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Hidden Gold: A True Story of the Holocaust

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The Gold family finds their peaceful lives shattered when Poland is invaded by the Nazis during WWII.

It's 1942, and the Nazis are rounding up Jews in the Polish town of Pinczow for transport to the Treblinka death camp. Leib and Hanna Gold though they had more time to develop an escape plan. While Leib leaves to negotiate a hiding place, Hanna and their children, Shoshana, Esther, and twelve-year-old David, steal away in the night to find shelter with a family friend. Leib promises to join them in the morning, but when daylight breaks, Leib had vanished. Hanna must flee to a safer refuge or she and her children will perish.

So begins a true story of terror, suspense, and deplorable hardship that lasts more than two years. In a place where everyone is afraid, neighbors turn on neighbors, gentiles betray Jews, and Jews victimize each other, hoping to survive the Holocaust. David Gold's memories of his formative years during World War II are captured by his niece, author Ella Burakowski, in this heart-stopping testament to the human spirit.

314 pages, Paperback

First published October 2, 2015

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About the author

Ella Burakowski

1 book79 followers
Most people know me as Ask Ella in The Canadian Jewish News, I've been writing an advice column in The CJN for the past 20 years. Along with my column, I'm the Operations Manager at the paper, having grown to that position through many years of working at different jobs at the paper.

In 2020 as the Covid pandemic became a reality and the newspaper business was going the way of the dinosaurs, The CJN was forced to close, which put me into retirement.

I was born to Holocaust survivors, Shoshana Gold and Fishl Burakowski, who met after the war in Foehrenwald, a displaced person's camp in Germany. Together they smuggled on an Aliyah Bet ship to make a new life for themselves in Israel. Ella and her older sister Sarah, were both born in Israel, before the family moved to Canada.

When I was 14, my mother died in front of me of a massive heart attack. When she died, she took with her every story, every experience of how she survived the Holocaust. She took with her the reason she used to scream in the night, the reason I was different than the other kids. There was so much I didn’t know.

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I was interested in the story of how she survived, but it was too late to hear it from her.
My Uncle David Gold, my mother’s brother was still alive. Using his memories I followed their journey through the Holocaust. I felt compelled to write my family’s story while he was still able to describe the events my family endured during one of the most horrific periods in human history. He passed away in February of 2017.

Writing Hidden Gold has allowed me to reconnect with my mother and walk in her footsteps through the darkest time in her life.

As a 2nd-generation survivor, I am all too aware that I am a unique link to the past and the future. Very soon there will be no one left to directly tell these harrowing stories of survival. By writing Hidden Gold, I am passing on this remarkable story, in the hope of teaching and influencing for the better, the next generations.

Hidden Gold has won an honorable book award from the Ontario Library Association and has been read by thousands of kids. My family’s suffering is used to teach so we can truly say “Never Again.”

There is a free study guide available through the website www.hiddengoldbook.com

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5 stars
159 (55%)
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86 (29%)
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33 (11%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Stacey B.
287 reviews64 followers
February 25, 2022
After finishing this book, I went back to read the author's bio again on her profile page.
It's very difficult to be able to wrap your arms around someone else's history. But I see
the transparency from mother to author in this emotional well written book.
Ella, you were born from a hero.

Profile Image for Emma.
2 reviews1 follower
October 5, 2015
I saw a lot of hype in my online reading group about this book and decided to give it a try. Read it in one day! It was an easy read. Didn't realize it was a book for young adults until I went back to see more about it after I finished.

The first couple of chapters set up life in pre-war in Poland for the Gold family and you get a glimpse into the affluent life of a Jewish family. There is a powerful message in the book, one of love, caring for each other and family loyalty. I really liked that the author focused on how the family managed to traverse their way through peril after peril, focusing on their loyalty to each other, rather than on the sensationalism of blood and gore to sell books.

How did this family stay together along with two strangers in a cramped enclosure for over two years? How does anyone do that, fighting the elements, the hunger and boredom and constant fear of being caught? And the farmer and his wife, they were not bad people, they were scared too. In the beginning I thought of them as inhumane for extorting a huge sum of money monthly from a family in desperation, but as I read on, I came to like them too. They were also victims in this war. They had to survive as well, also with three children.

It wasn't until the last chapter which reads more like an epilogue, that I realized the relationship of the author to the people I had just come to know. She is the daughter of the eldest child, Shoshana. I admired her strength and her will to do whatever she had to for the sake of her family. The content of the book is also a great source of history and although I knew much of the individual events, I am now able to put them in context with a timeline.

Being a mother, I was most affected by Hanna, the family matriarch. I try to put myself in her shoes, what would I have done in her place? It's difficult to summarize this story, because I can't capture the emotional feeling I experienced as the family was separated early on from Leib, the father, and their constant betrayal by Poles and by fellow Jews who were also fighting for their lives.

Hidden Gold left me thinking about myself and my daughters and what I would be like if placed in Hanna's predicament today. Great read. I plan to read it again with my daughter in a couple of years when she's a little older.
Profile Image for Natalie.
632 reviews51 followers
November 21, 2015
There is no way to justly review a true testament except with thanks and gratitude. Thank you Ella for documenting the story of your mother's family. I appreciate how their terrible holocaust loss of father, home and so much more is here recorded in an accessible yet very respectful way .
Profile Image for Sally.
Author 6 books140 followers
September 23, 2015
The true story of a Polish Jewish family forced into hiding - the oldest daughter is the author's own mother, and the story is based on the memories of her younger brother, so you know at least those two survive!

The family, after being shunted around a little, end up hiding with two other Jews in a secret compartment off a barn on a man's farm... they remain in that tiny space for over two years! At first they have enough money to pay the family handsomely for their keep, but then the money runs out and food becomes even scarcer and things start to look as grim for the family as they would if they weren't in hiding at all.

I enjoyed this, but did find the writing made it feel as though the book was aimed at a younger reading level than I was expecting.
1 review1 follower
August 20, 2015
Gripping and moving, Hidden Gold had me captivated right till the last page. I related to Shoshana who was the eldest of the three siblings. Her outward courage while she was petrified deep down made me feel very emotional towards her.

It was interesting to read how a perfectly normal family, with the kids arguing and fighting while the parents worked, turned into a horrendous nightmare because they were Jewish. The evil and hatred of that time in history is very difficult to accept. I've read many Holocaust novels, most about escaping the camps. This was was about a family in hiding with another couple, a Jewish couple who were not the Gold family's friends, but their enemies. It's hard to judge because when your life is at stake who knows how far you would go to save yourself.

Thought provoking and intense, I couldn't put it down. It was an easy read, perfect for a younger audience. The language was easy and the story focused on the bond of the Gold family rather than the atrocities of that period.
Profile Image for Barbra.
1,200 reviews4 followers
August 17, 2015
This book follows the story of the Gold family as they are in flight from the Nazis, struggling to survive. Desperate to find a safe place they discover there are very few people they can trust. It is a simply told story that grabs at your heart and is a reminder of the horrors of war and the bond of family love. This true account is geared to readers 14 to adult.
13 reviews
October 1, 2017

Engaging, well written, I kept thinking, could all this be true? Such determination and love of family got them through the worst of times. I will not forget this book just as I am compelled to shout to the world, Never Forget!
4 reviews3 followers
June 2, 2016
Wow, I have read many a Holocaust book, but this...you feel the pain this family goes through. Wow, very well written.
364 reviews1 follower
August 26, 2019
The story of a Jewish family who had to go into hiding for 26 months and their indominatable spirit that allowed them to survive.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13k reviews268 followers
June 12, 2020
The Gold family lived a privileged and pleasant life in Pinczow, Poland, but all that changed in 1942 when the Germans invaded the country. Suddenly, it wasn't safe to go on the streets, and it was not clear whom could be trusted. As the Nazis began rounding up Jews for transportation to death camps, Leib Gold, the patriarch, realizes that the family is no longer safe in their home. They slip out under cover of darkness with Leib trying to find a place where they can hide. While he is on his mission, the group must separate, but he never joins them as he had promised. Hannah Gold, the mother, and her children, Shoshana, Esther, and David, 12, travel onward to find a place that would be safe for them while waiting for Leib. More than once, others disappoint them, and they eventually find sanctuary on the Stanczyk family farm. The farmer builds a small hiding place in his barn where the Golds and two others are able to stay for more than two years. Of course, the Golds must pay handsomely for this refuge. The author captures the fears of those times as well as the boredom and uncomfortable conditions under which the Golds are living. Part of me recognized the risks their benefactors were taking by hiding them, but another part of me felt sickened by their willingness to take advantage of the Golds. Once their money runs out, I was fearful that they would be left to their own devices. The hopelessness and hunger that the family experiences as the months pass and their food rations are cut even further are described in vivid detail, making this a story worth remembering. Young readers will surely ask themselves what they would have done if they had been the Golds or the Stanczyks and possibly reflect on how easy it is to lack compassion toward someone if you don't take the time to know them and see them as human beings. Some of the descriptions of the horrors the Golds saw as they moved from town are hard to read, but books like this need to be read as a vivid of reminder of the human capacity for cruelty but also for compassion, and, in the case of the Golds, for forgiveness.
June 12, 2022
Though it took me awhile to finish this audiobook that was due to my schedule not my interest in the story of the Gold family. I found this a deeply engrossing journey of courage and commitment to family and to survival. The audiobook was so effectively and expressively narrated I felt like the narrator had been there with the Gold’s.
Profile Image for Anna.
203 reviews5 followers
July 17, 2019
This is the first holocaust survivor story I’ve read where the experiences were not within concentration camps or ghettos. A story of survival in hiding. Very well written, moves very quickly, easy to read and follow. I was on the edge of my seat at every chapter and could not put it down. Highly recommend if you are interested in this genre.
Profile Image for Pam.
4,314 reviews40 followers
August 17, 2017
Hidden Gold: A True Story of the Holocaust is by Ella Burakowski. Ella Burakowski has written this book about her Mother (Shoshana) and her family’s struggle to survive the Holocaust. This book is written for young adults and it suitable for ages 14 through adult. Although it deals with a very harsh subject and details their struggles, it avoids graphic depictions and incidents. Yet as you read, you experience the horrors of the war, dealing with disreputable people, starvation and depravation. The book catches your attention from the first page and holds you in its grasp throughout the book. It is extremely difficult to put down as you keep wanting to find out what happens to the family. I was particularly intrigued by the rebbe who told David that he would survive. How was it possible that he knew this by looking at the young boy? Stranger things have happened, I guess; but this statement really made an impression on me as it did on David.
This book is well-written and definitely deals well with a difficult subject. It is another view of being hidden with your family than that given by Anne Frank. Interestingly, David is about the same age as Anne Frank was at the start of the war. Their lives were not so different before the war; but their time in hiding was definitely different and, of course, the outcome was different. It is an action packed historical story that reads like fiction but is true.
149 reviews
February 3, 2021
Incredible. The book is well written and the horrors of war and hatred are well portrayed.
The book makes you reevaluate your own struggles and makes you appreciate people's struggles.
39 reviews
March 28, 2017
Excellent book

I really love this book I had a hard time putting it down I don't know how they survived as long as they did a must-read
Profile Image for Lynn Mcgilvray-saltzman.
13 reviews1 follower
January 15, 2018
A tale of suffering and ultimate survival

No one survived the Holocaust without tremendous planning , endurance, the help of others and a strong will to live. This is a true story of a
2 families squeezed into a tiny hiding place in a barn for 2 years without ever leaving the barn. Surviving at times on one loaf of bread that had to feed 6 people for two weeks.
29 reviews
August 24, 2015
Hidden Gold tells the true story of the Gold family, a prominent Jewish family that lived in Poland during World War II. The book, written by a granddaughter of one of the family members, is based on family interviews and includes photographs and an afterward about the survivors. The Gold's devotion to their family drives their plans as they try to find a way to escape the Nazis, even as more and more of the Jewish community are being killed or sent to concentration camps. The book is well written and engages the reader from the very beginning. Hidden Gold will pair well with The Diary of Anne Frank and would make an excellent addition to reading lists for students interested in reading more about the Holocaust.
Profile Image for Karin.
761 reviews43 followers
November 11, 2017
I have read so many books about the holocaust and yet i keep learning new things. This story is about the Golds, a wealthy family in Poland who were caught in the crossfire of WW2. A family hid the Golds for 2 years in their barn, not comfortably, not out of love or kindness but for money and goodwill after the war.

This book is well -written- except the end. I want to know more about their after-war lives especially Shoshana's life in Israel and the life of the family who hid them since they were now in Communist Poland. But that would probably cover another book.

An exciting story told well.
180 reviews24 followers
January 30, 2016
Wonderful book! One of the better books I've read about the Holocaust. It holds your interest from page one to the end. The fact that it is a true story really brings the characters to your heart. God bless these people who've suffered so much.
I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.
Profile Image for Marsmannix.
457 reviews37 followers
January 12, 2016
I grabbed this book not seeing that is a "teen" book.
However, i was pleasantly surprised.
This is a page-turner of a book that any casual reader will enjoy. Granted it's written for young people, but it's so well paced, and has a great dramatic arc, that any aspiring writer should read & draw lessons from it.
And the story itself is compelling.

Profile Image for Stephanie.
755 reviews5 followers
January 7, 2016
A wonderful story of how a mother and her children survived by hiding in Poland. The horror of the holocaust is not just the Nazis, but that many other people were very antisemitic also. Even worse is that survivors returned to find their property confiscated and wrongs were never made right.
Profile Image for Julia.
82 reviews18 followers
January 20, 2016
The story is compelling but the style was not to my taste. It was written more like a fiction book than a non-fiction book. I just don't like the idea of recreating whole conversations and peoples inner thoughts in a non-fiction book. It just doesn't gel with the genre.
63 reviews
March 11, 2016
A very compelling read. I found myself turning to the pictures in the back over and over again as I read. After I was done, I looked up the locations mentioned in the book. I was struck by the fact that they were in hiding only 11 kilometers away from their family home.
1 review
March 14, 2016
Gripping read. I still find it hard to believe that the characters in the book are real people who lived through these experiences. A must read.
16 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2018
This was a very book about one families experience of he Holocaust. Normally when I read books about historical events I get bored and I lose interest about reading them, but with this book that did not happen. It was about a Jewish family who lived in Poland and they had a very good life where they lived comfortably. But then the Germans took over the town that they lived in and eventually they were forced to leave their home and flee the town. They had to find places to hide and go to escape the Germans who were killing Jews. Also they were taking the Jews that they came across to concentration camps. The family consisted of the mom, dad, the son David, and the two daughters Shoshana and Esther. In an effort to save his family the father Leib separated from his family and they never saw him again. The rest of the family moved from place to place but eventually staying in a barn of a farmer whom they paid rent to each month. They stayed there for over two years and they made it through the war. It was very good and very compelling. I recommend it as a historical fiction book to read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brooke.
297 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2022
I listened to the audiobook (which helped with the pronunciation of Yiddish names and words, and Polish phrases, etc). I’ve read a lot of historical fiction that took place during WWII and the Holocaust, but this one cut a little deeper bc it is a true story. It’s horrible what the Jews had to endure. This story was like a miracle combination of lucky breaks, the advantage of having money, and sheer determination for the Gold family. David (the son) was only a teenager during that time, and at age 85 told his niece about it. She gathered more information about it from her cousins (who got the info from her aunt). David even went back with his grandson to see the barn where they hid for 26 months.

I missed out of seeing the photos, since I did audiobook. And the sucky thing was how life turned out in the end to some of these survivors (stupid heart attacks or cancers…Ugg). After all they’d been through!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elise Maria.
53 reviews
May 26, 2022
The story and journey of this family's survival of WW2 is hard to wrap your head around. It's humbling, heartbreaking and eye-opening to the terrors some people have endured and continue to endure.

The writing of this story, however, not great. 5 stars if it was written a bit better. Although, to give credit, I believe the author has only written this book, and for good reason.

Still worth a read if you're into WW2 novels.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews

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