Born in 1881 in New York City, Gemma La Guardia Gluck was the daughter of Italian immigrants, a mother of prestigious Italian Jewish lineage and a father who became a U.S. army bandleader. She was the sister of beloved New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Gemma and her Hungarian Jewish husband were living in
Budapest in 1944 when Nazi troops stormed the city. Eichmann and Himmler ordered her arrest as a political hostage because she was La Guardia’s sister.
Gluck recounts the plight of Budapest’s Jews, deportation to Mauthausen with her husband, imprisonment at the notorious Ravensbriick women’s concentration camp, and difficulties as a displaced person in postwar Berlin. With compassion and sensitivity she chronicles unspeakable evil, kindness at great risk, and courage among women in a prefeminist world. She also recalls her girlhood years spent in the Old West, native Americans befriended by her mother, her family’s return to Europe, and her brother’s ambitions and rise to success.
Gemma’s memoir is a story of a wise and strong woman who remained optimistic and resourceful, even when life was much less than fair.
Her story, first published in 1961, has been out of print for decades. This revised edition contains a new prologue, epilogue, photos, annotated material, and recently discovered letters between Gemma and Fiorello.
Rochelle G. Saidel is the author of The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and other Holocaust-related books. She is founder and director of Remember the Women Institute, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to research in women's history.
5.5 x 8.5, 162 pages, 18 black and white illustrations