Eva’s Journey: A Young Girl’s True Story

The Girl Who Lived

Eva Bromberg has the misfortune of coming into adolescence just as the Nazis invade her homeland. Eva and her father move about Poland, seeking safe haven. After soldiers take her dad and the other Jewish men in town, Eva realizes that he is dead and that she must flee. Eva
Eva at nine
From 1941 to 1945, the blond girl passes as a Christian, dodging repeated brushes with discovery and death. Ultimately the war ends, and Eva finds freedom with her mother and brother in Palestine.As an adult, Eva immigrated to the United States, married, and raised a family. Now a grandmother named Hava Ben-Zvi, she has finally published her thrilling story.Ben-Zvi, a librarian, tailors her novella-length narrative to young teens, students who are near the age she was when she began her “journey”. She includes a simple timeline of the World War II and a bibliography of books about children who endured the Holocaust and other atrocities such as American slavery and Hiroshima.Eva’s Journey is not just a lesson in history; it is a terrific read that belongs in every public and school library. For Hava Ben-Zvi is more than an educator and wonderful writer. She is Eva Bromberg–the girl who lived.

“No fiction could match the excitement of this real-life tale of suspense and survival. Eva’s Journey zips along, touching only lightly on the tragedy at its core. The focus instead is on the combination of luck and Eva’s amazing presence of mind that allow the Jewish teen to evade capture by the Nazis for four years in occupied Poland and Russia. Eva’s Journey is a glorious story of a resilient spirit triumphant over some the worst human savagery our world has endured.”
–Irene E. McDermott, author of The Librarian’s Internet Survival Guide and Reference Librarian/System Manager, San Marino Public Library, California
“I was very moved and often teary-eyed as I read this story of the survival of this incredible child.”
Tami Cutler, Elementary School Teacher, Duarte, California
“I read the whole story, and it was excellent. I feel that it makes a significant contribution to the literature reflecting Jewish history and experience of that period, and would be useful to schools and historical and cultural organizations. I got quite caught up in the story, and thought it had a lot of feeling.”
Kay Haugaard, Professor of Creative Writing, Pasadena City College and author of No Place
Intimacy is the hallmark of this Holocaust memoir. AJL colleague Hava Ben-Zvi survived the Holocaust on her own as an orphaned, spunky, resourceful teenager. Her new book, set in Poland and Israel, moves chronologically through life-threatening dangers of Nazi hegemony, then Communist domination. Hava’s mother and brother emigrate to Israel; German invasion interrupts plans for a family reunion. Hava and her father escape by boat to Russian territory. The Germans conquer their Russia-held town; her father is shot. Blonde, twelve-year-old Hava turns to friends and orphanages, which in turn find farm families to shelter her. She hides in plain sight and with luck makes it. Jumping from a Soviet work train, she returns to Poland and eventually, post-war, reaches Israel. She finds her mother through a newspaper ad!How did she feel with every twist of fate? Hava confines her emotions in a spare, swiftly moving, first person narrative. Pen and ink line drawings and maps, the kind a child might sketch, add appeal to the dramatic, sad, hopeful story. A family photograph gallery enhances the succinct epilogue. This riveting page-turner of a survivor’s tale understands it is peaking to young readers several generations after the events. Frank and from a peer’s point of view, it successfully connects with history and hope. Recommended for all school and synagogue libraries. Grades 5-9.
Ellen G. Cole, Temple Isaiah, Los Angeles, CAPresident, Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern CaliforniaAssociation of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, September/October 2004

Students Learn From and Inspire a Holocaust Survivor

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to develop a friendship with Hava Ben-Zvi, a survivor of the Holocaust, who has spoken to many of our Facing History classes. Hava is one of my heroes, not just for her story of survival and resilience as a young girl hiding from the Nazis in Poland. She is my hero because even though her education was interrupted during the war, she went on to immigrate to Israel, and then the U.S. where she became an educator, and a librarian.  She wrote a memoir of her experience, Eva’s Journey, and in her 80s she published, Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, an Anthology, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

Have_Ben_Zvi_cropped_0Most of all, I love Hava’s generous spirit with students. Last year, she visited Nicole Solig’s 10th grade class at the Los Angeles School of Global Studies, (LASGS) across the street from our office in downtown. When she tells her story, you can see the teacher in Hava coming through, the way she engages with the students, asking THEM questions and listening so carefully to their responses. A few weeks after the LASGS visit, I received a letter in the mail from Hava, which she has given me permission to share. It sums up what happens when students are given the tools, trust and time to wrestle with this history:

April 8, 2012

Dear LASGS 10th Graders,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful, impressive letters. Each one of your precious letters is a testimony to who you are and will be. Many of your words and expressions warmed my heart:

Hava letter to LASGS

That one hour visit was the spark of an ongoing reflection about Hava’s story, and her engagement with the students. This fall one of our themes has been the act of listening, and I can’t think of a better example of what happens when people truly listen to each other–the students to Hava, and her gift back to them of hearing what they had to say.

How do you bring voices from history to your students–both in person and through other means?

Hava is featured in our Survivor Voices section that includes photos from her life, connections and more.


Hava Ben-Zvi today
Hava Ben-Zvi is a retired librarian. She lives in San Marino, California. Write to her at hava.benzvi@att.net Eva’s Journey: A Young Girl’s True Story
ISBN: 0595307507
Publisher: iUniverse
Date: 2004
To order or arrange for programs please contact the author at hava.benzvi@att.net or call 626-799-3133.
Price: $11.95.  May also be ordered through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and iUniverse.com. Libraries and stores may order from Baker and Taylor and Ingram.

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