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999
Cover of 999
999
The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz
Borrow Borrow
A PEN America Literary Award Finalist
A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee
An Amazon Best of the Year Selection
The untold story of some of WW2's most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly resonant true story that everyone should know.
On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women, many of them teenagers, boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service and left their parents' homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Instead, the young women were sent to Auschwitz. Only a few would survive. Now acclaimed author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women's history.

"Intimate and harrowing. . . . This careful, sympathetic history illuminates an incomprehensible human tragedy."
Publishers Weekly


"Against the backdrop of World War II, this respectful narrative presents a compassionate and meticulous remembrance of the young women profiled throughout. Recommended for all collections."
—Library Journal

"Staggering . . . profound. [Macadam's] book also offers insight into the passage of these women into adulthood, and their children, as 'secondhand survivors.'"
—Gail Sheehy, New York Times bestselling author of Passages and Daring: My Passages

"Heather Dune Macadam's 999 reinstates the girls to their rightful place in history."
—Foreword Reviews

"An important addition to the annals of the Holocaust, as well as women's history. Not everyone could handle such material, but Heather Dune Macadam is deeply qualified, insightful, and perceptive."
—Susan Lacy, creator of the American Masters series and filmmaker

"The story of these teenage girls is truly extraordinary. Congratulations to Heather Dune Macadam for enabling the rest of us to sit down and just marvel at how on earth they did it."
—Anne Sebba, New York Times bestselling author of Les Parisiennes and That Woman

"An important contribution to the literature on women's experiences."
—Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director, Remember the Women Institute
A PEN America Literary Award Finalist
A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee
An Amazon Best of the Year Selection
The untold story of some of WW2's most hidden figures and the heartbreaking tragedy that unites them all. Readers of Born Survivors and A Train Near Magdeburg will devour the tragic tale of the first 999 women in Auschwitz concentration camp. This is the hauntingly resonant true story that everyone should know.
On March 25, 1942, nearly a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women, many of them teenagers, boarded a train in Poprad, Slovakia. Believing they were going to work in a factory for a few months, they were eager to report for government service and left their parents' homes wearing their best clothes and confidently waving good-bye. Instead, the young women were sent to Auschwitz. Only a few would survive. Now acclaimed author Heather Dune Macadam reveals their stories, drawing on extensive interviews with survivors, and consulting with historians, witnesses, and relatives of those first deportees to create an important addition to Holocaust literature and women's history.

"Intimate and harrowing. . . . This careful, sympathetic history illuminates an incomprehensible human tragedy."
Publishers Weekly


"Against the backdrop of World War II, this respectful narrative presents a compassionate and meticulous remembrance of the young women profiled throughout. Recommended for all collections."
—Library Journal

"Staggering . . . profound. [Macadam's] book also offers insight into the passage of these women into adulthood, and their children, as 'secondhand survivors.'"
—Gail Sheehy, New York Times bestselling author of Passages and Daring: My Passages

"Heather Dune Macadam's 999 reinstates the girls to their rightful place in history."
—Foreword Reviews

"An important addition to the annals of the Holocaust, as well as women's history. Not everyone could handle such material, but Heather Dune Macadam is deeply qualified, insightful, and perceptive."
—Susan Lacy, creator of the American Masters series and filmmaker

"The story of these teenage girls is truly extraordinary. Congratulations to Heather Dune Macadam for enabling the rest of us to sit down and just marvel at how on earth they did it."
—Anne Sebba, New York Times bestselling author of Les Parisiennes and That Woman

"An important contribution to the literature on women's experiences."
—Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel, founder and executive director, Remember the Women Institute
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About the Author-
  • Heather Dune Macadam's first book, co-authored with Rena Kornreich Gelissen, was Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz. Rena's Promise has been published throughout the world. Director of the Rena's Promise Foundation, Macadam also sits on the advisory board of the Cities of Peace Auschwitz and is the producer/director of the documentary film 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz. Her work has been recognized by Yad Vashem in the U.K., the USC Shoah Foundation, the National Museum of Jewish History in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the Memorial Museum of Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, The New York Times, The Guardian, on NPR, and in other major media outlets. She divides her time between New York and Herefordshire, England. Visit 999thefirstwomeninauschwitz on Facebook, @heatherdune on Twitter, or www.999themovie.com.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    October 11, 2019

    When the families of unmarried Jewish women in small towns across what was then Slovakia were notified that their young daughters and sisters were needed for three months of "government work" at an undisclosed site, neither they nor neighbors and friends were overly concerned. They became part of the first convoys to Nazi concentration and death camps, which arrived at Poland in early 1942, and few survived. The inhumane conditions experienced by the first women to arrive at Auschwitz are recounted in this detailed narrative from Macadam (coauthor, Rena's Promise), whose work is based on personal interviews with survivors and families, along with testimonies and other archival records from around the world. Individual stories of bravery, courage, and terror present a full picture of the horror of the Holocaust as witnessed on a distinctly personal level. Includes a foreword by human rights journalist Caroline Moorehead (Village of Secrets; A Bold and Dangerous Family; A House in the Mountains). VERDICT Against the backdrop of World War II, this respectful narrative presents a compassionate and meticulous remembrance of the young women profiled throughout. Recommended for all collections.--Linda Frederiksen, formerly with Washington State Univ. Lib., Vancouver

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 18, 2019
    In this intimate and harrowing account, historian and novelist Macadam (coauthor, Rena’s Promise) reconstructs the lives of dozens of young Jewish women who were on the first convoy to arrive at Auschwitz in March 1942. Collected from villages in eastern Slovakia, the unmarried women were told that they’d be working for the government in occupied Poland for three months. In reality, the Slovakian government had agreed to pay the Nazis 500 reichsmarks (roughly $200) per “contract” laborer. Of those on the train, sisters Edith and Lea Friedmann were nearly exempted, but their paperwork didn’t come through in time; Rena Kornreich had escaped Poland for the relative safety of Slovakia and was planning her wedding when she boarded the transport to Auschwitz. Macadam writes that many of the women thought they were going on an adventure; none were prepared to haul dead bodies from crematoriums or tear down buildings with their bare hands. Macadam doesn’t shy away from the gruesome details but also notes the women’s close-knit bonds and willingness to protect each other when they were sick. She movingly describes how the legacy of trauma has impacted the children and grandchildren of the handful of survivors. This careful, sympathetic history illuminates an incomprehensible human tragedy.

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2019
    A fresh, remarkable story of Auschwitz on the 75th anniversary of its liberation. Dune Macadam (co-author: Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz, 1995) chronicles the tale of nearly 1,000 Jewish women from Slovakia, the first women to be shipped to the German death camp. While not the majority of inmates, a majority of the Slovakian Jews were sent there. The author makes great use of her "interviews with witnesses, survivors, and families, and USC Shoah Archive testimonies." Most readers have learned about the many shocking aspects of the camps, including slave labor and other countless deprivations, but the author shows us how every time a train pulled in, there would be a selection, for work or extermination; the same would occur at morning roll call. There was no rhyme nor reason to the selection process; it was often just a whim. Those women in this first shipment were tattooed beginning with the number 1,000, but within a year, they were numbering nearly 39,000. As Dune Macadam notes, there were some work assignments that were safer and slightly more comfortable: sewing, laundry, mail, clerical, and hospital. The most sought-after assignment was sorting the clothes of new arrivals. Often, the women would find a piece of bread or other contraband they could carefully smuggle out. One woman found a tube of diamonds. When she was caught, she claimed she was saving it for one of the Nazis in charge; she got off, and he took leave, bought a farm, and never returned. Throughout the book, readers will be consistently astounded by the strength of these women. They fought desperately to survive and supported each other, often literally holding up friends and hiding sick inmates. "My goal," writes Dune Macadam in an author's note, "is to build as complete a picture as I can of the girls and young women of the first 'official' Jewish transport to Auschwitz." It's not easy reading, but consider that goal achieved. An uplifting story of the herculean strength of young girls in a staggeringly harrowing situation.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz
Heather Dune Macadam
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