Cilka’s Journey

I finally finished, “Cilka’s Journey” by Heather Morris, earlier this weekend. It was the continuation of the story from the Tattooist of Auschwitz which you can read about HERE. One of the main character’s from the first book was a Slovakian woman by the name of Cilka. You immediately are drawn to Cilka’s bravery in Auschwitz and find her story to be intriguing. Apparently, she was considered one of the most beautiful women and this caught the attention of a very powerful SS officer. Most of the women in the camp were required to shave their heads, however she was allowed to keep her hair.

The story ends with many of the women being shipped off on a train heading to another camp, however, Cilka was charged with working with the Nazis (since she was used as a sex slave for the officer,) and was sent to the Siberian working camps.

Guys… this is based on a true story and I have been curious about these Russian work camps since I saw the movie White Nights back in the 80s.

THAT brings you to Cilka’s Journey.

WOW. This poor girl was sent to work at Auschwitz at 16 and then sentenced to fifteen years in Siberia. Again she is repeatedly raped, forced to work in mines, however, for whatever reason, Cilka was smart enough to strategize and end up working the hospital and was trained as a nurse. I won’t go into great detail, because THAT is her journey and the basis for the story, but what I can tell you is this girl was full of heart! It is amazing how anyone can withstand the brutality and harsh conditions these people had to live through.

While reading, I began to wonder what I would do? Would I go along to get along? Would I fight and end up in the hole, only left to die from the elements? It truly boggles the mind.

What I can say is I have truly enjoyed reading these two novels by Heather Morris. If you are looking to get a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Gulag and understand what it takes to survive, then this novel is for you!

Great Reading and Good Eating

One of the newest things Tim and I are doing at home is turning off the TV by 7pm. It’s a new concept for us. We have, for the past 4 years, been escaping into random reality series and binge watching shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. We realized so many things weren’t getting done.

Just last week, I finished the book, “Ribbons of Scarlet” which you can read about HERE. It took me about a week and I simply could not put it down. Since I am more of the biographical, historical fiction kinda girl, I opted for another great option that kept coming up in my Kindle “You May Like” category. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is the one that kept reappearing.

I ordered it from Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle. While driving to Macon on Saturday for my hair appointment, I finished the Ribbons of Scarlet and thought what a good idea it would be to go ahead and start my new book. Unfortunately, I forgot I needed access to wireless, so I had to wait until we got home from Macon.

That night I got all cozy in my bed and began, what would become, one of my favorite tales from WWII. Incredible story telling and it is all based on a true story.

Without giving away too much, there is a main character by the name of Lale and he is a Jew and is from Slovakia. When the war began, before Jews were officially being taken away and put in “work camps” or “concentration camps” there were actual calls for men to volunteer to go and work in these camps. Lale, due to his family’s circumstances, chose to volunteer. He ends up at Auschwitz (of all places!!)

I remember as a child learning all about concentration camps. For one, my maternal grandfather fought in WWII and had many, many stories to share. My sister performed in a play about the camp. I saw Schindler’s List and visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. And even more importantly, I have a relative, Judge Shake from Indiana, that was a judge at the Nuremberg Trails. My ancestry on my dad’s mom’s side is German and according to my DNA test, I am 29% German. As you can imagine, anything to do with Germany is of interest to my family.

This story shares how Lale, by the grace of God, was given the job of Tattooist at the camp. With this position came lots of privileges, and luckily, Lale was really good at manipulating the system. Yes, he witnesses many atrocities that you will read about in great detail and yes, there is a love connection that is beyond a fairy tale! (To think it is true.) Lale was a very brave man and there were many times throughout the book that I kept thinking to myself, “What would I have done?”

I think that is the beauty of reading. I got a firsthand account of what life was like in a concentration camp and I kept trying to imagine how I would handle the situation.

I just don’t know.

Needless to say, I high recommend this book. And more great news, there is a follow-up book that explore a life of one of the characters by the name of Cilka. It is called Cilka’s Journey. When the Russians came to liberate the concentration camps, Cilka was actually found to be a collaborator with the Nazis (which she was not,) and sent to Siberia to the work camps. I JUST started that book last night and now I find myself in Siberia in the 1940s. Mama mia!

As promised, I wanted to throw in one recipe for you and it is a super easy one!

Chicken Wrap

  • 2 c. shredded chicken (I used the pulled chicken that is frozen from Tyson)
  • 1/3 cup of Ranch (Sometimes I try different flavor ranches)
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon
  • Butter or Boston Lettuce (used for wraps)

Cook bacon.

Cook chicken.

Combine chicken & ranch in a bowl.

Spoon into lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with bacon (and I usually add shredded cheese.)

Boom and done!