Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons

A Romanian Jewish Girl’s Survival through the Holocaust in Transnistria and its Rippling Effect on the Second Generation

Table of contents
Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons
A Romanian Jewish Girl’s Survival through the Holocaust in Transnistria and its Rippling Effect on the Second Generation

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About the book


When Sophica was abruptly separated from her father as a toddler, she found a haven in Grandmother Gitté. But one sunny day in July, when she was six years old, gendarmes marching and shouting in the streets stopped her dreamy childhood and her hopes to go to school and to be a big girl like her sister. She was deported together with her mother and the whole of the Jewish community of Mihaileni, Romania. On foot, through icy fields, they arrived in eastern Ukraine, a strip of land called Transnistria. Death, illness, brutality, shame, became her daily scenes. Sophica suffered hunger and fear but kept her hopes and sanity, albeit losing her sister and her father and witnessing her mother being viciously attacked. She survived Typhus and starvation by being strong and quiet. Herman was a jolly little boy who didn’t care much needing to wear the yellow star and being forbidden from school. He continued playing outside with his friends while his father and brother were sent to a labor camp. At the age of 14, when the Second World War ended, he joined a Jewish youth movement and embarked on a ship to the Promised Land. However, their journey was interrupted and they were taken to a British detention camp in Cyprus. Sophica and Herman were given new names, Shulamit and Tzvi. They met and made a home in Israel. Shulamit/Sophica never mentioned her sad childhood, but the essence of the past found its ways out. Sixty-five years after those events, her daughter comes across a family secret and starts asking questions, inducing Shulamit to break her silence and become again the frightened little Sophica. This book tells her moving childhood story.
The author

About the author

Avital E. M. Baruch, Shulamit and Tzvi's daughter, was born in 1957 in Haifa, Israel, where she grew up. She studied Mathematics and Education at Haifa University. In the Nineties she moved to England.

Avital embarked on the project of this book as a literary memorial to her aunt, her grandfather, and her great-grandmother, who were denied a proper burial. She dedicated six years to the sensitive task of interviewing her mother and other members of the family and to researching the historical background of the Holocaust in Romania, especially the deportations to Transnistria.

Avital now lives in London with her husband. They have four grown-up children and five grandchildren.


“A testament, a pilgrimage, a journey of discovery and redemption, a beautifully crafted tapestry of stories of suffering, bravery, death, and survival. Oral history does not come better than this beautifully written book, a daughter's labour of devotion to her Holocaust survivor mother and a gift of love to her children and her readers.”—Yiannis Gabriel, PhD, Professor at the University of Bath, author of Myths, Stories and Organization

“Baruch recounts in fine details a family story which leads from the shtetl Mihaileni in north-eastern Romania in the 1930s to the horrors of the labor camps of Transnistria and from there to a new life in Israel. Based on oral history, this book offers very personal insights into the Holocaust perpetrated by Romania. It is sad and moving, but also carries a message of hope.”—Dr. Simon Geissbühler, historian, political scientist, and diplomat, Switzerland

“Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons offers a true work of love in honor of her parents and all survivors, a work that deserves to be read, considered, and reread. Her masterful narrative moves across Romania to Cyprus and Israel, capturing the voice of generations that experienced the Holocaust and those who grew up in its shadow.“—Maura Hametz, PhD, Professor of History at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, USA, Co-Editor of Jewish Intellectual Women in Central Europe, 1860-2000

“This is not just another book about the Holocaust or the history of the Jews in Romania, Bessarabia and Bukovina. It is a testimony written by a member of ‘The Second Generation’.
This book has a special meaning for me, being part of this generation. My family suffered a similar ordeal, losing some of its members. My aunt and my cousin where killed in a concentration camp in Transnistria and others survived the evacuation to Siberia.
Reading it gives not only an insight to what happened during and after the war, but also a voice to those who could not speak before. It reveals the hidden past, filled with pain and sorrow, of an entire generation, as they were reluctant, in many cases, to talk in public about what they went through. Nevertheless, it is also a story of hope and eventual happiness.
Avital Baruch as the author does a marvellous job in being partly historian and partly a story teller, presenting that part of Jewish history with a clear vision and great personal dedication.
This book is a must for all those who study that period of time and are trying to understand what happened in Europe in those dark years of WWII. It brings another piece of the puzzle from that region in a perspective that was not covered that much in the past.”—Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi, PhD, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel

“The time is near when there will be no more survivors –and witnesses – of the Holocaust. It is therefore of the highest importance that the generations of children and grandchildren make every effort to collect and safeguard documents and testimonies – and that they reflect on the question what this memory work means for their own lives. With ‘Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons‘, Avital E.M. Baruch has set an example for this painful and yet rewarding task. In addition, her book sheds light on one of the lesser known territories of destruction, despair, and hope in Europe.”—Professor Joachim Schlör, Professor of Modern Jewish/non-Jewish Relations in History at the University of Southampton, Director of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations

"This profound story has etched its impression greatly on my mind. Such memoirs from the Second World War must not be forgotten. The book is full with sensitive touches of the Second Generation, as reflected by a daughter, the narrator. Avital Baruch puts in the spotlight the heroes of incurable lost childhood, engaging us with their journey of survival and struggle for new life and hope."—Dr. Dorit Zilberman, author, literary scholar and critic, Vice Chair of The Israeli Society of Authors

“Reading this book brought back old pains and feelings that will never be forgotten. Avital vibrantly describes those dark and difficult times, from being expelled from home through the agony in Transnistria. It is a great contribution to the memory of Jewish communities that perished. For a daughter to recount such horrors is not obvious. Avital merits great appreciation and gratitude for bringing these memories to light. I hope that the result of her endeavour will inspire others, so that Holocaust remembrance will be saved and passed on from generation to generation.”—Iosef (Iulku) Klein, Chair of The Jewish Association of Kimpolung-Bukovina and the Surroundings, Retired Lieutenant Colonel

"Avital Baruch’s flowing self-assured writing, takes the reader to dark worlds caused by hate and fear. This is not ancient history, it happened not long ago, in the generation of our parents. 'Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons' is a chilling literary and biographical evidence that all human beings should remember."—Michel Haddad, author, retired senior Police officer, council member of The Israeli Society of Authors
Additional Information

Additional Information

Delivery time 2-3 Tage / 2-3 days
Author Avital Baruch
Number of pages 216
Language English
Publication date Apr 30, 2017
Weight (kg) 0.2800
ISBN-13 9783838209982