Reviewed by Chris Longmuir
The Seven Year Dress was a moving story that cannot fail to draw the reader into the horrors of the holocaust.
We meet Helen Stein in the 1920s when life was good for her, although the shadow of Hitler’s Nazi Germany was creeping insidiously into her life. At first, these changes are unnoticeable and the disbelief of many of those who will be affected is well depicted. It is this disbelief that prevents many of them escaping while there is still time to do so.
Helen’s father, a well-respected attorney working for the government, loses everything, even his life. Her friend Max joins the Hitler Youth and then the SS, in an attempt to hide his homosexuality. But it is Max who comes to Helen’s rescue by hiding her in the cellar of his family’s farm, and he pays the price for this with his life. Helen and her brother remain in the cellar for 4 years before they are captured and sent to Auschwitz, where Helen, the only survivor of her family remains for the next three years, enduring all sorts of horrors before being rescued by the Russians.
Helen’s life is one of hardship, persecution, and torture, but her will to live ensures she is a survivor. This book is not easy to read, but I’m glad I did.