Stories are told to educate and inspire the listener to grow.
I am both storyteller and listener,
as I continue to learn from my life and its stories. Fanya's signature
The survival of my family
was the thought that guided my choices.
Fanya's Book, Love in a World of Sorrow
I hope the message
you take away from my story
is that you can come from anywhere,
even the most horrible conditions
and go on to achieve absolutely anything
that you set your mind to.
Love in a World of Sorrow
A Teenage Girl’s Holocaust Memoirs
by Fanya Gottesfeld Heller
is the brave, honest, and brutal revelation of the complexity of survival in this young person’s life during the Holocaust. Important as both a family history and more broadly as a contribution to the Holocaust record, this memoir, unflinchingly told more than four decades after it occurred, details what can happen in the most extreme and dire of human circumstances. “The unrelenting fear of death and gnawing pain of hunger led to desperate acts by many who survived; some stole, others lied and schemed. Still others took comfort in intimate relationships that might be considered illicit or misguided in ordinary times. It was not all pure and righteous, but it happened.”
Also a story of interfaith compassion, the author and her family were hidden by the efforts of a non-Jewish couple and a sympathetic Ukranian militiaman at the risk of their own lives. Their developing relationship and the harrowing events that followed lend the book an immediacy and jolt so many years later. Fanya Heller’s subtle depiction of her parents’ knowledge that it was a non-Jew’s love for their daughter that had moved him to hide them; their embarrassment and ultimate acceptance of the situation leads us to wonder how we would have acted under the same circumstances- as father, mother, or daughter.
PAPERBACK  280 pages
PUBLISHED BY DEVORA PUBLISHING to be reissued Spring, 2015 
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Skala, Fanya's Hometown
Chapter One (excerpt)
“They’re coming!” Aunt Lolla shouted.
“Run, get going!” echoed from every room. Through the morning haze I could make out figures in German uniforms…men with rifles and machine guns kicking in doors… huge dogs barked, and several that were unleashed darted in all directions.
Our family of sixteen had assembled the night before in the home of my mother’s parents, Jakob and Miriam Wasserman.
I don’t know how long it was until we heard footsteps above, the unmistakable tread of heavy boots mixed with lighter footwear. Aunt Malcia put a gag in a child’s mouth as we held our breath. I listened for the crack and splinter of breaking wood, but it didn’t come. “No Jews here,” I heard someone call out, and another voice echoed his report. “Bring a dog”, someone ordered. I held my breath as I heard a barking beast rampage above my head.
For survivors of the Holocaust
the obligation to bear witness is a means each day
of repaying God for the gift of life.
Chapter Six (excerpt)
The Germans ordered the Ukrainians to dig holes in every part of the barn in the belief that we had a hiding place under the ground or had dug a tunnel that led under the river to the forest.
As they dug with their pitchforks, straw and dirt piled up in front of the hole in the barn wall. They were sealing us in and covering our hideout without realizing it. We had barely enough air to breath, but at least our entry point was now invisible.
“Come out, Jews,” a militiaman called out in Ukrainian, “we’ll wrap you in white linen.” He was referring to burial shrouds. “It’s only a matter of minutes,” I said to myself, “it will be any second now. It will be quick, right in the courtyard, up against the wall.” A quick bullet to the brain would be merciful, I knew. So often had I imagined my last moments…