asked, “Who is a heroine of the Holocaust?” most people immediately
respond: Anne Frank. With the publication of her diary after the war she
female icon of the Holocaust, though she was only a child. There were
women who were also heroines, and their courageous stories are only now
coming to light. “The fate of Jewish women and the specific problems
they faced is a topic that has barely been touched
upon,” says Professor Yehuda Bauer of Yad Vashem who is an
international authority on the Holocaust. “I have read many accounts,
but this one (Dancing on aPowder Keg) by someone who did not survive, and whose story has been reconstructed, is exceptional.” he says.
Ilse Weber, from Czechoslovakia, deserves recognition.
Dancing on a Powder Keg which contains 100
letters and 63 poems written by Ilse between 1933 and 1944 will endear
her to the hearts of American readers. This is the first time Ilse's
letters, songs, and poems, originally written in German, have been
published in English. Michal Schwartz is the translator, editor, and
she penned the Foreword. The book contains photographs, drawings, and
two background essays by leading experts. This project has been Michal's
Ilse was a wife and mother, a radio personality, a musician, an author and a published poet.
Dancing on a Powder Keg reveals her
multi-faceted life living in Prague before the war. It depicts how her
family, career and emotions unraveled as the Nazis gained power.
her husband Willy, and her younger son Tommy were imprisoned in the
Theresienstadt ghetto from 1942-1944. Ilse worked in the children's
sang to the young patients. She risked her life writing poetry about
the dire circumstances. Language offered a refuge and consolation to
Ilse and her fellow inmates benefited from her writing. Ilse's poems
were recited and memorized by thousands of people
in the ghetto, and survivors say the poems kept their spirits alive.
1944, Ilse volunteered to accompany the sick ghetto children on their
transport to Auschwitz. Upon arrival, she sang her beautiful lullaby,
Wiegala, to calm thechildren as they were led to the gas chambers. Both Ilse and her son Tommy perished along with them.
Wiegela has been recorded and performed by singers across Europe. It is currently featured in the Tony nominated Broadway show
Indecent. Ilse's poignant poem Letter to My Sonis
set to music and sung on a YouTube video, with Ilse's grandson in the
audience. Ilse's family and the miraculous discovery of the letters
provides another compelling aspect of