A New York Times bestseller
The unforgettable story of two unsung heroes of World War II: sisters Janny and Lien Brilleslijper who joined the Dutch Resistance, helped save dozen of lives, were captured by the Nazis, and ultimately survived the Holocaust.
Eight months after Germany’s invasion of Poland, the Nazis roll into The Netherlands, expanding their reign of brutality to the Dutch. But by the Winter of 1943, resistance is growing. Among those fighting their brutal Nazi occupiers are two Jewish sisters, Janny and Lien Brilleslijper from Amsterdam. Risking arrest and death, the sisters help save others, sheltering them in a clandestine safehouse in the woods, they called “The High Nest.”
This secret refuge would become one of the most important Jewish safehouses in the country, serving as a hiding place and underground center for resistance partisans as well as artists condemned by Hitler. From The High Nest, an underground web of artists arises, giving hope and light to those living in terror in Holland as they begin to restore the dazzling pre-war life of Amsterdam and The Hague.
When the house and its occupants are eventually betrayed, the most terrifying time of the sisters' lives begins. As Allied troops close in, the Brilleslijper family are rushed onto the last train to Auschwitz, along with Anne Frank and her family. The journey will bring Janny and Lien close to Anne and her older sister Margot. The days ahead will test the sisters beyond human imagination as they are stripped of everything but their courage, their resilience, and their love for each other.
Based on meticulous research and unprecedented access to the Brilleslijpers’ personal archives of memoirs and photos, Sisters of Auschwitz is a long-overdue homage to two young women’s heroism and moral bravery—and a reminder of the power each of us has to change the world.
Dutch lawyer and novelist van Iperen weaves a spellbinding story of resistance and survival during WWII. Lien Brilleslijper, a dancer, and her younger sister Janny, who was newly married and pregnant when war broke out in 1939, became active members of the Dutch resistance, printing an underground newspaper, hiding political refugees, and making fake identity cards for Dutch Jews trying to avoid deportation. In the summer of 1941, with both sisters' families facing arrest, they fled their respective homes for a house in the forest near the village of Naarden that became a resistance center and refuge for Jews fleeing the Nazis. Betrayed by an informer in 1944, they were arrested and transported to Auschwitz and then Bergen-Belsen with Anne Frank and her family. Tens of thousands of prisoners, including Anne and her sister Margot, died before British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen in April 1945, but Janny and Lien survived. Van Iperen's prose is poetic without lapsing into sentimentality, and she maintains suspense from the first page to the last. Offering fascinating insights into Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter, the fate of the Frank family, and the bonds of sisterly devotion, this standout history isn't to be missed.
Interesting, enjoyed this perspective of this time, but thought it was not written well…did not flow.
Well Written and Important Story
There were many Jewish resisters during WW2, and woke especially especially played important roles. This book is well written, exciting, and moving. While you may know much bod what is written about, then viewpoint is still highly worth your time. Unfortunately I think the translation is somewhat poor and stilted, and hard to follow. But still an excellent book. Read it.