A Life Reclaimed, A child among the partisans, by Luba Olenski (2006)

Over a number of months, Ian Grinblat and Luba Olenski spent regular evenings during which Luba recounted the story of her life and Ian took notes which he formed into a coherent narrative.

Luba’s protected childhood ended violently in 1941 when she was ten years old and recovering from surgery on her feet: her father, wanted as a bourgeois in their home town of Kovno (Lithuania) by the Soviet authorities took her with him on a trip to visit relatives in Bialystok (Poland). Only a few days after their arrival the German army invaded Poland. Luba’s father was taken by the Nazis and she was abandoned to the care of relatives, virtual strangers, in the Bialystok ghetto. Two years later, the feisty Luba jumped from a cattle train bound for Treblinka with a human cargo of Jews destined for extermination. After almost six weeks wandering alone, famished and terrified, Luba was on the point of surrender when she was rescued by Jewish partisans who took her with them into the forest. The sole survivor of her family, Luba was brought to Australia by cousins who had migrated before the war. Love followed her from the Polish forests to her new home where Luba became a wife, mother and grandmother who has through this remarkable memoir preserved the memory of her murdered family.