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Reviewed by Heidi M. Crabtree for Readers' Favorite
Beginning with a Foreword by the director of the Anti-Defamation League, this is an intense piece of work. Abrashe Szabrinski left four manuscripts behind when he passed, translated from the original Yiddish. One was a memoir type of manuscript while the others were shorter recollections. We Dared To Live: A Tale of Courage and Survival by Joe Sabrin and Chris Moore is a composition of these papers. Szabrinski was in the Polish Army and wound up in the Soviet military during WWII. These are his stories. What he saw and experienced is unforgettable, and the fact that he was a commander of a unit named "Death to Fascists" makes this all the more important. There are very detailed accounts here, especially when he talks about Vilna.
One does not need to be a history/geography expert to learn from this book. Anything that may need clarification, i.e. Kartuz-Bereza, or a name, has a boxed note on the same page explaining the significance or meaning. Szabrinski is very opinionated, especially when discussing one Isaac Wittenberg. Wittenberg was in demand by the Gestapo for his knowledge of operations in ghettos at Vilna. The Communists and others urged him to turn himself in, giving him poison should any torture become unbearable. Wittenberg did kill himself with it, and while the Communists claimed people were saved by his actions, Szabrinski argues otherwise.
Wonderful photos are included, including rare photos from Lithuania. A photo of the card of the "Death to Fascists" group is included. The book reads just like it should; one survivor's first hand account of exactly what he saw and lived through in those dark years. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Holocaust Studies, WWII, and/or Polish and Eastern European history. It's very important to remember and, as the survivors pass away, we need books like this so they are never forgotten.