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    By Dan Luiton


    Dan Luiton

    NOT IN VAIN by Ada Aharoni tells the story about a German Nurse called Thea Wolf living in Alexandria, Egypt during World War Two. This book contains tales about how a brave nurse succeeded to help Jews escaping from the horrors of Europe during World War Two, for the only reason of helping a human being. As a Mexican man I rarely show any emotions but this was the first book which made me cry, because she saved so many people who were destined to die.

    At the beginning, it seemed not so interesting to read, because it was like a common story about a Jewish girl who wanted to become a nurse in a conservative society, who then went to Egypt. Then, when she started talking about all the stories of her patients, I as a reader could not stop reading. The stories were so interesting and some even made me cry of happiness that those refugees who were destined to die were saved by her.

    One of the stories that moved me so much was the NIGHT OF THE STAIRCASE, a story about a mother that just gave birth to a beautiful girl and was in deep sadness. She was sad because her husband forced to stop working because now she was already a mother. She did not want to stop working, because when she was young her mother left her dad, and she couldn’t do anything because her husband told her to stop working and she didn’t want to end like her mother. However, she did work after all because that was her joy and her husband had to understand that.

    This story moves me in particular because my mom was forced by my dad to stop working when she had my first brother. Yet, she started working twenty years later. I can relate to Emily because my mom like her, was so deeply sad because she couldn’t work. However, it’s something common in our culture, women have to submit to their husbands. Even though, my mom had a degree and my dad did not have one, she needed to stop working. The author, Ada Aharoni, was right when she shows that women should work too. Why is this backward cultural idea that women should not work still exist. Women of course, should work if they want to, just like the men! I think this story in addition of the story of my mother, has made me a strong supporter of feminism.

    The most moving story of all in the book was THE ASTOUNDING PANCHO EPISODE, about four Czechoslovakian Jews who tried to save their friends that were shipwrecked on an abandoned island. Hundreds of Czechoslovakian Jews were trying to escape the horrors of Nazi Europe, in an old ship, but the ship sank and they landed on the nearest desert island, somewhere in the Mediterranean. The four young Jews left the island on a raft to look for help for their friends and relatives. They were sailing for two days without water or food until they were picked up by a British war ship who thought they were German spies.

    When they got to Alexandria, the heroic head nurse, Thea Wolf, tried to help them. She went to the British forces in Alexandria and told them the sad story of the Pancho. They sent two planes to look for them, but did not find any island with shipwrecked people. An Italian warship fortunately spotted and saved them. The captain name Carlo, took them aboard and fed them, to Sicily that there they would be safe if they did not say that they were Jews. They found work in Sicily and stayed there all through the war years.

    Half century later, when Ada Aharoni published the book NOT IN VAIN with the story, someone by the name of Abraham called her and told her that he was one of those Jews in the island and told he reported the story how they were saved. The story does not end there; the survivors of the Pancho met in Jerusalem in the congress which Thea and the mayor of Jerusalem organized. They were delighted to meet with each other because many people thought they were dead. It was so moving that they were able to find each other after so long. The reason I love the story is because there could be good and kind people even if they are enemies. In this case it was a good hearted Italian captain by the name of Carlo.

    It is a unique story which tells another side of World War Two that needs to be written down in the book of history. Moreover, as a Mexican that usually hides my feelings and almost never cries, yet this book made me cry. For these reasons, and because it very well written and told, I think this biography of Thea Wolf – The Mother Theresa of the Middle East, should be read and enriched by all .







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