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*** The New York Times Bestseller ***
'Lucy Adlington tells of the horrors of the Nazi occupation and the concentration camps from a fascinating and original angle. She introduces us to a little known aspect of the period, highlighting the role of clothes in the grimmest of societies imaginable and giving an insight into the women who stayed alive by stitching' - Alexandra Shulman, author of Clothes...and other things that matter
'Compelling... Adlington tells the stories of the women with clarity and steely precision' - Jewish Chronicle
'An utterly absorbing, important and unique historical read' - Judy Batalion, NY Times bestselling author of The Light of Our Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos
'Powerful... a fascinating account.' - Woman
The 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.
Adlington (The Red Ribbon) presents the moving story of an obscure, but especially cruel, story from the Holocaust the experiences of women who tried to survive the rigors and murderous violence of a Nazi death camp by making use of their talent for making fancy clothes. Hedwig H ss, whose husband Rudolf was in charge of Auschwitz, shared the Nazi elite's desire to wear attractive garments. That led her to create a clothing workshop in the camp, comprised of Jewish and non-Jewish Communist seamstresses, who created beautiful fashions "for the very people who despised them as subversives and subhuman." The clothing workers' experiences are vividly recreated through the author's extensive research, including interviews with Bracha Kohut, the last surviving dressmaker. Kohut, along with her colleagues, had been torn from their normal lives by the Nazis, separated from their loved ones, and forced to witness sadistic acts of cruelty. They persevered in spite of those torments, struggling to employ their needles, thread, and fabric to stay alive one day at a time, while fearing execution if a design did not sufficiently please their "clients." Even those who feel that they've read enough survivor accounts will find themselves surprised and affected.