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!