October 23, 2006

Faceless in New York

It was the difference of one night that spelled out life or death for Nicole Nieman. In the French town of Aix-les-Baines in 1943, she pestered her mother for one last sleepover with her dear friend Francoise, who was moving to Switzerland. Sleeping the night at the French girl's house meant that she wasn't home when the Gestapo moved in and carried off her mother, father and little sister to Auschwitz. For that one last night of fun and friendship Nicole paid an unfair and heavy price -- she was marginally safe, but frightened, out of place, and alone.

But the war in Europe was over soon. Nicole's aunt, whom she eventually found, moved into her parent's home with her boyfriend. Though in her own room, surrounded by the things the Gestapo hadn't looted from the house, Nicole didn't fit. Overseas with cousins who looked a little like her, but who had no idea of what she'd gone through, Nicole didn't fit. In the workplace, she's not quite like the other young girls, and slowly Nicole realizes that she's not like anyone else in the world. At the age of sixteen, Nicole finds herself Lost -- in America, among family and among friends. Without her parents, and left with guilt about how she treated her sister, Nicole doesn't know what to do to be found.

A quiet tale of innocence lost, of bravery and persistence, this true story is based on the experiences of Marilyn Sach's true-to-life neighbor, Fanny Krieger, and her first year in America, how she coped, and how she survived.

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