. I do question this as I tried to look it up later and found very little answers, the only mention of the same method being conspiracies that the Holocaust never happened. Not a great source to have any kind of connection to but a fantastic insight all the same. There are chapters post-Auschwitz, not for all the dressmakers and not all that make it fully through the chapters. It's fascinating to see how their experiences differed after the war. There is a real load of interesting information about a largely unexplored detail of Auschwitz here however. I feel like we really didn't hear very much about working in the Upper Tailoring Studio. It's formed, part of the resistance and then over very quickly. I would have liked to hear more about their working conditions and any further stories it feels like there are. True to the title however this is about the dressmakers and their story rather than the studio itself. I really enjoyed Adlington's writing, informative but still interesting. Well paced within in each chapter and an excellent introduction. This renewed my interest in one day making a trip to Auschwitz, I'm convinced it's an experience we should all have given it's still such recent history. I'll be glad to have the nuggets of information from this book when I do.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caren

    In Lucy Adlington’s introduction to this intriguing story, she affirmed that “this book is [the] history…not a novelisation” of the women who sewed for the Nazis in the Upper Tailoring Studio in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her intimate account of a group of women whose lives were saved because of their dressmaking skills presents a glimpse into an aspect of the Nazi victimisation of women, particularly, that is little known. As a “clothes historian”, Adlington is meticulous in her rec In Lucy Adlington’s introduction to this intriguing story, she affirmed that “this book is [the] history…not a novelisation” of the women who sewed for the Nazis in the Upper Tailoring Studio in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her intimate account of a group of women whose lives were saved because of their dressmaking skills presents a glimpse into an aspect of the Nazi victimisation of women, particularly, that is little known. As a “clothes historian”, Adlington is meticulous in her recounting of the women’s experiences designing, cutting and sewing high fashion garments for the wives of the Nazi officers. Clear in her portrait is the exploitative and cruel behaviour of these wives, who mirrored the abusive attitudes of their Nazi husbands and saw the prisoners as “vermin” and “subhuman”. Most despicable among the wives was Hedwig Hoss, wife of commandant Rudolph Hoss, who established the workshop and, without conscience or humanity, plundered the storehouse of garments collected from the camps’ victims to be refashioned by the creative talents of the prisoners who avoided the gas chambers because of their sewing skills. The group of women included in Adlington’s accounts featured Irene, Bracha and her sister, Katka, Hunya, and Marta, whose strong friendships inspired them to remain resilient and to believe in their ability to survive. The reader cannot help but be disgusted by the greed and hypocrisy portrayed in the profiles of the Nazi wives, particularly, who allowed themselves to enjoy their entitlement to rich food, superb housing and gardens, silks, furs, warm and elegant clothing, while those who created these garments for them were starving, often ill, freezing to death in their inadequate rags, and subject to harsh punishments back in their barracks. I welcomed the author’s focus on the resistance activities of the women as the myth continues to be debunked in recent publications that the Jews went “like sheep to the slaughter”. Adlington presented a unique perspective of the Holocaust with her focus on clothing as a metaphor for so much more. Compelling.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Marie

    “Their words, their stitches, their stories must not be forgotten.” Thank you @harperperennial for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! (publication date: September 14, 2021) I have read many books about World War II and The Holocaust, both nonfiction and historical fiction, but reading this nonfiction text was the first time I’ve heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. I applaud Lucy Adlington for all of the research she did to tell us the story of these resilient women, both who s “Their words, their stitches, their stories must not be forgotten.” Thank you @harperperennial for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! (publication date: September 14, 2021) I have read many books about World War II and The Holocaust, both nonfiction and historical fiction, but reading this nonfiction text was the first time I’ve heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. I applaud Lucy Adlington for all of the research she did to tell us the story of these resilient women, both who survived and who were killed, during the inhumane, unjust, evil genocide. There were 25 women total who made up the group of dressmakers at Auschwitz, and Lucy Adlington focuses on the stories of these women before, during, and after The Holocaust. Bracha Kohút was the only dressmaker still alive when Lucy Adlington was researching, and she uses a lot of Bracha’s experiences and memories throughout the book. This is such an informative, well-researched, and important read about the group of prisoners who were dressmakers in the Auschwitz concentration camp. I definitely recommend this book. Synopsis: Lucy Adlington tells the true story of a group of girls and young women during the Holocaust. Twenty-five prisoners in Auschwitz were selected to be dressmakers for the Nazis and their families- the people holding them captive, the people who killed and would continue to kill their family and friends. Their stories are shared with information from diverse sources, including interviews with the last surviving dressmaker.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tatyana (The Literature Llama)

    This was a well complied story of some very brave and clever woman. I thought when I first read the synopsis that this was historical fiction, I clearly did not read the entire title when I read it online, but being a non-fiction recount of the these events made this book even more captivating. There is so much information and clear research that went into the making of this book and it makes everything all the more interesting and answers any questions you had. There were some parts where I fel This was a well complied story of some very brave and clever woman. I thought when I first read the synopsis that this was historical fiction, I clearly did not read the entire title when I read it online, but being a non-fiction recount of the these events made this book even more captivating. There is so much information and clear research that went into the making of this book and it makes everything all the more interesting and answers any questions you had. There were some parts where I felt I had to go back and remember the origins of each woman mentioned that slightly confused me, but overall this is a harrowing tale that truly brings to light the horrors that these women faced and endured. Really great for anyone!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Kristens.reading.nook

    Most of us know that those who had jobs in Auschwitz had a bit of an easier time surviving the hell they were living through. They had some benefits that others were not afforded. As the name describes, this book tells the story of some of the women who were seamstresses in the labor camp. It was fascinating learning about the fashion of the time, from the Jewish people to the Nazis. This book is so well researched and includes pictures and letters from the time. I highly recommend the paper ver Most of us know that those who had jobs in Auschwitz had a bit of an easier time surviving the hell they were living through. They had some benefits that others were not afforded. As the name describes, this book tells the story of some of the women who were seamstresses in the labor camp. It was fascinating learning about the fashion of the time, from the Jewish people to the Nazis. This book is so well researched and includes pictures and letters from the time. I highly recommend the paper version of this one so you don’t miss out on those. Thank you to HarperCollins and Harper Audio for an ARC and ALC in exchange for my honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Meticulously researched and informative, this is a book I won’t forget. When I bought the book, I didn’t realize that it was nonfiction. While initially disappointed, this read like a novel and was made all the more poignant by the fact that these women existed and some lived to tell their stories. I particularly enjoyed how the book did not end with the liberation of the camps. As the remaining survivors become fewer and fewer, we must cherish these accounts and use them to remember the depravit Meticulously researched and informative, this is a book I won’t forget. When I bought the book, I didn’t realize that it was nonfiction. While initially disappointed, this read like a novel and was made all the more poignant by the fact that these women existed and some lived to tell their stories. I particularly enjoyed how the book did not end with the liberation of the camps. As the remaining survivors become fewer and fewer, we must cherish these accounts and use them to remember the depravity that humanity is capable of as well as the bonds that keep people alive in the most deplorable times.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I have been on a WWII binge for the last decade. I am so glad to have read about a little-known part of history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian Centrone

    Extraordinary.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    An emotionally difficult read about seamstresses in concentration camps and what they did to try to keep themselves and others alive. Well-researched/well-interviewed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Briar Ellery Drost

    Everyone should read this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: by Lucy Adlington is a True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive in World War 2. This new book by Lucy was amazing and a very hard read. I had to put it down several times and then come back to it. This book is a very powerful true story of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and is about twenty-five mainly Jewish women and young girls who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion work The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: by Lucy Adlington is a True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive in World War 2. This new book by Lucy was amazing and a very hard read. I had to put it down several times and then come back to it. This book is a very powerful true story of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and is about twenty-five mainly Jewish women and young girls who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps. They created and designed beautiful clothes for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. These talented women produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust. As they worked they hoped it would spare them from the gas chambers. This fashion workshop was called the Upper Tailoring Studio and was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, Lucy has a way of writing; that will pull you in. Her books are always beautifully written with so much care and you will need a box of tissues handy. This book "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz:" need to be shared with others and not be forgotten on what happened at Auschwitz in World War 2. I highly recommend this book and several tissues. Plus, a must read book for 2021 Big Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

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