Helen Lewis was a dancer, and it was this - along with courage, integrity and soundness of mind - that enabled her to survive. If she hadn't been co-opted, in 1944, to help with a Christmas performance, the next stage would have been a lorry to Stutthof (one of the extermination camps). As it was, each successive episode in the saga of endurance marked an advance in suffering over its predecessor. The ghetto of Terezn, with its hunger, oppression, illness, idiotic tasks, work, cold, and the frequent deaths of inmates, would start to look bearable, in comparison with the afflictions to come.
Terezn was the first place of confinement for the young dancer and philosophy graduate and her then husband Paul (who didn't survive), followed by Auschwitz, Kochstadt, and then the 'death march' - the terrible trek before the advance of the Russian Army in January 1945. Only once, during this last ordeal, with liberation in sight, did Helen Lewis lose the will to live - 'I pulled the blanket over my face and gave up' - but, somehow, she kept going. All of this makes inspiriting, searing and enthralling reading. It is a book to cherish.