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The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive

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A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to desi A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.  This fashion workshop—called the Upper Tailoring Studio—was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.  Drawing on diverse sources—including interviews with the last surviving seamstress—The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution, but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, historian Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of World War II and the Holocaust.


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A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to desi A powerful chronicle of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps.  At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.  This fashion workshop—called the Upper Tailoring Studio—was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.  Drawing on diverse sources—including interviews with the last surviving seamstress—The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution, but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, historian Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of World War II and the Holocaust.

30 review for The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    Lucy Adlington shines a spotlight on a little known group of Auschwitz-Birkenau inmates who sewed in a ‘fashion salon’ established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charge of the death camp. Her exhaustive research includes an interview with Mrs Kohut (98) in San Francisco, the last surviving dressmaker of Auschwitz. The book explains how these 25 women came together through the most terrible circumstances of camp life and their stories personalise something so huge it’s still har Lucy Adlington shines a spotlight on a little known group of Auschwitz-Birkenau inmates who sewed in a ‘fashion salon’ established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charge of the death camp. Her exhaustive research includes an interview with Mrs Kohut (98) in San Francisco, the last surviving dressmaker of Auschwitz. The book explains how these 25 women came together through the most terrible circumstances of camp life and their stories personalise something so huge it’s still hard to get your head around even after all those years. These women were part of ‘Obere Nähstube‘ -Upper Tailoring Studio - under the supervision of Marta Fuchs who uses her ‘privilege ‘ to help other inmates. Their stories demonstrated the close bonds of family and nationality and how you couldn’t kill friendship and loyalty. Under Marta this disparate group became experts with the needle, producing excellent work for the wives of Nazi elite and in the process became an extended family. There are numerous photographs of these woman, some before the war which are especially poignant, breaking your heart as they showed happy times before their worlds imploded. This is an extensively and exhaustively well researched piece of work that is written in a very accessible way. The background on Rudolf and Hedwig Höss from their marriage in 1929 is infused with the lives of the dressmakers giving a chilling insight into rising racial tension and provides a thought provoking and terrifying contrast. The contradictory attitudes of Höss come across strongly too as do Hedwig’s. The author does a great job at giving all involved a sense of their character which is a remarkable achievement. There is interesting background on high fashion and local dressmakers and dressmaking and some good illustrations of fashion of the time. The regime wanted Berlin to become the centre of fashion rather than Paris and image via smart clothing was seen as being extremely important. Yet most clothing and chain stores were Jewish (80%) which were of course destroyed and thus Jewish women such as these planned a mode of survival utilising their skills with the needle. We get a step by step build up via these women of the increasing Nazi yoke, with concentration camps and the Final Solution. Some of the dressmaker women worked in Kanada before transferring to the tailoring studio and this is very chilling with some of the horrifying discoveries they made. Overall, inevitably this is a tough read. I did know that this group of women existed as I’d read a book about Rudolf and Hedwig Höss but no more than that. This is well worth reading to gain further insight into a little known aspect of the ruthless regime and is testament to the power of resistance no matter how small and to human resilience. What an absolutely amazing group of women. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Hodder and Stoughton and the author for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    Even though I've read extensively on the Holocaust, I'd never heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. These prisoners were drafted by camp commandant Hoss's wife, Hedwig, to sew custom fashions for herself, and her friends and family in the small tailoring studio. Many horrifying details of the camp are included, which are of course very difficult to read, but the perseverance of this small group of seamstresses is amazing. (Sadly, many of the items they sewed were repurposed from clothing confis Even though I've read extensively on the Holocaust, I'd never heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. These prisoners were drafted by camp commandant Hoss's wife, Hedwig, to sew custom fashions for herself, and her friends and family in the small tailoring studio. Many horrifying details of the camp are included, which are of course very difficult to read, but the perseverance of this small group of seamstresses is amazing. (Sadly, many of the items they sewed were repurposed from clothing confiscated from prisoners headed to the Auschwitz gas chambers.) The author was able to meet with the last surviving woman of this group, and related what happened to each one after the camp was liberated. I'm grateful to Edelweiss and the publisher for allowing me to review this advance copy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    “We shake hands. At that moment history becomes real life, not just the archives, book stacks, fashion drawings, and fluid fabrics that are my usual historical sources for writing and presenting. I am meeting a woman who has survived a time and place now synonymous with horror.” LUCY ADLINGTON Thank you Lucy Adlington and Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book. It hits shelves on September 14th! The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington is an account of the true story of the wo “We shake hands. At that moment history becomes real life, not just the archives, book stacks, fashion drawings, and fluid fabrics that are my usual historical sources for writing and presenting. I am meeting a woman who has survived a time and place now synonymous with horror.” LUCY ADLINGTON Thank you Lucy Adlington and Harper Perennial for the opportunity to read this book. It hits shelves on September 14th! The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington is an account of the true story of the women who sewed to survive. Author Lucy Adlington met with Bracha Kohut, one of the 25 women who sewed clothes for top SS wives, including Hedwig Hoss, who was the wife of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss. Auschwitz was transformed from an army barracks to a prisoner-of-war camp in September 1939. It wasn’t long before it became a death camp. 1.3 million people entered Auschwitz and 1.1 million were killed. At the height of the Nazi Occupation, SS wives were supposed to be “ideal ladies.” They needed to be supporters of their husbands but clothing was also a symbol of their status. While Auschwitz was a death camp, but the Nazis used those imprisoned there for labor. Hedwig Hoss started a fashion workshop which was called the Upper Tailoring Studio. The women forced to work in this workshop sewed to stay alive, but also used their positions to help and save as many as they possibly could. “…the Auschwitz dressmaking salon became a refuge, saving seamstresses, and non-sewers alike. Marta’s wider involvement in resistance runs like silvery threads through the murky weave of Auschwitz life.” THE DRESSMAKERS OF AUSCHWITZ Trigger Warnings: torture, abuse, The Holocaust, trauma, antisemitism Lucy Adlington is a costume historian and her research led her to this remarkable group of women. I wrote a lot of papers in college regarding Nazi Germany, mainly the Jewish Resistance Forest camps, so I was intrigued to learn about a part of history that I was not aware of previously. Fashion and clothing were exclusively used to show who belonged where. Once in the camps, their baggage was taken from them but told that it would be protected. They were then stripped and thoroughly investigated and then given rags to wear. This dehumanized them immediately. Their baggage was actually handled with strict authority as the Third Reich plundered all the belongings. When Hedwig Hoss wanted her fashions, the salon started. These women took care of each other. They knew they were given an opportunity and they did what they needed to do to survive but also help those around them. The book does start out slow, but then I could not put it down. I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I read about the liberation and their adjustment to freedom. This place was hell. The people in charge were evil, but so were the people, specifically the wives, who tolerated it. There aren’t words to describe the despicable actions of Hedwig Hoss. She wanted to maintain a certain lifestyle and used those imprisoned to work so she could maintain that lifestyle. While working in the salon saved their lives, Hoss knew what was happening in Auschwitz. In fact, the gas chambers and crematoriums were not far from her home. But here is the thing, Hedwig’s salon didn’t save their lives. She didn’t care about whether they lived or died. The women who worked in the salon saved their own lives. There are portions of this book that will make you sick to your stomach. We have all learned about the Holocaust, but it is always horrifying, no matter how many times you read about it. But these women are inspiring to face such atrocity and torture with so much courage. It was an honor to read about them. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is Nonfiction/WWII. I didn't know this was nonfiction when I picked it up. I was expecting historical fiction. I need to read subtitles. However, with that said, I really enjoyed this one. Not once did I feel like it was putting me to sleep. I've never heard about the dressmakers who spent their days in Auschwitz making dresses/fashion for the officers wives and their children. The author did so much research; it really felt like a labor of love. And the story of these women just reeled me This is Nonfiction/WWII. I didn't know this was nonfiction when I picked it up. I was expecting historical fiction. I need to read subtitles. However, with that said, I really enjoyed this one. Not once did I feel like it was putting me to sleep. I've never heard about the dressmakers who spent their days in Auschwitz making dresses/fashion for the officers wives and their children. The author did so much research; it really felt like a labor of love. And the story of these women just reeled me right in. So 4 stars for this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I'll be honest, going into this book, I thought it was historical fiction - clearly, I didn't look at the full title. Despite this actually being non-fiction, something I rarely read, I breezed through this harrowing story of twenty-five women who sewed for their survival. The author breaks this book into three parts: Before the Nazi occupation. The individual journeys these women took to Auschwitz and how they became part of this sewing workshop. Life after Auschwitz, for those that survived. While I'll be honest, going into this book, I thought it was historical fiction - clearly, I didn't look at the full title. Despite this actually being non-fiction, something I rarely read, I breezed through this harrowing story of twenty-five women who sewed for their survival. The author breaks this book into three parts: Before the Nazi occupation. The individual journeys these women took to Auschwitz and how they became part of this sewing workshop. Life after Auschwitz, for those that survived. While this story lacked some of the emotional content that I crave from fictional stories, it was impossible not to be drawn in by the abuse these women faced, and the steps they took to survive daily. Since my knowledge of the atrocities Jewish people faced during this time, were previously limited to what I learned in school and watched in movies, I was unaware how deep Nazi greed was during that time. It wasn't enough for the Nazis to pillage homes and to steal all of the possessions of those entering the camp. Even though they had a deep hatred of Jews, SS soldiers and their wives also used them for their own betterment, treating them as slaves. This is how this sewing workshop, known the Upper Tailoring Studio was formed by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife. Given the labor options available to those at the camps, this was the least harrowing of tasks. Together, these women bonded and protected each other, working long hours for the chance to wake up another day and start all over. Overall, the author did a great job of not only providing detailed accounts of the individual journeys of these women but put all of the information together in a way that flowed, making it an engrossing read. For more reviews, visit

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Greer- Hansen

    Just when you think there is no information that could no longer surprise you regarding the Holocaust; you regrettably find out you are wrong. This story highlights the brave women who were the dressmakers of the Nazis zoning in under the authority of the brutal Mrs. Hedwig Hoss. The details are horrendous as one would expect. The details are moving. This was a more factual read than, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, but both reads I highly recommend. “Marta made a joke about her camp tattoo number 2 Just when you think there is no information that could no longer surprise you regarding the Holocaust; you regrettably find out you are wrong. This story highlights the brave women who were the dressmakers of the Nazis zoning in under the authority of the brutal Mrs. Hedwig Hoss. The details are horrendous as one would expect. The details are moving. This was a more factual read than, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, but both reads I highly recommend. “Marta made a joke about her camp tattoo number 2043. When her grandchildren asked, “What is that?”, she answered, ‘God’s telephone number.’ “

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sandra "Jeanz"

    After having read this author’s other book which is fictional and called The Red Ribbon as soon as I heard about this non-fiction title, I knew I had to read it. I love that the cover of the book, it’s not a typical cover of this era and setting, there is not oppressive image of Auschwitz or its famous gate. The by-line of the book really sums up in a very simplistic sentence why these women survived. I do not really know why I have such a deep-seated pull, and compelling desire to read books abo After having read this author’s other book which is fictional and called The Red Ribbon as soon as I heard about this non-fiction title, I knew I had to read it. I love that the cover of the book, it’s not a typical cover of this era and setting, there is not oppressive image of Auschwitz or its famous gate. The by-line of the book really sums up in a very simplistic sentence why these women survived. I do not really know why I have such a deep-seated pull, and compelling desire to read books about the Holocaust, other than I think what happened to these people who were just like anyone else were suddenly chosen, isolated and put under such horrendous daily torture just because of their religion, really deserve to have their stories read, remembered and passed on to every other generation to follow. A lesson needs to be learnt from these historical facts, memoirs and even the fictionalised stories aet at this time too. I really loved how Lucy introduces Mrs Kohut, a 98 year old woman, who is the last surviving dressmaker from the fashion salon created at Auschwitz concentration camp. I don’t know if was done intentionally or not but by not giving the first name of Mrs Kohut as a reader you end up reading the events that happened not knowing which person is Mrs Kohut. You find out much later into the story. Referring back to the by-line of the book, “The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive” as it was the simple fact, they could sew that saved their lives. Saying that it doesn’t mean these ladies had a much smoother or easier life within Auschwitz. They were still subjected to the same horrific conditions and being under the constant fear of being noticed and punished for some minor infraction on the rules the Nazis made. Or even just beaten and tortured because a Nazis officer felt like it. They were also answerable and in danger from even “one of their own” put in charge of either their work detail or the building they slept in referred to as their Kapo. It seems ironic that the Nazis men and women (as there were female guards at the concentration camps too) wanted to rid the world of the whole Jewish race, made them surrender businesses and all possessions of any value, yet found it acceptable to take a few women who could sew and have them make clothes for them. The Nazis valued clothing highly. The author shares the fact Eva Braun, first Hitlers mistress then later wife, actually had her wedding dress delivered across a burning Berlin just days before their suicides to wear with her designer shoes. Joseph Goebbels wife, Magda is quoted as having said “What a nuisance that Kohnen is closing . . . we all know that when the Jews go, so will the elegance from Berlin. These women, Emmy Goering, Hedwig Hensel-Hoss and Magda Goebbels, knew about the victimisation of the Jewish people yet decided the best way to cope with this knowledge was to turn away from it. Though these women and their men were realising that a lot of industries, including the clothing industry were heavily, reliant on a Jewish workforce. There were a lot of “shops” created within the concentration camps that the Jewish prisoners worked in as well as doing the outside heavier manual laboured jobs too. There was a furrier’s cutting shop at Ravensbruck. The furs were recut and made into items such as jackets and gloves for the soldiers. The women working often split seams and hems whilst altering the items and found jewellery and valuable that had been hidden. Though Hedwig Hensel-Hoss, wife of the man in charge of Auschwitz, Rudolph Hoss is credited as creating a small fashion salon for the wives of the Nazis elite, when reading the details Lucy has researched and listened to from Mrs Kohut it was truly the invention of a sharp, quick witted woman called Marta who had been working as a dressmaker for Hedwig. Marta used her own opportunity to help other less fortunate in the camp. Marta managed to get agreement for another seamstress. When other SS wives saw the garment’s Hedwig was having made, they became envious. Hedwig then went on to expand her attic sewing shop into a select fashion salon. There were many that could sew, in fact figures state that out of ten thousand women there must have been at least five hundred. Marta used her own position to suggest and choose other women she could depend upon to sew. Such as a woman called Irene who was chosen because Irene’s brother Laci had married Marta’s sister Turulka. So, Irene was chosen, then Irene suggested her good friend Bracha. Bracha was chosen and revealed she had a sister who could sew and on and on it went. Lucy reveals there were 25 young girls and women that ended up working in Hedwig’s fashion salon. The author Lucy had already done a lot of research about the dressmakers for her fictional book The Red Ribbon, and had found just an incomplete list of female names, Irene, Renee, Bracha, Katka, Hunya, Mimi, Manci, Marta, Olga, Alida, Marilou, Lulu, Baba and Boriskha. Lucy thought she had found out all she was going to about these women until her book actually released and she began being contacted the families of these women. Suddenly Lucy found herself with a new wealth of information. As Lucy did more research and discovered more details and met Mrs Kohut, she shares all her discoveries with us the reader in this book. It’s hard to describe how I felt reading this book, I found it difficult to read about the way these innocent young girls and women were treat by the Nazis and their sympathisers. At times it really had me questioning if I wanted to read such a truthful, bluntly honest book about the realities of the harsh conditions these women tried to survive within. Then I became angry with myself, in that all the horror these women were put through and I was feeling saddened reading about it. What on earth did those young girls and women feel every day, day in day out, wondering where the next morsel of food was coming from and when the next beating, or the last call to be sent to their death would be. I strongly believe these books need to be written, and read and continue to be remembered, talked about and lessons learnt. If its not the wrong thing to say I honestly ended up “enjoying” discovering more about these women, the real women and their names behind the fictional story Lucy wrote based her book The Red Ribbon on. I could go on and on talking about this book, but it needs to be read by as many people as possible, so I will say I have only scratched the surface of the book in my review. I also know I rattle on and on when I read books set in this era, saying these are the titles that should be on school reading lists, discussed and talked about in schools, but I believe that to be right. These atrocities should never be allowed to occur again. My immediate thoughts on this book were thank goodness there were prisoners such as Marta who thought quickly and managed to make Frau Hoss think it was all her own idea to open a fashion salon, and use free Jewish labour. I love how Marta's quick thinking saved lives. Sure, it was people she knew from her own town etc but you can understand her wanting people who she knew that were reliable after all it was her neck on the line too!!" To sum up, this book is an amazing read, brilliantly written account using extensive research and first-hand accounts from the very last surviving dressmaker of Auschwitz. The book left me feeling like I wanted to reach through the book and hug Mrs Kohut, to thank her for sharing her story. How must she feel being the last one alive, had she already told her family about what she went through and how she managed despite the odds to survive. I am not ashamed to say the book had me in tears, especially when I thought had Lucy not written The Red Ribbon, that the true story of the Dressmakers of Auschwitz may never have been fully told. My final, final words on the book have to be that it really is a very moving, emotional read, told in a sometimes brutally honest, non-romanticised way, that tells the truth of some of the Holocaust horrors inflicted on a group of amazing, determined to survive women.

  8. 5 out of 5

    K Marcu

    Very well researched, providing detailed & personal information about a previously unknown women. Author wrote in a respectful, delicate manner giving tribute to each woman.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carla Johnson-Hicks

    This is the true story of a group of women who survived Auschwitz because of their sewing and tailoring skills. Even though this is non-fiction, it reads like historical fiction. During WWII, where Jewish persons were being exterminated, twenty-five young inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charg This is the true story of a group of women who survived Auschwitz because of their sewing and tailoring skills. Even though this is non-fiction, it reads like historical fiction. During WWII, where Jewish persons were being exterminated, twenty-five young inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp—mainly Jewish women and girls—were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon established by Hedwig Höss, wife of Rudolf the SS Officer in charge of the death camp. If a new worker was needed, family or friends of those already working in he Upper Tailoring Studio, were given a job and a chance to live longer. This is an extensively and exhaustively well researched piece of work including interviews with the last surviving seamstress. The story begins with the Nazi Party's rise to power, the implementation of their policies for plunder and exploitation and continuing on with deportations, work details and the murders of so many Jewish and other prisoners. I did not know anything about this group of women and found it very interesting to learn about their trials and their chance to survive the Holocaust. Lucy Adlington wrote and narrated this book. She does a good job reading this book with expression and emotion. I definitely recommend this one to those who want to learn more about some of the survivors of the Nazi's Final Solution. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A DNF for me. If you are into fashion and design this is the book for you! I understand it is a true story and a "chronicle" of the stories of a number of women, but for me, it read too much like a history text book. That, combined with the fashion and design theme, a theme that does not hold much interest for me, the book just did not grab me. I gave it a little over a 100 pages and just decided it wasn't for me. A DNF for me. If you are into fashion and design this is the book for you! I understand it is a true story and a "chronicle" of the stories of a number of women, but for me, it read too much like a history text book. That, combined with the fashion and design theme, a theme that does not hold much interest for me, the book just did not grab me. I gave it a little over a 100 pages and just decided it wasn't for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jess Munnery

    Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an early copy of this book via NetGalley. I want to preface by saying it was extremely unlike me to request this kind of book. I'm not a big reader of non-fiction unless it's my studying. I am not a history fan and especially likely to avoid any subject of the second World War. I moved schools and ended up studying it three separate times, all of which were desperately boring and ended up putting me off the subject of history completely. So t Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an early copy of this book via NetGalley. I want to preface by saying it was extremely unlike me to request this kind of book. I'm not a big reader of non-fiction unless it's my studying. I am not a history fan and especially likely to avoid any subject of the second World War. I moved schools and ended up studying it three separate times, all of which were desperately boring and ended up putting me off the subject of history completely. So the fact that this pulled my attention is, quite frankly, a small miracle! I love how this book came in to being with Adlington's other non-fiction and fiction previous publications. It's certainly plenty of time to research and build the span of knowledge shown on the Upper Tailoring Studio and it's attendants. Adlington doesn't just give us the view of Auschwitz but takes us from the beginning of the Nazi's impact on the fashion industry. How businesses were uprooted and handed over, how the armbands came in to being and how Jews were stripped of all they had before they even reached the concentration camps. There is so much more to the build up towards the concentration camps than I realised. Adlington has done extensive research in to the dressmakers as well and gives us plenty of insight to their lives before the Upper Tailoring Studio. Their families, their plans, their skills. It's truly impressive how much she's found. When we reach Auschwitz it is some time before the Upper Tailoring Studio is formed, the dressmakers arrive at different times for different reasons. They experience horrors and talk of the general life of Auschwitz and the various other horrible work they endured there. I was also shocked to see mentioned that the idea of the gas chambers came from the treatment of lice. I do question this as I tried to look it up later and found very little answers, the only mention of the same method being conspiracies that the Holocaust never happened. Not a great source to have any kind of connection to but a fantastic insight all the same. There are chapters post-Auschwitz, not for all the dressmakers and not all that make it fully through the chapters. It's fascinating to see how their experiences differed after the war. There is a real load of interesting information about a largely unexplored detail of Auschwitz here however. I feel like we really didn't hear very much about working in the Upper Tailoring Studio. It's formed, part of the resistance and then over very quickly. I would have liked to hear more about their working conditions and any further stories it feels like there are. True to the title however this is about the dressmakers and their story rather than the studio itself. I really enjoyed Adlington's writing, informative but still interesting. Well paced within in each chapter and an excellent introduction. This renewed my interest in one day making a trip to Auschwitz, I'm convinced it's an experience we should all have given it's still such recent history. I'll be glad to have the nuggets of information from this book when I do.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caren

    In Lucy Adlington’s introduction to this intriguing story, she affirmed that “this book is [the] history…not a novelisation” of the women who sewed for the Nazis in the Upper Tailoring Studio in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her intimate account of a group of women whose lives were saved because of their dressmaking skills presents a glimpse into an aspect of the Nazi victimisation of women, particularly, that is little known. As a “clothes historian”, Adlington is meticulous in her rec In Lucy Adlington’s introduction to this intriguing story, she affirmed that “this book is [the] history…not a novelisation” of the women who sewed for the Nazis in the Upper Tailoring Studio in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her intimate account of a group of women whose lives were saved because of their dressmaking skills presents a glimpse into an aspect of the Nazi victimisation of women, particularly, that is little known. As a “clothes historian”, Adlington is meticulous in her recounting of the women’s experiences designing, cutting and sewing high fashion garments for the wives of the Nazi officers. Clear in her portrait is the exploitative and cruel behaviour of these wives, who mirrored the abusive attitudes of their Nazi husbands and saw the prisoners as “vermin” and “subhuman”. Most despicable among the wives was Hedwig Hoss, wife of commandant Rudolph Hoss, who established the workshop and, without conscience or humanity, plundered the storehouse of garments collected from the camps’ victims to be refashioned by the creative talents of the prisoners who avoided the gas chambers because of their sewing skills. The group of women included in Adlington’s accounts featured Irene, Bracha and her sister, Katka, Hunya, and Marta, whose strong friendships inspired them to remain resilient and to believe in their ability to survive. The reader cannot help but be disgusted by the greed and hypocrisy portrayed in the profiles of the Nazi wives, particularly, who allowed themselves to enjoy their entitlement to rich food, superb housing and gardens, silks, furs, warm and elegant clothing, while those who created these garments for them were starving, often ill, freezing to death in their inadequate rags, and subject to harsh punishments back in their barracks. I welcomed the author’s focus on the resistance activities of the women as the myth continues to be debunked in recent publications that the Jews went “like sheep to the slaughter”. Adlington presented a unique perspective of the Holocaust with her focus on clothing as a metaphor for so much more. Compelling.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Marie

    “Their words, their stitches, their stories must not be forgotten.” Thank you @harperperennial for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! (publication date: September 14, 2021) I have read many books about World War II and The Holocaust, both nonfiction and historical fiction, but reading this nonfiction text was the first time I’ve heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. I applaud Lucy Adlington for all of the research she did to tell us the story of these resilient women, both who s “Their words, their stitches, their stories must not be forgotten.” Thank you @harperperennial for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! (publication date: September 14, 2021) I have read many books about World War II and The Holocaust, both nonfiction and historical fiction, but reading this nonfiction text was the first time I’ve heard of the dressmakers of Auschwitz. I applaud Lucy Adlington for all of the research she did to tell us the story of these resilient women, both who survived and who were killed, during the inhumane, unjust, evil genocide. There were 25 women total who made up the group of dressmakers at Auschwitz, and Lucy Adlington focuses on the stories of these women before, during, and after The Holocaust. Bracha Kohút was the only dressmaker still alive when Lucy Adlington was researching, and she uses a lot of Bracha’s experiences and memories throughout the book. This is such an informative, well-researched, and important read about the group of prisoners who were dressmakers in the Auschwitz concentration camp. I definitely recommend this book. Synopsis: Lucy Adlington tells the true story of a group of girls and young women during the Holocaust. Twenty-five prisoners in Auschwitz were selected to be dressmakers for the Nazis and their families- the people holding them captive, the people who killed and would continue to kill their family and friends. Their stories are shared with information from diverse sources, including interviews with the last surviving dressmaker.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tatyana (The Literature Llama)

    This was a well complied story of some very brave and clever woman. I thought when I first read the synopsis that this was historical fiction, I clearly did not read the entire title when I read it online, but being a non-fiction recount of the these events made this book even more captivating. There is so much information and clear research that went into the making of this book and it makes everything all the more interesting and answers any questions you had. There were some parts where I fel This was a well complied story of some very brave and clever woman. I thought when I first read the synopsis that this was historical fiction, I clearly did not read the entire title when I read it online, but being a non-fiction recount of the these events made this book even more captivating. There is so much information and clear research that went into the making of this book and it makes everything all the more interesting and answers any questions you had. There were some parts where I felt I had to go back and remember the origins of each woman mentioned that slightly confused me, but overall this is a harrowing tale that truly brings to light the horrors that these women faced and endured. Really great for anyone!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Kristens.reading.nook

    Most of us know that those who had jobs in Auschwitz had a bit of an easier time surviving the hell they were living through. They had some benefits that others were not afforded. As the name describes, this book tells the story of some of the women who were seamstresses in the labor camp. It was fascinating learning about the fashion of the time, from the Jewish people to the Nazis. This book is so well researched and includes pictures and letters from the time. I highly recommend the paper ver Most of us know that those who had jobs in Auschwitz had a bit of an easier time surviving the hell they were living through. They had some benefits that others were not afforded. As the name describes, this book tells the story of some of the women who were seamstresses in the labor camp. It was fascinating learning about the fashion of the time, from the Jewish people to the Nazis. This book is so well researched and includes pictures and letters from the time. I highly recommend the paper version of this one so you don’t miss out on those. Thank you to HarperCollins and Harper Audio for an ARC and ALC in exchange for my honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I have been on a WWII binge for the last decade. I am so glad to have read about a little-known part of history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tina Panik

    Read this with the same reverence with which Adlington created it. Then cry, and share this story with everyone you know. This was an ARC.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    An emotionally difficult read about seamstresses in concentration camps and what they did to try to keep themselves and others alive. Well-researched/well-interviewed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Davies

    This is quite a slow start as it takes over 100 pages for the girls to even enter Auschwitz and then another 100 to talk about the Upper Tailoring Studio/dressmaking salon. Even so there was some rather interesting and gross facts inside such as the Nazis used inmates hair to make fabric and even used human skin as leather to make gloves, slippers and bags!!! It also had random quotes in the middle of chapters that don't always seem to have an immediate connection with what the previous paragrap This is quite a slow start as it takes over 100 pages for the girls to even enter Auschwitz and then another 100 to talk about the Upper Tailoring Studio/dressmaking salon. Even so there was some rather interesting and gross facts inside such as the Nazis used inmates hair to make fabric and even used human skin as leather to make gloves, slippers and bags!!! It also had random quotes in the middle of chapters that don't always seem to have an immediate connection with what the previous paragraph has spoken about which interrupted the flow quite a lot. It has also made me think about fashion as a whole considering Hugo Boss, C&A and Triumph all profiteered from Jewish slave labour in the Ghettos. Overall this was an interesting read but by the time I eventually got into it, it was over with.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Davies

    This is quite a slow start as it takes over 100 pages for the girls to even enter Auschwitz and then another 100 to talk about the Upper Tailoring Studio/dressmaking salon. Even so there was some rather interesting and gross facts inside such as the Nazis used inmates hair to make fabric and even used human skin as leather to make gloves, slippers and bags!!! It also had random quotes in the middle of chapters that don't always seem to have an immediate connection with what the previous paragrap This is quite a slow start as it takes over 100 pages for the girls to even enter Auschwitz and then another 100 to talk about the Upper Tailoring Studio/dressmaking salon. Even so there was some rather interesting and gross facts inside such as the Nazis used inmates hair to make fabric and even used human skin as leather to make gloves, slippers and bags!!! It also had random quotes in the middle of chapters that don't always seem to have an immediate connection with what the previous paragraph has spoken about which interrupted the flow quite a lot. It has also made me think about fashion as a whole considering Hugo Boss, C&A and Triumph all profiteered from Jewish slave labour in the Ghettos. Overall this was an interesting read but by the time I eventually got into it, it was over with.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington will stay in my heart for a long, long time. A true story, this riveting account of twenty-five inmate seamstresses reveals yet another crevice of life in Auschwitz. Adlington does a masterful job in bringing this amazing story to life. No one escapes the “Customary Reception” to Auschwitz. If they survive the selection, they are stripped naked, tattooed, shaved, and thrown into lice- “Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp The Dressmakers of Auschwitz by Lucy Adlington will stay in my heart for a long, long time. A true story, this riveting account of twenty-five inmate seamstresses reveals yet another crevice of life in Auschwitz. Adlington does a masterful job in bringing this amazing story to life. No one escapes the “Customary Reception” to Auschwitz. If they survive the selection, they are stripped naked, tattooed, shaved, and thrown into lice-ridden barracks. Each day, they assigned to a kommando (work team). Most jobs were back-breaking hard labor causing them “to be submerged in exhaustion.” (pg. 143). “In Auschwitz, all routes seemed to lead to death. If sickness and hunger did not kill them the brutal work conditions would.” (pg. 146) One of the better assignments is to work in the Sewing Factory where in 12-hour shifts, starving inmates sew German uniforms. However, even there, the woman are regularly beaten. However, fellow seamstresses form friendships. A few are fortunate to be assigned jobs in Kanada, the vast depository of prisoners’ clothes and belongings packed in suitcases or worn prior to execution. Valuables such as jewels, cash, and gold are sent to Berlin. Shoes are refurbished and shipped to Germany. Up to twenty trains filled with goods left each day to be sold on the black market. Even shorn hair is sold by the pound to textile companies. Marta Fuchs, a dressmaker by trade, is eventually assigned to be a maid for Commandant Hoss and his family. When her sewing skills are revealed she became the Hoss family seamstress. Eventually a “fashion salon” is established by Hedwig Hoss and more women seamstress friends are hand selected by Marta to work in the Upper Tailoring Studio. While prisoners die or are murdered by the thousands per day, the Commandant’s wife Hedwig enjoys wearing elegant fashions made by the seamstresses. SS Officers wives also enjoy wearing the height of fashion. Their lifestyle is that of the rich and privileged. This incredible story highlights the life-altering bonds of friendship. Adlington gives us an insider view of the plunder and exploitation of the Nazi’s. We also see the hypocrisy of the lifestyles of the SS versus the inhumane conditions in the camp. I chose the Tharp quote because it is true – creating art does take one away to another place. I am sure that the dressmakers of Auschwitz had that feeling and it was a major factor in their fate.

  22. 5 out of 5

    BOOKLOVER EB

    A prodigious amount of research went into Lucy Adlington's remarkable work of non-fiction, "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz." Most of the dressmakers whose stories are recounted in these pages were Jews from Slovakia, Bratislava, Hungary, and Transylvania. Along with their families and friends, they were deported to Auschwitz in cattle cars and, upon arrival, were plunged into a hellhole of freezing cold; putrid food; verbal and physical abuse; and exhausting manual labor. Fortunately, Hedwig Höss, A prodigious amount of research went into Lucy Adlington's remarkable work of non-fiction, "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz." Most of the dressmakers whose stories are recounted in these pages were Jews from Slovakia, Bratislava, Hungary, and Transylvania. Along with their families and friends, they were deported to Auschwitz in cattle cars and, upon arrival, were plunged into a hellhole of freezing cold; putrid food; verbal and physical abuse; and exhausting manual labor. Fortunately, Hedwig Höss, the wife of Auschwitz's commandant, Rudolf Höss, loved fine clothing. When she discovered that certain prisoners were talented with a needle and thread, she and other high-ranking SS wives took advantage of the inmates' skills. In a salon knows as the "Upper Tailoring Studio," overseen by the capable and compassionate Marta Fuchs, the seamstresses performed expert alterations and created beautiful coats, dresses, and children's garments. Irene, Bracha, Katka, Olga, Hunya, and other dressmakers formed "the most incredible bonds of friendship and loyalty." Their mutual support while in captivity helped them persevere in "a grotesque world where lives could be rescued, ruined, or ended on a whim." Furthermore, Lucy Adlington, a fashion historian, brilliantly explores the concept of clothing as a metaphor for human dignity. The Nazis dehumanized the Jews by stripping them of their possessions, shaving their heads, tattooing their arms, and forcing them to wear lice-ridden garments. In contrast, many of Hitler's followers were decked out in military-style uniforms that fostered "group pride and identity." There is so much to love about this elegantly and sensitively written book, in which the author provides a window into a little-known aspect of Jewish survival during the Holocaust. Adlington emphasizes that small acts of kindness and sharing helped prevent the Jewish captives from sinking into despair. It is amazing that these women, who suffered so much hardship and humiliation, had the ability to work long hours turning out expertly tailored garments. "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz" is a testament to the resilience and courage of a band of brave and resilient women who sewed to stay alive "in the midst of industrialized genocide."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: by Lucy Adlington is a True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive in World War 2. This new book by Lucy was amazing and a very hard read. I had to put it down several times and then come back to it. This book is a very powerful true story of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and is about twenty-five mainly Jewish women and young girls who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion work The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: by Lucy Adlington is a True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive in World War 2. This new book by Lucy was amazing and a very hard read. I had to put it down several times and then come back to it. This book is a very powerful true story of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and is about twenty-five mainly Jewish women and young girls who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes at an extraordinary fashion workshop created within one of the most notorious WWII death camps. They created and designed beautiful clothes for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. These talented women produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust. As they worked they hoped it would spare them from the gas chambers. This fashion workshop was called the Upper Tailoring Studio and was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, Lucy has a way of writing; that will pull you in. Her books are always beautifully written with so much care and you will need a box of tissues handy. This book "The Dressmakers of Auschwitz:" need to be shared with others and not be forgotten on what happened at Auschwitz in World War 2. I highly recommend this book and several tissues. Plus, a must read book for 2021 Big Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Books By Your Bedside

    Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review. I’ve read quite a number of Holocaust books in my time, especially this year, and whilst there may be hints of repetitiveness through them, I will never fail to be astounded and horrified by each story. But Adlington has managed to find the right balance between being sensitive and respectful and not shying away from the horrors of what was happening. The idea of a dressmaking salon in the middle of a Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review. I’ve read quite a number of Holocaust books in my time, especially this year, and whilst there may be hints of repetitiveness through them, I will never fail to be astounded and horrified by each story. But Adlington has managed to find the right balance between being sensitive and respectful and not shying away from the horrors of what was happening. The idea of a dressmaking salon in the middle of a concentration camp seems absurd. A seemingly peaceful, creative outlet smack bang in the middle of a torture camp. It is unbelievable to think that people still have the ideologies - maybe not to the same extent - today. It is very well researched and clearly Adlington was very touched by the stories she heard. As with all Auschwitz books, it is not an easy read at all, but it was a pleasure (if that’s the right word for it) to read about such a little known group of inmates. It’s so important that all their stories are told and retold through the generations.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    The Dressmakers of Auschwitz ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thank you @harperperennial for the #gifted copy #OliveInfluencer Synopsis: At the height of the Holocaust 25 young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers. This fashion workshop was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guar The Dressmakers of Auschwitz ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thank you @harperperennial for the #gifted copy #OliveInfluencer Synopsis: At the height of the Holocaust 25 young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers. This fashion workshop was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust. This is an extremely thorough account of these brave women, whose paths are not well known like other accounts of the Holocaust. I loved the mix of photos throughout this book and everything they added to the story. The pacing felt off in some places, but that happens with nonfiction books, when there’s so much information to share. Overall, this is a great book and a good look inside the women who sewed to survive.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was an amazing read while also being a very hard read. Not because of the writing, but because of the unfathomable plight these women endure and survived. As someone who has read a lot about the holocaust, the Dressmakers of Auschwitz and their salon were unknown to me. I knew that there were female prisoners that sewed in the camps, but the fact that they were forced to create fashion couture for the Nazis that were torturing them is astounding. Lucy Adlington starts the book's narrat This book was an amazing read while also being a very hard read. Not because of the writing, but because of the unfathomable plight these women endure and survived. As someone who has read a lot about the holocaust, the Dressmakers of Auschwitz and their salon were unknown to me. I knew that there were female prisoners that sewed in the camps, but the fact that they were forced to create fashion couture for the Nazis that were torturing them is astounding. Lucy Adlington starts the book's narrative in a semi-chaotic manner, describing the early lives and pre-concentration world of the women who would band together as these dressmakers. She goes back and forth between them all, giving slight snapshots into their lives. As the dressmakers start to be grouped together the narrative bands together with them. I really like how Adlington did this. It really fit the scene and helped create the world that she researched and described. I would definitely recommend this book. The strength and spirit of the women described in this book deserve to be known.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Needle in, needle out. This is a very powerful book about the women who used their skill of sewing and dressmaking to survive in Auschwitz. It was a combination of luck and skill that allowed these women to live. This book illuminates the resiliency and perseverance of these incredible women as well as the depravity of the Nazi psyche, xenophobia and racism. This book tells of their individual lives prior to the war, how they came to be interned at Auschwitz, their interaction there as well as t Needle in, needle out. This is a very powerful book about the women who used their skill of sewing and dressmaking to survive in Auschwitz. It was a combination of luck and skill that allowed these women to live. This book illuminates the resiliency and perseverance of these incredible women as well as the depravity of the Nazi psyche, xenophobia and racism. This book tells of their individual lives prior to the war, how they came to be interned at Auschwitz, their interaction there as well as their lives after the war. It's an amazing story of friendship forged out of the depths of humanity. I've read numerous books on the Holocaust and WWII and had never heard of this band of women. The last living member of this group died earlier this year. We cannot forget. I'm giving this book 5 stars based on the subject matter, the extensive research that went into it and the story it tells. It does read a little bit dry in some places but there's no way to make some of this any easier to read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deb Drummet

    In preparation to attend the Auschwitz exhibit at Union Station, I have been reading quite a bit of the history of [email protected] This book was fascinating in that it really dealt with the efficient way the Nazi's tried to erase the Jewish race. Think about it...they tried to complete erase them. They took away their means of making money, their religion, their hair and all of their personal effects, their food, and their clothing. They wanted no one in the Jewish race to have an identity. However, the wom In preparation to attend the Auschwitz exhibit at Union Station, I have been reading quite a bit of the history of [email protected] This book was fascinating in that it really dealt with the efficient way the Nazi's tried to erase the Jewish race. Think about it...they tried to complete erase them. They took away their means of making money, their religion, their hair and all of their personal effects, their food, and their clothing. They wanted no one in the Jewish race to have an identity. However, the women of the officers of the Third Reich, hypocrites that they were, wanted to have the couture clothing that they were accustomed to. And, of course, the Jewish seamstresses were the BEST in the business. Many had worked for couture houses before the war, or had their own clothing labels. An excellent, basically non fiction book. It takes a bit to absorb, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (as much as one can enjoy reading about this dark, dark timeperiod in history).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    4.5. When you pick up a book with Auschwitz in the title, you know it’s going to be intense. And this was. But it was also super interesting. Women have used fashion throughout history to assert their power in patriarchal systems. I never considered how the Nazis understood that and used clothes for their power. I never considered that stripping Jews of their clothing and belongings was a deliberate part of the dehumanizing process. And ultimately, fashion and sewing saved these women’s lives. T 4.5. When you pick up a book with Auschwitz in the title, you know it’s going to be intense. And this was. But it was also super interesting. Women have used fashion throughout history to assert their power in patriarchal systems. I never considered how the Nazis understood that and used clothes for their power. I never considered that stripping Jews of their clothing and belongings was a deliberate part of the dehumanizing process. And ultimately, fashion and sewing saved these women’s lives. The author does a great job pointing out the repeated hypocrisy of the Nazis. And showing that despite all the horrors, the human spirit - through friendship, bonds, etc - is unbreakable. I only wished that the women’s voices were in the book a little more. I understand that this is because the author pulled a lot of this research together after they had passed away. But at times it makes it read like a work of research rather than their real life stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kym's Open Books

    Wow! This one left my head reeling. I’ve read a lot of WW2 novels but this one was just different enough that I learned many new things. My admiration goes to Adlington for the immense amount of research she did. This novel followed the fashions of the time and let us glimpse the lives of the SS officers and their families. I’ve never had a book focus on the officers and I loved that aspect! It also talked about how the Nazis were able to achieve such control over so many people. The psychological Wow! This one left my head reeling. I’ve read a lot of WW2 novels but this one was just different enough that I learned many new things. My admiration goes to Adlington for the immense amount of research she did. This novel followed the fashions of the time and let us glimpse the lives of the SS officers and their families. I’ve never had a book focus on the officers and I loved that aspect! It also talked about how the Nazis were able to achieve such control over so many people. The psychological aspect was both astounding and shrewd. Check the full review on my blog because this short review doesn’t do it justice! Thank you to Harper Perennial for the gifted copy. This book releases Sept 14, 2021. https://www.theopenbooks.net/2021/08/...

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