Books

Book Review: ‘The Testimony’ by Halina Wagowska

81-year-old Halina Wagowska felt compelled to write this "her last testimony before she drops off the twig" and it's remarkable; at once harrowing, thought provoking and surprisingly uplifting.
The Testimony

The Testimony by Halina Wagowska, Hardie Grant Books, $24.95

Eighty-one-year-old Halina Wagowska felt compelled to write this “her last testimony before she drops off the twig” and it’s remarkable; at once harrowing, thought provoking and surprisingly uplifting.

Written as a series of autobiographical snapshots, what comes through most is Halina’s incredible belief in humanity against the most punishing odds, although the central premise of how to explain the Holocaust still eludes her.

“It involved sustained, professional engagement of doctors, organisers and builders for nearly six years — and so many of them eager and sadistic beyond the call of duty. How did the cultured German nation find such a large army of willing perpetrators?”

Halina pleads. Her journey from not very religious Jewish child in Poland to Auschwitz where she had to help dispose of the bodies of gassed inmates, Stutthof where she was beaten near to death and where her mother died in her arms and eventually to Australia where she overcame the “refo” tag to follow a career in pathology and support society’s less advantaged, especially the Aboriginal community, is riveting and shines a pertinent light on the current hot political issue of asylum seekers. There is so much we can learn from Halina.

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