Home Biography Books Blog Awards Lectures In Progress Contact


Email Me Now

  At the Mercy of Strangers

At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing up on the Edge of the Holocaust
By Suzanne Loebl (Pacifica Press, 1997)

“1998 Best Book for the Teen Age” choice of the New York Public Library

Der Endlose Krieg: Jugend am Rande des Holocausts

This German translation (2006) is available from the Scheunen-Verlag, Kolonie 4 1317 Kükenshagen, Germany
Email: scheunen-verlag@t-online.de

At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust is a thank you to the righteous Christians who helped Suzanne Loebl survive the Holocaust as a hidden child in Belgium during World War II.

For Jews trapped in Western Europe during World War II, survival depended largely on where they lived. Belgians did a lot to save its Jews. At the heart of At the Mercy of Strangers is the account of how Suzanne Bamberger, her mother and sister managed to be among those lucky enough to survive in Brussels.

At the Mercy of Strangers is uplifting even though it never minimizes the horrors of the Holocaust, or of World War II. Suzanne’s mature self summarizes her feelings:

“I never regretted growing up at the edge of the Holocaust. It made me a stronger, more compassionate, human being. And strange as it might sound, the experience provided me with a deep faith in humanity. Though there is much evidence to the contrary, I believe that when you have your back against the wall, somebody out there may come to the rescue.

“But I know how lucky I was. My family escaped intact. … I well remember the fears, the nightmares, the death of loved one, the loneliness, the helplessness, and being at the mercy of strangers and informers. … I still feel the extreme frustration of being powerless in the face of mortal danger. Yet I did not have to witness the horrors of the camps, the trips to the gas chamber; share the long death marches, or suffer from extreme cold, hunger, or illness. I did not have to steal bread from my dying parent or make other inhuman decisions that forever after would have haunted my days and nights.”

At The Mercy of Strangers is an ideal tool for teaching young adults about the Holocaust and World War II.

Lecture: A Personal Story of Holocaust Survival written and delivered by Suzanne Loebl and tailored to specific audiences can be booked. Lectures to schools are provided free of charge.

Reviewers’ Comments

“… I could relate strongly to [Loebl’s] needs and desires, so normal for a young girl that even the daily fear of death couldn’t erase them. This could have been me— or you. … While non-Jewish people helped her by giving her domestic work and pretending she was not Jewish, Loebl found the strength deep within herself.”

—Antoinette Bosco, The Catholic Free Press
“… This is a marvelous coming-of-age memoir of a German-Jewish refugee who spends her adolescent years with forged papers as a servant and later as a governess in the home of a series of Christian … families while eluding the Nazi occupiers of Belgium in World War II. … A talented, prize-winning non-fiction writer, Loebl describes scenes of wartime life …with clarity, pathos and sometimes humor.”
—Marcia W. Posner, The Jewish Book World

“… Like Anne Frank, another hidden teenager and diarist, Loebl recorded her romantic obsessions, day-to-day events and her frustration with the war. … Her experience as a hidden teenager during the Shoah taught her and unexpected lesson: Have faith in humanity.”

—Sarah Horowitz, The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California

Return to Top of Page