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My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor

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An international bestseller, this powerful memoir by a ninety-eight-year-old Jewish Resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor “shows us how to find hope in hopelessness and light in the darkness” (Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift). Selma van de Perre was seventeen when World War II began. Until then, being Jewish in the Netherlands had not been an issue. But by An international bestseller, this powerful memoir by a ninety-eight-year-old Jewish Resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor “shows us how to find hope in hopelessness and light in the darkness” (Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift). Selma van de Perre was seventeen when World War II began. Until then, being Jewish in the Netherlands had not been an issue. But by 1941 it had become a matter of life or death. On several occasions, Selma barely avoided being rounded up by the Nazis. While her father was summoned to a work camp and eventually hospitalized in a Dutch transition camp, her mother and sister went into hiding—until they were betrayed in June 1943 and sent to Auschwitz. In an act of defiance and with nowhere else to turn, Selma took on an assumed identity, dyed her hair blond, and joined the Resistance movement, using the pseudonym Margareta van der Kuit. For two years “Marga” risked it all. Using a fake ID, and passing as Aryan, she traveled around the country and even to Nazi headquarters in Paris, sharing information and delivering papers—doing, as she later explained, what “had to be done.” In July 1944 her luck ran out. She was transported to Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp as a political prisoner. Unlike her parents and sister who she later found out died in other camps—Selma survived by using her alias, pretending to be someone else. It was only after the war ended that she could reclaim her identity and dared to say once again: My name is Selma. “We were ordinary people plunged into extraordinary circumstances,” she writes in this “astonishing, inspirational, and important” memoir (Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped). Full of hope and courage, this is Selma’s story in her own words.


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An international bestseller, this powerful memoir by a ninety-eight-year-old Jewish Resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor “shows us how to find hope in hopelessness and light in the darkness” (Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift). Selma van de Perre was seventeen when World War II began. Until then, being Jewish in the Netherlands had not been an issue. But by An international bestseller, this powerful memoir by a ninety-eight-year-old Jewish Resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor “shows us how to find hope in hopelessness and light in the darkness” (Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift). Selma van de Perre was seventeen when World War II began. Until then, being Jewish in the Netherlands had not been an issue. But by 1941 it had become a matter of life or death. On several occasions, Selma barely avoided being rounded up by the Nazis. While her father was summoned to a work camp and eventually hospitalized in a Dutch transition camp, her mother and sister went into hiding—until they were betrayed in June 1943 and sent to Auschwitz. In an act of defiance and with nowhere else to turn, Selma took on an assumed identity, dyed her hair blond, and joined the Resistance movement, using the pseudonym Margareta van der Kuit. For two years “Marga” risked it all. Using a fake ID, and passing as Aryan, she traveled around the country and even to Nazi headquarters in Paris, sharing information and delivering papers—doing, as she later explained, what “had to be done.” In July 1944 her luck ran out. She was transported to Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp as a political prisoner. Unlike her parents and sister who she later found out died in other camps—Selma survived by using her alias, pretending to be someone else. It was only after the war ended that she could reclaim her identity and dared to say once again: My name is Selma. “We were ordinary people plunged into extraordinary circumstances,” she writes in this “astonishing, inspirational, and important” memoir (Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped). Full of hope and courage, this is Selma’s story in her own words.

30 review for My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aoife

    I received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Selma van de Perre is a Holocaust and Ravensbrück camp survivor and in this book, she tells her experience of the war starting from her early childhood, her memories of the war as a young woman growing up in the Netherlands and her eventual separation form her family. her work in the Resistance and her capture. This was a really interesting look at the war from the eyes of someone who truly lived it, experienc I received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Selma van de Perre is a Holocaust and Ravensbrück camp survivor and in this book, she tells her experience of the war starting from her early childhood, her memories of the war as a young woman growing up in the Netherlands and her eventual separation form her family. her work in the Resistance and her capture. This was a really interesting look at the war from the eyes of someone who truly lived it, experiences the trauma of losing family members and almost dying herself and finding ways to rebuild her life afterwards. The tone of this book is very conservational and Selma's story is an easy one to follow and understand. Her love for her family really comes through in every word she writes about them which makes it all the more heartbreaking when we know they didn't survive the war. Selma's work in the Resistance was interesting to follow though I felt at times, she almost rushed through her stories and I would have loved some deep dives into particular trips she had to take undercover. I think Selma herself seems really humble about her war efforts and it seems like she really doesn't understand what an extraordinary woman she is! The time in the concentration camp was hard to read about and knowing Selma was at death's door so often, it's just amazing to think about the strength and fortitude she displayed to keep going, to keep getting up every day never knowing if she was ever going to be saved. I definitely think Selma kept the readers at arm's reach in this book, and I'm not sure if I really understood who she was deep down (for example Edith Eger's The Choice, I really felt like I knew Edith and her personality). But also I find this extremely understandable as Selma is telling us about an extremely traumatic time in her life that she might not want to deep dive into too much, and she's also a very old woman now too so this style of storytelling was probably easier too! I really liked that Selma also put an emphasis on how hard it was to keep going after the war and the depression she struggled with and that she knew other people struggled with as well. And the fact that many survivors were told to just 'keep living' and not to think about the atrocity that had happened to them and their families. As well, Semla briefly described the trauma young Jewish children experienced both living during the war as well as from being separated from parents at a young age, loving their foster parents and then bein returned to parents who were, tragically, all but strangers to them. And that many children never really got over this. This is a really wonderful read full of sadness and heartbreak but also full of love, friendship and survival. What a lady!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I was interested to read a Holocaust story from the perspective of a Dutch citizen as I believe each occupied country’s experiences would be a little different as much as Nazi rules would have been much the same. The book begins with Selma telling of her happy and unremarkable childhood with loving parents, two brothers and one sister. Selma, a Dutch Jewess was able to gain false identity papers and pass as a non-Jew and work for the Dutch Resistance. In many instances Selma was incredibly lucky, I was interested to read a Holocaust story from the perspective of a Dutch citizen as I believe each occupied country’s experiences would be a little different as much as Nazi rules would have been much the same. The book begins with Selma telling of her happy and unremarkable childhood with loving parents, two brothers and one sister. Selma, a Dutch Jewess was able to gain false identity papers and pass as a non-Jew and work for the Dutch Resistance. In many instances Selma was incredibly lucky, until her luck ran out and she was arrested as a political prisoner. Ending up in Ravensbrück after have spent time in various other camps Selma writes of the horrors she experienced even as she passed as a non-Jew. Selma’s parents and younger sister did not survive. Selma uses the word ‘murdered’ throughout the book when she speaks of what happened to the countless Jews and others tortured and killed by the Nazis. A book about courage!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Phi

    I believe that good fiction makes you believe that it’s all true and that good non-fiction makes you question how much is really true. My Name Is Selma does this but let me explain. I do not, in any way, mean that I doubt that the events detailed in this book really happened. What I mean is that Selma Van Der Perre so artfully weaves her story that the reader is compelled to assess what they know about the human experience. Had I been reading fiction, I would have said that Selma’s experience wa I believe that good fiction makes you believe that it’s all true and that good non-fiction makes you question how much is really true. My Name Is Selma does this but let me explain. I do not, in any way, mean that I doubt that the events detailed in this book really happened. What I mean is that Selma Van Der Perre so artfully weaves her story that the reader is compelled to assess what they know about the human experience. Had I been reading fiction, I would have said that Selma’s experience was unrealistic. But clearly it isn’t - because it happened. So now I have come to understand that some people are just that lucky and, more importantly, some people are just that strong. The willpower that Selma shows through this memoir - even the willpower which it must have taken to recount her life - is a testament to her strength and resilience. I am so grateful that I have read this book as it has made me aware of so many things.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Braekeveldt

    While I have a deep understanding and respect for the life and atrocities Selma went through it could have been written in a more impacting way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I feel this book is well written and engaging. It tells the story of Selma van de Perre and her experiences during the 2nd World War living in the Netherlands with her family. When they all end up in different directions, leaving Selma the last one, she has to figure out the best way to avoid being picked up by the Nazis. She changes her name and her look to seem non-Jewish, becoming Margareta van der Kuit, and blonde too. If you are a reader of this type of book, as I am, you may want to check t I feel this book is well written and engaging. It tells the story of Selma van de Perre and her experiences during the 2nd World War living in the Netherlands with her family. When they all end up in different directions, leaving Selma the last one, she has to figure out the best way to avoid being picked up by the Nazis. She changes her name and her look to seem non-Jewish, becoming Margareta van der Kuit, and blonde too. If you are a reader of this type of book, as I am, you may want to check this one out. This book comes out May 11th. This is my second book about women resistance fighters in the last few months. They sure are some very brave ladies with some harrowing stories to tell. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Selma van de Perre, and the publisher.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rach

    Selma had me sucked in from reading the first couple of sentences, I honestly feel it's a book that everyone should read.. The experiences she had are some that we could never understand or imagine happening to us or those around us. Truly a survivors story that will keep you enthralled to the very end Selma had me sucked in from reading the first couple of sentences, I honestly feel it's a book that everyone should read.. The experiences she had are some that we could never understand or imagine happening to us or those around us. Truly a survivors story that will keep you enthralled to the very end

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda Goodman

    This was told in a very dispassionate voice which was disconcerting considering the subject matter. It is the recollections of a 98 year old survivor of the horrors of WWII. Selma took on another name and posed as a non-Jewish woman. She worked in the Dutch resistance and ended up in the camps for the last part of the war. One of the things that amazed me is her recall of the events after 75 years!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Skerman

    An outstanding book. I picked it up, unable to sleep at 2 in the morning, and finished as dawn broke at 6, I couldn't stop reading it. The author is a truly amazing woman, living an extraordinary life, from an ordinary background. The title of the book is pivotal and when 'my name is Selma' comes up in the narrative, it was so poignant that I cried as I read the words. This book records despair and horror, courage and conviction to a cause, and shows how much a human can use the power of positiv An outstanding book. I picked it up, unable to sleep at 2 in the morning, and finished as dawn broke at 6, I couldn't stop reading it. The author is a truly amazing woman, living an extraordinary life, from an ordinary background. The title of the book is pivotal and when 'my name is Selma' comes up in the narrative, it was so poignant that I cried as I read the words. This book records despair and horror, courage and conviction to a cause, and shows how much a human can use the power of positivity and the will to carry on, to survive. Selma's love of her family, her friends and her country runs through this book, and that love clearly remains. I would love to meet her. I have Jewish heritage and am extremely proud of this, the fate of my father's relatives is unknown to me, it was something no one spoke of. There just isn't the words to thank this amazing woman for her tenacity and devotion to the lives of others. I will undoubtedly buy this book, I was fortunate enough to be able to read this as a review copy. This story has been held by Selma for decades, it's a story that should be heard and a book that should be available in every secondary school. This is history from those who experienced it, who survived it, and who have lived with these memories. Selma really is someone who can take the epithet 'inspirational', although I don't suppose that she would agree, she is a very modest and self-deprecating lady. I think she's wonderful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison Palmer

    The English translation of Selma van de Perre's memoir is a straightforward chronicle of resistance and survival. Selma is two things simultaneously: a hero, a survivor, a woman who risked her life to fight fascism; she is also an ordinary person born in extraordinary times. We can read her story through both lenses and I think it's very important that we do. This is a fast, absorbing, and necessary read. Given the events of recent years, English-speakers in the Western world could stand to refr The English translation of Selma van de Perre's memoir is a straightforward chronicle of resistance and survival. Selma is two things simultaneously: a hero, a survivor, a woman who risked her life to fight fascism; she is also an ordinary person born in extraordinary times. We can read her story through both lenses and I think it's very important that we do. This is a fast, absorbing, and necessary read. Given the events of recent years, English-speakers in the Western world could stand to refresh their memory of life under authoritarian rule. I was especially moved by Selma's description of those she worked with in the Dutch Resistance and those who lived beside her in Ravensbrück. Some lived, many died, and their fates were usually a matter of pure luck. The author tries to honor them all by remembering the work they did to free Europe. Lastly, I just finished reading "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and I caught an echo of his beliefs in Selma's book. Both express the importance of hope and meaning even in the darkest hours of our lives. Without belief in the possibility of a better future, we inevitably doom ourselves. "My Name is Selma" tells us to hang on to hope, always.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra "Jeanz"

    I’ll be totally honest I feel drawn to books about the survivors of the Holocaust. I feel very strongly that their stories must be told and never ever forgotten, so when I saw this book and the picture of Selma, “the Ravensbrúck survivor” and “Jewish Resistance fighter” “today” at age 98 I felt compelled to read about her life as well as her many near deaths too. I think the fact the cover image is Selma’s face makes it so powerful and almost irresistible, I know I would have to pick it up from a I’ll be totally honest I feel drawn to books about the survivors of the Holocaust. I feel very strongly that their stories must be told and never ever forgotten, so when I saw this book and the picture of Selma, “the Ravensbrúck survivor” and “Jewish Resistance fighter” “today” at age 98 I felt compelled to read about her life as well as her many near deaths too. I think the fact the cover image is Selma’s face makes it so powerful and almost irresistible, I know I would have to pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more about the remarkable woman who was a Jewish Resistance fighter who also managed to survive Ravensbruck too! The book begins with Selma hiding hoping to evade capture. Sadly, she is found by an SS Guard and thrown into the last wagon. Selma doesn’t know any of the women she is in the wagon with. It turns out the women in the wagon are asocial, meaning they have done something the Germans do not like. It ends up being a bit of good luck for Selma as these women worked in the kitchen which means they have had access to food and have managed to smuggle more with them than those in the other wagons. When the women bicker about how to share or ration their food it is Selma that speaks up and ends up being chosen to take care of and distribute the food, in an attempt to make it last for their journey. It’s whilst on the long train journey that Selma writes a not to her best friend Gretchen, she tells her friend she is in a cattle wagon on her way to Ravensbruck or Sachsenhausen. She throws the note through a gap in the slats of the wagon hoping it reaches her friend but not knowing if it will. The book then reverts to the past and gives some background about Selma and her parents and siblings. Selma’s father was an actor so they moved around a lot for his work. His work was also sporadic so Selma was used to life changing rapidly. When he was in work they could live, eat and dress well. However. when work was scarce they wore hand me down clothes, made do, and ate what their mother could get her hands on to cook for them. Maybe it is this type of life of having to adapt to her surroundings that helped Selma exist and survive Ravensbrusck. Though Selma and her family were Jewish, they weren’t regular attenders at their church. The most religious thing about Selma and possibly the only clue to her Jewish heritage was the fact she wore a Star of David necklace. Some would say lucky for Selma, she didn’t have the typical Jewish hair and looks so easily passed as a German. Several times in the book, Selma refers to herself as lucky. As she works distributing messages and leaflets within the Jewish Resistance, she comes really close to being captured. Selma’s part of the resistance ends up being caught, yet once again she is not identified as Jewish and is put with political prisoners. Selma has many brushes with death, even when liberated from Ravensbruck, she narrowly misses being in one of the vehicles that is blown up when mistaken for a vehicle full of fleeing German Army personnel. I don’t want to reveal everything about Selma’s life as you need to read it all in the words and order Selma chooses to divulge it in the book. It is her story to tell. You may think that when Selma is liberated from Ravensbruck her suffering is over, but it is far from finished. Selma may have been freed from Ravensbruck but she has no where to live, no money, just nothing. Selma naturally revisits her old home and discovers the odd neighbour here and there that is still in the area. Selma is desperate to know what happened to her dear father and her mother and her younger sister Clara. Unfortunately, the reality is devastating. Selma still manages to pick herself up and get on with her life. Her two brothers fought and are both now in England. This book tells how the war and Nazi regime progressed. First what could be considered small things were taken away from Jewish families, like not being allowed into the same cinema as others, not being allowed out. Then losing their businesses and property. All perhaps things the Jewish people could survive or cope with alone but the way things escalated because of one mans idea’s of perfection, that same man’s feelings of hate towards a race of people would be unbelievable, and you would think it a fictional story if you didn’t know that it is fact and the people in these books are real, their losses real, their suffering real. The more I read about the era, the more I learn, then look at the world around us and shockingly see similarities, the beginnings of possibilities of all these atrocities happening again. I found it interesting to learn that the Red Cross visited different camps run by the Nazis, obviously only shown certain areas and healthy prisoners. Red Cross parcels were regularly sent to these concentration camps. However, in reality it was extremely rare for any of the parcel contents to ever make it to those in need. The guards were the ones that benefited from the Red Cross parcels not the prisoners existing in the horrendous conditions hidden from the visiting Red Cross. How could the truth be so easily hidden? I also read the sad story of the Resistance member that revealed information in the hope it would save Selma and his other colleagues. Of course, the Nazis did not keep to their end of the deal, lives were lost and the Resistance member survived the war and ended up being labelled a collaborator, despite having suffered greatly himself. Though I have read quite a few of these survivor stories there is always more to learn. I didn’t know Ravensbruck gave their prisoners numbers but did not tattoo them onto them as other camps did. I think I have read a lot about Auschwitz and not so much about the women only camp of Ravensbruck. I had also read about “The White Rose” but perhaps not so much about the Jewish Resistance. I know it is a very dark period of history but these stories must be told, these people must be remembered, then at least they did not die in vain. Selma truly is a remarkable woman, but through her words in the book she strikes me as someone who would shrug off an accolade or praise for what she did. Selma tells her story in a matter of fact way, how it all happened. Selma made and lost friends along the way. After the war she did her best to trace family and friends tracing what happened to them, visiting them if they too survived and mourning the ones that didn’t. I am honestly thankful to Selma for telling her story, so that younger generations can learn the truth and pass on her story into the future too. Selma doesn’t make out she is/was anything special, she just tells her story and that of those around her throughout her journey. As she says in the little introduction of the book she has shared her story as a tribute to all those who suffered and died. The ironic thing is all through her journey through the resistance and in Ravensbruck she was not identified as Jewish. She was arrested and held as a political prisoner, under an assumed name and false identity papers. Did being a political prisoner as opposed to being a Jewish prisoner save her life? Who knows, maybe it did. I imagine anytime those identity papers were called for, examined were extremely anxious times for Selma. She must have been continually on edge, and she states in the book she trusted no one with her true name and heritage. It wasn’t until everything was over that Selma reclaimed her real birth name in the hope it may help her trace her family and friends. My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that it was an amazing account of a brave, courageous woman who survived the atrocities around her by living one day at a time. Trying her best to hold on to a shred of hope. Despite the odds she survives Ravensbruck. Her life story and those like her should be told, and retold, handed down the generations so they are never forgotten or repeated. To sum up this book takes you through a whole range of emotions. From dread and being on the edge of your seat as Selma describe how she evades being almost caught on many occasions. There’s horror at the conditions she has to live in, anguish when she is so ill, it seems she will die in the camp, to elation when Ravensbruck is liberated, relief she isn’t in the wagon that is bombed yet at the same time despair for those poor women to have survived the war and a concentration camp to be bombed and killed during their liberation by those on their own side of the war. I say this about lots of the books I read about those that survived the Holocaust but Selma’s story is one of courage, bravery and yes as Selma herself says luck and it must be read, and talked about. It’s a message, memories of an horrendous time that should never be forgotten.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jo-Ann Murphy

    This woman does not pull any punches. She describes her experience as a Jew working with the resistance in the Netherlands during World War II. She calls the murderers out for the murder of millions of ordinary people who were only living their lives and not bothering anyone until a madman and the hatred he fomented among his minions destroyed their lives and families leaving more victims in generations that came after this period. It is told in a straightforward factual manner without going into This woman does not pull any punches. She describes her experience as a Jew working with the resistance in the Netherlands during World War II. She calls the murderers out for the murder of millions of ordinary people who were only living their lives and not bothering anyone until a madman and the hatred he fomented among his minions destroyed their lives and families leaving more victims in generations that came after this period. It is told in a straightforward factual manner without going into great detail about the horrors she and others experienced in the Concentration Camps. It should be required reading for high school students as it tells the story without the blood and gore that fills many of the books they are required to read. I am in awe of the courage she showed in the life-threatening situations with which she was confronted. I am grateful she wrote this book and hope it will remain in print for hundreds of years so others may learn from that horrible period of history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for the arc of My Name Is Selma. This is a remarkable, emotional and sensational memoir of one of the few jewish survivors of WW2. We learn about her experiences and her life in world war 2 and what happened which was from hiding refugess to her travels and even leaflet handing out. I really loved this book, this was an amazing memoir to read, i definitely recommend to all in which like to read true life stories especially about w Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for the arc of My Name Is Selma. This is a remarkable, emotional and sensational memoir of one of the few jewish survivors of WW2. We learn about her experiences and her life in world war 2 and what happened which was from hiding refugess to her travels and even leaflet handing out. I really loved this book, this was an amazing memoir to read, i definitely recommend to all in which like to read true life stories especially about world war 2. 5 star reads for me! Thank you Selma for letting us read your experiences!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway from Simon and Schuster. My Name is Selma is an amazing true story of a young Jewish woman who survived Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. She served in the resistance and ended up as a political prisoner in Ravenbruck. This is Selma's first hand account of what she went through and how she survived. She also shares the story of members of her family and friends, some of whom lived and some who perished. Overall, Selman and her story is inspiring. At time I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway from Simon and Schuster. My Name is Selma is an amazing true story of a young Jewish woman who survived Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. She served in the resistance and ended up as a political prisoner in Ravenbruck. This is Selma's first hand account of what she went through and how she survived. She also shares the story of members of her family and friends, some of whom lived and some who perished. Overall, Selman and her story is inspiring. At times I didn't care for the narrative; that is, it almost read as she had dictated the story, which was written down verbatim rather than edited as a memoir or novel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Advanced Reader Copy Review: This incredibly moving true story memoir of Selma Van De Pierre (née Velleman), a Jewish resistance fighter during WW II in the Netherlands is acutely compelling. Her defiance, resilience, courage and indeed luck was both heart breaking and poignant. The atrocities she endured during the Nazi occupation and the horror of many of her family members being murdered moved me to tears. Her story is one that must be told, remembered, passed down through the generations and Advanced Reader Copy Review: This incredibly moving true story memoir of Selma Van De Pierre (née Velleman), a Jewish resistance fighter during WW II in the Netherlands is acutely compelling. Her defiance, resilience, courage and indeed luck was both heart breaking and poignant. The atrocities she endured during the Nazi occupation and the horror of many of her family members being murdered moved me to tears. Her story is one that must be told, remembered, passed down through the generations and learned from so that it will never be repeated again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    A remarkable memoir of a young Jewish Dutchwoman surviving the Nazis even as she actively engages in the Dutch resistance movement. She is eventually caught and ends up in the notorious women's concentration camp of Ravensbruck. A series of lucky breaks ensures her survival. At this writing, she is 98 years old and still active and independent. A remarkable memoir of a young Jewish Dutchwoman surviving the Nazis even as she actively engages in the Dutch resistance movement. She is eventually caught and ends up in the notorious women's concentration camp of Ravensbruck. A series of lucky breaks ensures her survival. At this writing, she is 98 years old and still active and independent.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jack Gibson

    A touching personal account of the life and times of a very brave, young Jewish resistance worker during WWII, with a nice few ending chapters on her liberation and post war endeavours. Readers with a soft spot for hearing someone tell their story, and a very brave and interesting one at that, shall not be disappointed! The unknown really is the scariest thing...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily Carter-Dunn

    My thanks to Selma van de Perre, Netgalley and Random House UK for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My Name Is Selma is the incredible story of Selma van de Perre, a young Jewish Dutch woman at the time of World War II, who took part in the resistance movement in the Netherlands, Belgium and France during the Nazi occupation. From Selma's daring travels delivering resistance pamphlets, to hiding refugees and to her eventual arrest, we learn about Selma's experience during the My thanks to Selma van de Perre, Netgalley and Random House UK for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My Name Is Selma is the incredible story of Selma van de Perre, a young Jewish Dutch woman at the time of World War II, who took part in the resistance movement in the Netherlands, Belgium and France during the Nazi occupation. From Selma's daring travels delivering resistance pamphlets, to hiding refugees and to her eventual arrest, we learn about Selma's experience during the war. What an incredible story! I have read a number of survivor accounts during my time as a history and RE teacher, but this is the first I have read about a member of the resistance. Whilst I knew that Selma survived (obviously), I was on the edge of my seat on a number of occasions as things were turning very bad. Selma certainly did have a lot of luck at that time. Selma does detail harrowing parts of her experiences, but does so in a censored way. She does not go into great detail, which I actually think is a good thing. As an educator, we are taught not to sensationalise the harrowing images and experiences from the Holocaust. Would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the resistance and female political prisoners of the Nazis.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    3.5/5 stars, rounded to 4 since goodreads hasn’t caught in that we want half star reviews! ~ We hear all about non-Jews who were brave and opposed the Nazi regime by hiding Jews, but something I learned is that few Jewish resistance fighters were publicly known, because many changed their names to survive. My Name is Selma is the story of a Jewish woman who changed her identity, fought in the resistance, and was imprisoned at Ravensbruck, not because she was Jewish, but because she was a “politica 3.5/5 stars, rounded to 4 since goodreads hasn’t caught in that we want half star reviews! ~ We hear all about non-Jews who were brave and opposed the Nazi regime by hiding Jews, but something I learned is that few Jewish resistance fighters were publicly known, because many changed their names to survive. My Name is Selma is the story of a Jewish woman who changed her identity, fought in the resistance, and was imprisoned at Ravensbruck, not because she was Jewish, but because she was a “political prisoner.” For a lot of the book, it did feel like readers were held at arm’s length, but the writing style could also be due to the translation. However, I also don’t blame the author for not wanting to dwell in lengthy detail about what she endured at Ravensbruck; vulnerability can mean having to relive trauma, and I can respect her decision about not wanting to do that, if that is the case. In fact, Selma said that she hopes that the book helps preserves the people who died or suffered in the Holocaust, and her attitude after liberation wasn’t to focus on what happened, but what could be, to enjoy the future she had to its fullest. The core of the book is relationships. Many points in the book emphasize how finding connections and support from others was critical to survival, or simply making things feel better. This is contrasted with the effects of betrayal, loss, and loneliness. When Selma lived in the Netherlands during the war and before being imprisoned, she spent a lot of time going home to home as it became more dangerous to harbor Jews and the war made food and money scarce. The last third, focusing on liberation, life after the war, and recovery is probably the most detailed and rich. Her experience re-integrating into society, coping with her parents’ and sister’s murders in camps, and leaving her life in the Netherlands for England was very moving. Additionally, I learned some new information I didn’t know, even though I’ve read a fair amount of WWII books. Even though the resistance fighters were obviously on the side of good and helped protect many Jews, if they gave up information during torture, the Netherlands branded them as traitors alongside real, horrible war criminals after the war. While I also knew from other WWII/Holocaust books that people didn’t know much about the concentration/execution camps, I also learned even many Jews believed for a long time that the camps they were being sent to were simply labor camps. It wasn’t just the Allies that we’re unaware of the atrocities being committed, it was almost all of Europe being kept in the dark until liberation. It’s not my favorite nonfiction/autobiography, but there are important messages and moving moments within its pages, so I can’t not recommend. Releases 05/11/2021 in the US (I believe it’s already been released in the U.K.?)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Until the age of seventeen Selma lived in the Netherlands without any problems concerning her identity. She lived in a loving family of two parents with four children, two boys and a sister. Her life was unremarkable with the usual amount of ups and downs. She loved her life; she was a good student, adventurous, confident, settled and happy. Then World War 11 broke out in 1939 and by 1941 it was impossible to live a normal life as a Jewish family. All Jewish people were persecuted by the Nazis a Until the age of seventeen Selma lived in the Netherlands without any problems concerning her identity. She lived in a loving family of two parents with four children, two boys and a sister. Her life was unremarkable with the usual amount of ups and downs. She loved her life; she was a good student, adventurous, confident, settled and happy. Then World War 11 broke out in 1939 and by 1941 it was impossible to live a normal life as a Jewish family. All Jewish people were persecuted by the Nazis and had to seek refuge, fight against the Nazis or risk your life being cut short. Times were perilous and you were not allowed to mix with non-Jews. Jews had to obey a curfew and follow lots of restrictive laws aimed at segregation. Then they were hunted down, their belongings taken from them and all too often they were sent to concentration camps and worse, to the death chambers and murdered. Selma found friends to shield her and eventually, in an act of defiance and bravery, joined the Resistance movement under the fake ID of Margareta van der Kuit, passing herself off as an Indo-European. For two years and with many close calls she travelled around the country doing what had to be done; acting as a go-between, handing out magazines, delivering documents and messages. Several times she was seconds away from discovery and certain death. But then in 1944 her luck ran out and she was captured and loaded into transport taking women to Ravensbrück, the only concentration camp that was women only and used to house political prisoners She was still calling herself by her pseudonym. Throughout her incarceration she kept her identity secret and trusted no one. She was starved and mistreated until at last she was rescued and transported to Sweden. It was only once she was on neutral territory that she revealed her true identity and started the search for her parents and siblings. Now aged ninety-eight and living in London, Selma has written her autobiography underlining her belief that these war stories must be revealed so that the younger generation learn about the atrocities of war. Her story is not an easy read because of the very sad and violent content, but nevertheless I found her story very moving. She has been honoured for her courage and bravery and I feel privileged to have read her story. I have been very careful in outlining her story in precis so that your reading experience has not been spoilt. The details of her experiences are detailed, shocking and very engaging but for you to find out. I would like to thank NetGalley and publisher Transworld Digital for my copy of this novel, sent to me in return for an honest review. I recommended this memoir as a thought provoking and absorbing read. I will never forget Selma and her courageous fight for justice and freedom.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Selma Van de Perre is a wonderful older person. Born a Jew, the third of four children, into a family living in the Netherlands, Selma has a lovely early life. However, come 1939, enter Hitler and his armed forces. Life goes on more or less as normal, until the Nazis enter the Netherlands. Some people seem to 'disappear', never to be seen again. Eventually, Selma joins the Dutch Resistance, as she has a strong inclination to help others. Selma, her mother and little sister Clara go into hiding, Selma Van de Perre is a wonderful older person. Born a Jew, the third of four children, into a family living in the Netherlands, Selma has a lovely early life. However, come 1939, enter Hitler and his armed forces. Life goes on more or less as normal, until the Nazis enter the Netherlands. Some people seem to 'disappear', never to be seen again. Eventually, Selma joins the Dutch Resistance, as she has a strong inclination to help others. Selma, her mother and little sister Clara go into hiding, but her father's fate is very different. Selma's Resistance work takes her all over the Netherlands. Like Jews across Europe, Selma's life had been one of fear, but also a certain amount of 'excitement', as they try and fight the enemy. Now her life makes another turn, but one for the worse. In late 1944, Selma and a few other Resistance fighters are betrayed by someone they had thought of as a friend. She's taken to Camp Vught, which becomes her new home for a few months. Ravensbruck is her next stop, until liberation in 1945. After the war, Selma eventually lives in London, where she meets her husband and they have a child together. Selma Van de Perre seems to be an amazing woman. She goes from a fairly up and down life (her father was in the theatre) to Resistance fighter to prisoner of the Germans. Yet, through all this, and despite losing her father, mother, younger sister and many other relatives, Selma still seems to be a positive person. There have been so many tragedies in her life, yet she tried not to dwell too much on the bad times, but to remember the good. Selma is a truly remarkable woman, who wants her story to stand as a memorial for those she loved and lost, as well as being a reminder that this happened to so many more people.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sheila A.

    MY NAME IS SELMA BY Selma Van de Perre A remarkable autobiography from a courageous woman. There are many memoirs on this subject and every one is disturbing. But the power to shock is never absent. Man’s inhumanity to man is never more graphic than in the stories from those who survived the persecution of the Jews and others by the Nazis. Selma has told her story with great simplicity. It reads like a diary or as if she was sitting chatting to the reader. She never over emphasises or dwells on MY NAME IS SELMA BY Selma Van de Perre A remarkable autobiography from a courageous woman. There are many memoirs on this subject and every one is disturbing. But the power to shock is never absent. Man’s inhumanity to man is never more graphic than in the stories from those who survived the persecution of the Jews and others by the Nazis. Selma has told her story with great simplicity. It reads like a diary or as if she was sitting chatting to the reader. She never over emphasises or dwells on the horrors she witnessed and endured, she merely states the basic facts. Her colouring did not identify her as a Jew and that worked in her favour when initially she escaped the dramatic sweeping up of her friends and family in the Netherlands. Never complacent she used her appearance and guile to become a Jewish resistance fighter and under an assumed name even when captured she managed to conceal her identity. There is an acceptance of what she endured and little rancour in the telling or judgement of those who betrayed the Jews, or of the treatment inflicted on herself and others. Not just another Holocaust story but one that is told with gentleness in a matter of fact style leaving the reader to take from the story what they will. There is a tenderness about the story that certainly moved this reader. A horror story? yes - as ever. But one that left me full of admiration for this very brave lady.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Finished this, and I have some complicated feelings about it. I've written and re-written this about fives times already because I have enormous guilt saying anything negative about a holocaust related book. Ever since I told a high school teacher that I didn't like Night by Elie Wiesel and he told me "I think you've missed the point". But I don't think you have to enjoy a style of writing to understand and empathise with the story or the characters, or in this case, the author. Selma Van De Perre Finished this, and I have some complicated feelings about it. I've written and re-written this about fives times already because I have enormous guilt saying anything negative about a holocaust related book. Ever since I told a high school teacher that I didn't like Night by Elie Wiesel and he told me "I think you've missed the point". But I don't think you have to enjoy a style of writing to understand and empathise with the story or the characters, or in this case, the author. Selma Van De Perre was a Jewish Resistance fighter, and survived her time as a political prisoner at Ravensbrück, a women's only concentration camp in Germany during world war 2. She managed to hide her identity as a Jewish woman for the entire length of the war by pretending to be Dutch woman under an assumed identity. Selma was brave, strong willed and by her own admission, lucky to cheat death as many times as she did. But this is one of those books where the style of writing just didn't quite hit home for me. Selma's style is very matter of fact, but its not clear if something was lost in translation or this is her actual tone. If its her own tone, I get it. It can't be easy thinking, let alone writing and talking about the horrors she endured, but I really wish there was more feeling to the story. Still worth a read if you're interested in something holocaust related, just don't go into it expecting a lot of emotion.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donna Barnes

    this book gave me great information on what was going on in the war years (Holocaust) in Netherlands --- I had never read a book about the Dutch and how they dealt with the persecution of jews. Because Netherlands was taken over by Germans, jews and non jews were sent to camps --- it wasn't different from what was happening in for example, France, which was divided, or Italy also divided. The importance to the title of the book refers to how many Dutch had to change their names and therefore had this book gave me great information on what was going on in the war years (Holocaust) in Netherlands --- I had never read a book about the Dutch and how they dealt with the persecution of jews. Because Netherlands was taken over by Germans, jews and non jews were sent to camps --- it wasn't different from what was happening in for example, France, which was divided, or Italy also divided. The importance to the title of the book refers to how many Dutch had to change their names and therefore had problems finding their relatives and friends long after the war. It was pointed out that Ravensbruck was strictly a female camp, and I hadn't realized that until I read this book. Even though the book was informative, I found it a confusing read in its style. Too many people and events were given, and then dismissed (the ending was told to you, as these people/events were presented) --- as a result, it was confusing to follow. For example, a character entered her life, she gave us her name and very little background and then told us she died, and moved on to the next person. I would rather read about less people and get more details fleshed out on the people in her life, so they leave more of a memory for me. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 for that reason. and I wouldn't necessary recommend it. But , as I said before, I am not sure there are a lot of books that deal with the Netherlands during this time period.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Translator Monkey

    How to begin a review of the memoir of an absolutely incredible life of not just a Holocaust survivor, but a fighter? I'm exhausted. This was an incredible read. Written when the author was 98 years old (remarkable all by itself), the book tells the harrowing tale of an extraordinary journey from a young Dutch daughter and student to a young woman on the run for her life, from an initially timid courier of life-saving documents to prisoner of the Nazi regime, and eventually survivor. Selma assume How to begin a review of the memoir of an absolutely incredible life of not just a Holocaust survivor, but a fighter? I'm exhausted. This was an incredible read. Written when the author was 98 years old (remarkable all by itself), the book tells the harrowing tale of an extraordinary journey from a young Dutch daughter and student to a young woman on the run for her life, from an initially timid courier of life-saving documents to prisoner of the Nazi regime, and eventually survivor. Selma assumes many identities as she works her way through the labyrinth created for her by her small party of resistance fighters, and once caught, clings to the last one she'd adopted - and in so doing, hiding her Jewish identity and saving her own life. The mix of incredible luck and incredible wits under pressure allow us the opportunity to read, seventy years on, how tremendous people of every generation and every persuasion could reach within and draw on stores of courage and fortitude they would never have imagined they could harbor. The author is far more modest in her telling than the actual story; once you've read the book, spend some time researching the name of Selma van de Perre. Incredible. Four and a half stars. Sincere thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a free digital ARC; this in no way influenced by review or rating of this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Klein

    I never looked at the entire title of this book, but must have heard about it on a podcast and added it to my audiobook TBR. When I needed a new audiobook and it was available from my library, I checked it out and listened to the entire thing without realizing that it was a memoir until I was finished. Selma led an amazing life full of despair, but she was also quite lucky. Being Jewish and living through WWII, Selma was eventually taken to a concentration camp and lost several members of her fam I never looked at the entire title of this book, but must have heard about it on a podcast and added it to my audiobook TBR. When I needed a new audiobook and it was available from my library, I checked it out and listened to the entire thing without realizing that it was a memoir until I was finished. Selma led an amazing life full of despair, but she was also quite lucky. Being Jewish and living through WWII, Selma was eventually taken to a concentration camp and lost several members of her family and friends to the tragedies of the war. Prior to being taken into custody, she was a resistance fighter dying her hair blonde to look less Jewish and creating fake ID's to help people escape. The most amazing thing about Selma is how many times she was lucky not to die. Time and again she was in a situation that she left and had she stayed, she would have died or been taken into custody by the German soldiers much sooner. Even on the day she was finally released, she escaped a narrow death as they were being transported to safety. I'm glad I didn't realize it was a memoir until I was finished as it made it that much more unbelievable and incredible that she survived and went on to thankfully have a long life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Selma was only 17 when World War II began, living a good life in Amsterdam with her family. Being Jewish in the Netherlands was not an issue until the Nazis started issuing summons to work camps. Selma was separated from the rest of her family, but instead of giving up, she dyed her hair, took up with the resistance movement, and changed her name. Captured in 1944, Selma maintained her alter identity until after the war. My Name Is Selma is the memoir of a woman, forced to live under extreme circ Selma was only 17 when World War II began, living a good life in Amsterdam with her family. Being Jewish in the Netherlands was not an issue until the Nazis started issuing summons to work camps. Selma was separated from the rest of her family, but instead of giving up, she dyed her hair, took up with the resistance movement, and changed her name. Captured in 1944, Selma maintained her alter identity until after the war. My Name Is Selma is the memoir of a woman, forced to live under extreme circumstances. Her strength and determination, despite difficult and dire situations, are admirable qualities. The book is well organized and shows the progression of Selma's mindset throughout the war. Many of the descriptions of events are matter-of-fact, though I can only surmise the actual emotions that the memories invoke. Readers who are interested in the memoirs of survivors of war will like My Name Is Selma. Disclaimer: I was given an Advanced Reader's copy of My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor by NetGalley and the publisher, Scribner. The decision to review this book was entirely my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ilan Israel

    Resistance worker and Holocaust camp survivor tells her heroic story I’m no stranger to Holocaust literature, but this woman Selma’s story is different. She spent much of the Second World War in her native Netherlands as a Dutch resistance worker, living under an assumed identity until she was caught and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp for women, where miraculously she survived and after the war was sent to England where she was reunited with her two older brothers who were serving in the Resistance worker and Holocaust camp survivor tells her heroic story I’m no stranger to Holocaust literature, but this woman Selma’s story is different. She spent much of the Second World War in her native Netherlands as a Dutch resistance worker, living under an assumed identity until she was caught and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp for women, where miraculously she survived and after the war was sent to England where she was reunited with her two older brothers who were serving in the British forces. She later finds out that her mother and sister had been murdered by the Nazis in one camp, and that her father had been murdered in Auschwitz. Many other relatives lost their lives in the Holocaust. She recounts in detail her wartime experiences and then relates how she managed to put her life together after the war, despite her loss and her own horrific experience. This is a very powerful memoir, written by a woman in her late nineties with honesty and modesty, recalling that she played a small part with many others in resisting the Nazis, who destroyed her country of birth while decimating its Jewish citizens.

  28. 4 out of 5

    No Books

    My Name is Selma is a memoir. But I’m hesitant to use that word. I read a lot of memoirs, I enjoy the insight and the character development that comes from hearing history from someone who lived through it; someone who, despite it all, survived. • This book was incredible. It didn’t feel like I was reading, I felt that I was sitting with Selma, a cup of tea in hand, listening to her story. The story of her life in the Netherlands during the occupation. • Selma was 20 when she found herself alone a My Name is Selma is a memoir. But I’m hesitant to use that word. I read a lot of memoirs, I enjoy the insight and the character development that comes from hearing history from someone who lived through it; someone who, despite it all, survived. • This book was incredible. It didn’t feel like I was reading, I felt that I was sitting with Selma, a cup of tea in hand, listening to her story. The story of her life in the Netherlands during the occupation. • Selma was 20 when she found herself alone and working for the Resistance, her family had been split, her brothers in different arms of the army, her father moved to a ‘work’ camp and her mother and sister in hiding. She worked for the resistance for years until an oversight landed her in in prison. Throughout, Selma’s story there is a constant undertone of hope, a demand to survive. • I know it’s hard to put a star rating on non-fiction so I won’t, but I am highly recommending it to all of you. If you want to read something uplifting, horrific but uplifting all the same, read this. And treasure Selma Van De Perre.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Selma is "one of the few Dutch Jewish survivors of the Second World War," and this is her story as part of the Resistance and as a woman in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, the only one exclusively for women. This book taught me about the Jewish Resistance, which I wasn't aware of, and I also wasn't aware of a concentration camp only for women. Truth be told it's not a topic I usually search for, but I think the reason why I choose to read and review this book was Selma's face (as a 98-year ol Selma is "one of the few Dutch Jewish survivors of the Second World War," and this is her story as part of the Resistance and as a woman in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, the only one exclusively for women. This book taught me about the Jewish Resistance, which I wasn't aware of, and I also wasn't aware of a concentration camp only for women. Truth be told it's not a topic I usually search for, but I think the reason why I choose to read and review this book was Selma's face (as a 98-year old now) on the cover. I wanted to know her story. As for the book, it reads well and I devoured it in one day. However, if it tried to keep the reader tense, for me it failed to do so, for example in the missions she fulfills as part of the Resistance. The book reads as a series of anecdotes, and there are so many names I kept losing track of who's who. Having said that, Selma’s story is one of courage and, as she says herself, luck, and the horrors she portrays should not be forgotten. Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    My Name is Selma by Selma van de Perre is an excellent and stunning memoir by a woman that has literally been through the bottoms of the earth and back. A Jewish woman that survived being prisoner at Ravensbruck by being able to hide her nationality and religion, the loss of her parents, and a former resistance fighter, Selma has literally experienced it all and risked everything. Being able to read her story, her struggle, her faith, her strength, and her survival was something I will treasure My Name is Selma by Selma van de Perre is an excellent and stunning memoir by a woman that has literally been through the bottoms of the earth and back. A Jewish woman that survived being prisoner at Ravensbruck by being able to hide her nationality and religion, the loss of her parents, and a former resistance fighter, Selma has literally experienced it all and risked everything. Being able to read her story, her struggle, her faith, her strength, and her survival was something I will treasure forever. To see someone that was able to survive to tell her story when so many, including my own distant relatives, could not, means so much to us. It helps solidify my faith and hope for a future where no one should have to experience this. I am speechless and awed. Thank you Selma for telling us your story. 5/5 stars Thank you EW and Scribner for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

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