My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor
An international bestseller, this powerful memoir by a ninety-eight-year-old Jewish Resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor “shows us how to find hope in hopelessness and light in the darkness” (Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift).
Selma van de Perre was seventeen when World War II began. Until then, being Jewish in the Netherlands had not been an issue. But by 1941 it had become a matter of life or death. On several occasions, Selma barely avoided being rounded up by the Nazis. While her father was summoned to a work camp and eventually hospitalized in a Dutch transition camp, her mother and sister went into hiding—until they were betrayed in June 1943 and sent to Auschwitz. In an act of defiance and with nowhere else to turn, Selma took on an assumed identity, dyed her hair blond, and joined the Resistance movement, using the pseudonym Margareta van der Kuit. For two years “Marga” risked it all. Using a fake ID, and passing as Aryan, she traveled around the country and even to Nazi headquarters in Paris, sharing information and delivering papers—doing, as she later explained, what “had to be done.”
In July 1944 her luck ran out. She was transported to Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp as a political prisoner. Unlike her parents and sister who she later found out died in other camps—Selma survived by using her alias, pretending to be someone else. It was only after the war ended that she could reclaim her identity and dared to say once again: My name is Selma.
“We were ordinary people plunged into extraordinary circumstances,” she writes in this “astonishing, inspirational, and important” memoir (Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped). Full of hope and courage, this is Selma’s story in her own words.
Praise for My Name Is Selma: The Remarkable Memoir of a Jewish Resistance Fighter and Ravensbrück Survivor
“In My Name is Selma, van de Perre has written an amazing firsthand account of the fear and uncertainty she encountered after the Nazi occupation... [a] powerful book."
—Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
"Holocaust memoirs are all different, all worthy of being told, and all adding to the story that needs to be remembered ... [My Name is Selma] offers a slightly different view of camp life. It should find a home in any library that collects Holocaust materials."
“A Holocaust story of incredible luck, breathtaking bravery and incalculable loss… It has taken [Selma van de Perre] a long time to be able to look back. Now that she has, the most appropriate response is gratitude – for her survival, her mostly fulfilling postwar life, and the details she adds to our remorselessly accumulating knowledge of the period. Selma’s self-portrait is of a woman of courage and heart, who took great risks and suffered greatly, too — but whose luck, cleverness and resilience saw her through.”
“My Name is Selma provides a unique overview of what European Jews experienced between 1933 and 1946, from the perspective of a Jew in disguise… There is much to learn from this memoir of Jewish resistance. [van de Perre’s] book merits wide readership and long employ in the annals of Holocaust scholarship.”
—Jewish Book Council
”A harrowing memoir from “one of the few remaining Dutch Jewish survivors” of World War II. With captivating and heartbreaking detail, van de Perre (b. 1922) shares her memories of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, offering “a testament to our fight against inhumanity" ... An incredible story of courage and compassion."
—Kirkus, starred review
“There are many extraordinary books written by survivors of the Holocaust, and this numbers among them. [van de Perre’s] voice, strength, and pain are palpable throughout; everyone can benefit from reading her story.”
"Every page was so meaningful to me. She describes how difficult it was to survive with a false identity and then to reclaim her true self and be a role model to us all. She shows us how to find hope in hopelessness and light in the darkness.”
—Edith Eger, author of The Choice and The Gift
"My Name is Selma is astonishing, inspirational and important -- a remarkable tale of a young Jewish woman who, in unimaginable circumstances, makes the audacious decision to resist the Nazis, and survives the horrors of the war using an assumed identity. A riveting true story of courage, defiance and resilience, this timely testament from a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor is also filled with hope. Now more than ever, we all need to hear Selma Van de Perre's words and experiences. Her book is a treasure.”
—Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped