Cover Image: My Name Is Selma

My Name Is Selma

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Member Reviews

What an inspirational book and how brave she was during an incredibly difficult time. I found her story very relevant to modern history and would recommend reading this book to everyone interested in this dark and evil time.
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Selma van de Perre is a Holocaust and Ravensbrück camp survivor and in this book, she tells her experience of the war starting from her early childhood, her memories of the war as a young woman growing up in the Netherlands and her eventual separation form her family. her work in the Resistance and her capture.

This was a really interesting look at the war from the eyes of someone who truly lived it, experiences the trauma of losing family members and almost dying herself and finding ways to rebuild her life afterwards. The tone of this book is very conservational and Selma's story is an easy one to follow and understand. Her love for her family really comes through in every word she writes about them which makes it all the more heartbreaking when we know they didn't survive the war.

Selma's work in the Resistance was interesting to follow though I felt at times, she almost rushed through her stories and I would have loved some deep dives into particular trips she had to take undercover. I think Selma herself seems really humble about her war efforts and it seems like she really doesn't understand what an extraordinary woman she is!

The time in the concentration camp was hard to read about and knowing Selma was at death's door so often, it's just amazing to think about the strength and fortitude she displayed to keep going, to keep getting up every day never knowing if she was ever going to be saved.

I definitely think Selma kept the readers at arm's reach in this book, and I'm not sure if I really understood who she was deep down (for example Edith Eger's The Choice, I really felt like I knew Edith and her personality). But also I find this extremely understandable as Selma is telling us about an extremely traumatic time in her life that she might not want to deep dive into too much,
and she's also a very old woman now too so this style of storytelling was probably easier too!

I really liked that Selma also put an emphasis on how hard it was to keep going after the war and the depression she struggled with and that she knew other people struggled with as well. And the fact that many survivors were told to just 'keep living' and not to think about the atrocity that had happened to them and their families. As well, Semla briefly described the trauma young Jewish children experienced both living during the war as well as from being separated from parents at a young age, loving their foster parents and then bein returned to parents who were, tragically, all but strangers to them. And that many children never really got over this.

This is a really wonderful read full of sadness and heartbreak but also full of love, friendship and survival. What a lady!
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Before starting this review I will say that as this is a based on true events told from a personal account so it does make for a really difficult read. I cannot quite put into words emotions that ran through me whilst reading this.

Selma is a jewish girl who became a member of the resistance during WWII, and survived Ravensbruck. The courage it must have taken her to witness and live through this horror is unimaginable. 

This is a must read there are lessons throughout this book, but Selma’s spirit showed me that you can live through something atrocious and leave without bitterness. I hope to never forgot that it. This remarkable book will remain with me forever. 

Thank you to the publishers for give it me a opportunity to read it.
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My Name Is Selma is the straight forward account of a very brave young Dutch Jewish woman's experiences in occupied Netherlands, how she became involved with the Resistance Fighters and survived by using fake identity papers. Selma's story tells of her life before the occupation and also of how she managed to build a new life for herself after the war.

This is a truly remarkable story, told very matter of fact, there is  no embellishment of the facts. This is Selma's story to tell in her own words, and it feels like they are the words of a real person.  

I was given a copy of My Name Is Selma by NetGalley and the publishers in return for an unbiased review.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for the arc of My Name Is Selma. 

This is a remarkable, emotional and sensational memoir of one of the few jewish survivors of WW2. We learn about her experiences and her life in world war 2 and what happened which was from hiding refugess to her travels and even leaflet handing out. I really loved this book, this was an amazing memoir to read, i definitely recommend to all in which like to read true life stories especially about world war 2. 

5 star reads for me! Thank you Selma for letting us read your experiences!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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This was an easy read in that the sentence structure and chapters flowed, but for me lacked any emotion. I never found a connection between the events and Selma - it was like she was narrating rather than giving her feelings about the situations she was in, which was very disappointing.
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My Name is Selma is an honest account of a Jewish resistance fighter. What I liked about her account was the fact that it opened my eyes to something I had never considered – the fact that there was a Jewish resistance.

This is not a sensationalised account so not every element is fast-paced action. This was something I liked though because it was true to life.

Her account, and others like it are incomprehensible to us but that is why I think it is important that books like this continue to be published.

“I’m sitting here in my quiet house in London and looking at a photo taken in 1940. It’s of my mother, younger sister and me. We’re relaxing in Aunt Sara’s garden in Amsterdam, which, at that moment, was my perfect peaceful spot…A model image of family time: loving, secure, comfortable, predictable. There’s no hint in our faces of what was to come in the following three years: the deaths of my father, mother and Clara; my grandma; Aunt Sara, her husband Arie and their two sons; and so many other family members.

None of these deaths were due to natural causes or accidents. They were the results of the atrocities that were already spreading across Europe when the photo was taken, and which would soon infiltrate the Netherlands. Before these catastrophic events, we hadn’t comprehended what a privilege it was to lead an anonymous life. I can still hardly believe that people who should have remained unremarkable ended up memorialised on lists and monuments – because they had fallen victim to the most systemic mass murder the world has ever known.”

I think the passage above is reflective of Selma’s style without and shows her unflinching approach to their topic of her families murders.

Selma tells us how before the Nazis being Jewish wasn’t really part of her identity because she and her family weren’t practicing Jews. During the war Selma found herself participating actively in the resistance movement at great personal risk. My Name is Selma tells of her extraordinary bravery even when she was arrested as a political prisoner and sent to a concentration camp.

What is striking about Selma is her focus on positivity and enjoying life despite the deep sadness she must feel at times.

An exceptional lady.
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Selma's story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, I was captivated from the first page and could hardly put the book down, finishing it in just two sittings. She tells the story of being Jewish in occupied Netherlands, working for the resistance movement and her time in ravensbruk concentration camp. It was interesting to learn about the Dutch resistance movement which often isn't mentioned. Overall it is a beautifully written book telling a story of a bold and brave women who had such a great will to survive.
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My thanks to Selma van de Perre, Netgalley and Random House UK for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

My Name Is Selma is the incredible story of Selma van de Perre, a young Jewish Dutch woman at the time of World War II, who took part in the resistance movement in the Netherlands, Belgium and France during the Nazi occupation. From Selma's daring travels delivering resistance pamphlets, to hiding refugees and to her eventual arrest, we learn about Selma's experience during the war.

What an incredible story! I have read a number of survivor accounts during my time as a history and RE teacher, but this is the first I have read about a member of the resistance. Whilst I knew that Selma survived (obviously), I was on the edge of my seat on a number of occasions as things were turning very bad. Selma certainly did have a lot of luck at that time.

Selma does detail harrowing parts of her experiences, but does so in a censored way. She does not go into great detail, which I actually think is a good thing. As an educator, we are taught not to sensationalise the harrowing images and experiences from the Holocaust. 

Would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the resistance and female political prisoners of the Nazis.
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Selma had me sucked in from reading the first couple of sentences, I honestly feel it's a book that everyone should read..

The experiences she had are some that we could never understand or imagine happening to us or those around us.

Truly a survivors story that will keep you enthralled to the very end
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Selma is "one of the few Dutch Jewish survivors of the Second World War," and this is her story as part of the Resistance and as a woman in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, the only one exclusively for women.
This book taught me about the Jewish Resistance, which I wasn't aware of, and I also wasn't aware of a concentration camp only for women. Truth be told it's not a topic I usually search for, but I think the reason why I choose to read and review this book was Selma's face (as a 98-year old now) on the cover. I wanted to know her story.
As for the book, it reads well and I devoured it in one day. However, if it tried to keep the reader tense, for me it failed to do so, for example in the missions she fulfills as part of the Resistance. The book reads as a series of anecdotes, and there are so many names I kept losing track of who's who.
Having said that, Selma’s story is one of courage and, as she says herself, luck, and the horrors she portrays should not be forgotten.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is one of those books that rendered me unable to put words towards a review until I gave myself a few days to digest what I had just read.  Usually I start reviewing a book immediately, having taken notes as I read.  However, with real life stories such as the horrors that enfold in this book, I find it really difficult to find words adequate enough to do it justice.

This is the story of Selma, an ordinary Jewish girl who became a member of the resistance during WWII, and who survived Ravensbruck.  It is the ordinariness of her life that makes what happens to her and her family so hard to comprehend.  She tells us her story without embellishment or hyperbole, in language so stark it is almost unbearable at times.

"I turned twenty on 7 June 1942. But what should have been a celebration became a sombre day, as I received the dreaded summons, demanding that I present myself at Amsterdam Central Station to be taken to a work camp in Eastern Europe."

Selma's spirit and courage under the most unimaginable conditions, and how she, and others like her, did not just survive the horror and the losses, but emerge to live full lives, without bitterness is beyond remarkable.  Some of the descriptions in this book of the horrors she saw, are really hard to read but it needs to be seen, for us to realise that these things happened, to ordinary people, like you and I.  This book has certainly left me in a very reflective mood.

Something that struck me about this book is how often Selma uses the word "murder" when talking about the victims of the Nazis - friends, families and strangers alike.  I think too often when the Holocaust is discussed, words like "exterminated" are used, which seems to dehumanise and lessen the memory of  the victims.  The Nazis murdered people, individuals.  It was murder on an unimaginable scale.

"You can’t live in constant fear. Even fear is something to which you become accustomed. You have to set it aside and simply get on with what you are doing. Every day I did things that put my life at risk, but the acts themselves were no different from what I’d usually do as I went about my normal daily business. That’s not to say I wasn’t scared, but I didn’t allow the fear to overwhelm me – the desire to thwart the Nazis and help people in danger was stronger."

This is a painful but really important read, for all of us who may think this could never happen again, never happen to us.  Thank goodness there are still people like Selma (now 98 and living in London) to share their experiences of the atrocities that happened to them - we need to learn the lessons they provide, and never forget them.

This is a remarkable and powerful book that will remain with me forever, and one I feel privileged to have been able to read.
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My Name is Selma is a memoir. But I’m hesitant to use that word. I read a lot of memoirs, I enjoy the insight and the character development that comes from hearing history from someone who lived through it; someone who, despite it all, survived. 
This book was incredible. It didn’t feel like I was reading, I felt that I was sitting with Selma, a cup of tea in hand, listening to her story. The story of her life in the Netherlands during the occupation. 
Selma was 20 when she found herself alone and working for the Resistance, her family had been split, her brothers in different arms of the army, her father moved to a ‘work’ camp and her mother and sister in hiding. She worked for the resistance for years until an oversight landed her in in prison. Throughout, Selma’s story there is a constant undertone of hope, a demand to survive. 
I know it’s hard to put a star rating on non-fiction so I won’t, but I am highly recommending it to all of you. If you want to read something uplifting, horrific but uplifting all the same, read this. And treasure Selma Van De Perre.
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It astounds me that Selma has taken this long before she would write her autobiographical experience of her life during the Second World War but I suspect from her writing that it has taken this long to be able to put pen to paper and relive the experience. It is clearly written and very informative but lacks intensity of feeling for me. I found it fascinating that she felt her life was saved so many times by gut feeling and luck. Her description of sleepless nights indicates that obviously what she survived had a deep impact on her but the writing is almost stark. Perhaps it was the only way she could finally share her horrendous experiences during the war. To fear death and have to spend many years denying her Jewish heritage must have been unbearable. Obviously a very brave woman to whom so many must be grateful.
Many thanks to Netgalley/Selma van de Perre/Random House UK for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This is an amazing story of an amazing woman.  She has dodged death several times in her long life and is still active and an inspiration to us all.  If she could survive and conquer all she went through then we can too.
A wonderful woman with a sad and turbulent history.
Well done Selma.
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This is a remarkable story about a truly remarkable woman. Selma describes a less known side of the Holocaust - the resistance fighters. Selma talks not just about the story of the genocide but also about the small things in life which make it a very personal story. I highly recommend this book. It will stay with me for a long time.
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This is a really outstanding book about a Jewish lady from the Netherlands who survived world war 2 & it’s horrors under the Nazi regime. It is well written without emotion & to the point. I felt as though she was sat in her chair telling me her story. So glad she found it in herself to write this amazing story about her life.  She managed to pass her self off as non Jewish so she could get around more easily . This enabled her to work within a resistance group to help others escape . She lived under a false Identity to protect herself as what she was doing & the fact she was Jewish could mean a matter of life or death . She travelled around taking papers, money, newsletters & sharing information That could help save lives. Her luck ran out in 1944 & she is transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp. How she survived I do not know . She is now 98 years old & we are so lucky she felt able to tell us her story .
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Until the age of seventeen Selma lived in the Netherlands without any problems concerning her identity. She lived in a loving family of two parents with four children, two boys and a sister. Her life was unremarkable with the usual amount of ups and downs. She loved her life; she was a good student, adventurous, confident, settled and happy. Then World War 11 broke out in 1939 and by 1941 it was impossible to live a normal life as a Jewish family. All Jewish people were persecuted by the Nazis and had to seek refuge, fight against the Nazis or risk your life being cut short. Times were perilous and you were not allowed to mix with non-Jews. Jews had to obey a curfew and follow lots of restrictive laws aimed at segregation. Then they were hunted down, their belongings taken from them and all too often they were sent to concentration camps and worse, to the death chambers and murdered.
Selma found friends to shield her and eventually, in an act of defiance and bravery, joined the Resistance movement under the fake ID of Margareta van der Kuit, passing herself off as an Indo-European. For two years and with many close calls she travelled around the country doing what had to be done; acting as a go-between, handing out magazines, delivering documents and messages. Several times she was seconds away from discovery and certain death. But then in 1944 her luck ran out and she was captured and loaded into transport taking women to Ravensbrück, the only concentration camp that was women only and used to house political prisoners She was still calling herself by her pseudonym. Throughout her incarceration she kept her identity secret and trusted no one. She was starved and mistreated until at last she was rescued and transported to Sweden. It was only once she was on neutral territory that she revealed her true identity and started the search for her parents and siblings.
Now aged ninety-eight and living in London, Selma has written her autobiography underlining her belief that these war stories must be revealed so that the younger generation learn about the atrocities of war. Her story is not an easy read because of the very sad and violent content, but nevertheless I found her story very moving. She has been honoured for her courage and bravery and I feel privileged to have read her story.  I have been very careful in outlining her story in precis so that your reading experience has not been spoilt. The details of her experiences are detailed, shocking and very engaging but for you to find out. 
I would like to thank NetGalley and publisher Transworld Digital for my copy of this novel, sent to me in return for an honest review. I recommended this memoir as a thought provoking and absorbing read. I will never forget Selma and her courageous fight for justice and freedom.
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This book tells the Story of Selma who was 17 when World War 2 started and is Jewish and her story.

Wow This book is amazing and I would Recommend everyone reads Selma Incredible Story , I read this book in a day and Selma story will stay with me for a long time .

With thanks to Netgalley & Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for the Arc of this book in exchange for my review
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I’ll be totally honest I feel drawn to books about the survivors of the Holocaust. I feel very strongly that their stories must be told and never ever forgotten, so when I saw this book and the picture of Selma, “the Ravensbrúck survivor” and “Jewish Resistance fighter” “today” at age 98 I felt compelled to read about her life as well as her many near deaths too.
I think the fact the cover image is Selma’s face makes it so powerful and almost irresistible, I know I would have to pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more about the remarkable woman who was a Jewish Resistance fighter who also managed to survive Ravensbruck too! 

The book begins with Selma hiding hoping to evade capture. Sadly, she is found by an SS Guard and thrown into the last wagon. Selma doesn’t know any of the women she is in the wagon with. It turns out the women in the wagon are asocial, meaning they have done something the Germans do not like. It ends up being a bit of good luck for Selma as these women worked in the kitchen which means they have had access to food and have managed to smuggle more with them than those in the other wagons. When the women bicker about how to share or ration their food it is Selma that speaks up and ends up being chosen to take care of and distribute the food, in an attempt to make it last for their journey. It’s whilst on the long train journey that Selma writes a not to her best friend Gretchen, she tells her friend she is in a cattle wagon on her way to Ravensbruck or Sachsenhausen. She throws the note through a gap in the slats of the wagon hoping it reaches her friend but not knowing if it will.

The book then reverts to the past and gives some background about Selma and her parents and siblings. Selma’s father was an actor so they moved around a lot for his work. His work was also sporadic so Selma was used to life changing rapidly. When he was in work they could live, eat and dress well. However. when work was scarce they wore hand me down clothes, made do, and ate what their mother could get her hands on to cook for them. Maybe it is this type of life of having to adapt to her surroundings that helped Selma exist and survive Ravensbrusck. Though Selma and her family were Jewish, they weren’t regular attenders at their church. The most religious thing about Selma and possibly the only clue to her Jewish heritage was the fact she wore a Star of David necklace. Some would say lucky for Selma, she didn’t have the typical Jewish hair and looks so easily passed as a German. 

Several times in the book, Selma refers to herself as lucky. As she works distributing messages and leaflets within the Jewish Resistance, she comes really close to being captured.  Selma’s part of the resistance ends up being caught, yet once again she is not identified as Jewish and is put with political prisoners. Selma has many brushes with death, even when liberated from Ravensbruck, she narrowly misses being in one of the vehicles that is blown up when mistaken for a vehicle full of fleeing German Army personnel.

I don’t want to reveal everything about Selma’s life as you need to read it all in the words and order Selma chooses to divulge it in the book. It is her story to tell. You may think that when Selma is liberated from Ravensbruck her suffering is over, but it is far from finished. Selma may have been freed from Ravensbruck but she has no where to live, no money, just nothing.

Selma naturally revisits her old home and discovers the odd neighbour here and there that is still in the area. Selma is desperate to know what happened to her dear father and her mother and her younger sister Clara. Unfortunately, the reality is devastating. Selma still manages to pick herself up and get on with her life. Her two brothers fought and are both now in England. 

This book tells how the war and Nazi regime progressed. First what could be considered small things were taken away from Jewish families, like not being allowed into the same cinema as others, not being allowed out. Then losing their businesses and property. All perhaps things the Jewish people could survive or cope with alone but the way things escalated because of one mans idea’s of perfection, that same man’s feelings of hate towards a race of people would be unbelievable, and you would think it a fictional story if you didn’t know that it is fact and the people in these books are real, their losses real, their suffering real. The more I read about the era, the more I learn, then look at the world around us and shockingly see similarities, the beginnings of possibilities of all these atrocities happening again.
I found it interesting to learn that the Red Cross visited different camps run by the Nazis, obviously only shown certain areas and healthy prisoners. Red Cross parcels were regularly sent to these concentration camps. However, in reality it was extremely rare for any of the parcel contents to ever make it to those in need. The guards were the ones that benefited from the Red Cross parcels not the prisoners existing in the horrendous conditions hidden from the visiting Red Cross. How could the truth be so easily hidden?
I also read the sad story of the Resistance member that revealed information in the hope it would save Selma and his other colleagues. Of course, the Nazis did not keep to their end of the deal, lives were lost and the Resistance member survived the war and ended up being labelled a collaborator, despite having suffered greatly himself.
Though I have read quite a few of these survivor stories there is always more to learn. I didn’t know Ravensbruck gave their prisoners numbers but did not tattoo them onto them as other camps did. I think I have read a lot about Auschwitz and not so much about the women only camp of Ravensbruck. I had also read about “The White Rose” but perhaps not so much about the Jewish Resistance. I know it is a very dark period of history but these stories must be told, these people must be remembered, then at least they did not die in vain.

Selma truly is a remarkable woman, but through her words in the book she strikes me as someone who would shrug off an accolade or praise for what she did. Selma tells her story in a matter of fact way, how it all happened. Selma made and lost friends along the way. After the war she did her best to trace family and friends tracing what happened to them, visiting them if they too survived and mourning the ones that didn’t. I am honestly thankful to Selma for telling her story, so that younger generations can learn the truth and pass on her story into the future too. Selma doesn’t make out she is/was anything special, she just tells her story and that of those around her throughout her journey. As she says in the little introduction of the book she has shared her story as a tribute to all those who suffered and died. The ironic thing is all through her journey through the resistance and in Ravensbruck she was not identified as Jewish. She was arrested and held as a political prisoner, under an assumed name and false identity papers. Did being a political prisoner as opposed to being a Jewish prisoner save her life? Who knows, maybe it did. I imagine anytime those identity papers were called for, examined were extremely anxious times for Selma. She must have been continually on edge, and she states in the book she trusted no one with her true name and heritage. It wasn’t until everything was over that Selma reclaimed her real birth name in the hope it may help her trace her family and friends.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that it was an amazing account of a brave, courageous woman who survived the atrocities around her by living one day at a time. Trying her best to hold on to a shred of hope. Despite the odds she survives Ravensbruck. Her life story and those like her should be told, and retold, handed down the generations so they are never forgotten or repeated.

To sum up this book takes you through a whole range of emotions. From dread and being on the edge of your seat as Selma describe how she evades being almost caught on many occasions. There’s horror at the conditions she has to live in, anguish when she is so ill, it seems she will die in the camp, to elation when Ravensbruck is liberated, relief she isn’t in the wagon that is bombed yet at the same time despair for those poor women to have survived the war and a concentration camp to be bombed and killed during their liberation by those on their own side of the war. I say this about lots of the books I read about those that survived the Holocaust but Selma’s story is one of courage, bravery and yes as Selma herself says luck and it must be read, and talked about. It’s a message, memories of an horrendous time that should never be forgotten.
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