In the book, Divine Providence, Celebrating Humanity, Friedman shares the struggle she, then three siblings, and her mother faced to avoid being captured and sent to a concentration camp during World War II. The German/French Underground miraculously kept her father apprised of their whereabouts while they were separated, but their happy reunion was quickly dampened by the dire conditions they faced.
This well-crafted memoir shares the extreme difficulty of surviving during this dark time in world history. Throughout the story, the author includes her gratitude to the people in the countries that helped her and others in her predicament. When her family received a CARE package after the war on Christmas Eve from America, young Erika asked, “What is America?” Then she declared ”One day we’ll go to America where people care and help others too.“ Her family laughed at her bold statement, but through divine providence, she accomplished that very goal.
From the young girl with a look of determination to the mature woman with an unmistakable aura of peace, the book’s cover is a marvelous encapsulation of the author’s life. She was raised as a Christian while also treasuring her Jewish roots, and the symbols between the two pictures reflect not only her faith but the persecution she endured. The cross and ichthys, well-known symbols for Christianity, are connected to the symbol used to identify Jews persecuted during the Holocaust—the yellow Star of David with the word Jude (German for Jew) in the center. Finally, the bright light shining through the towering trees echoes the author’s descriptions of the brilliant light that would accompany supernatural encounters she experienced throughout her life.
What I liked most about this book was the author’s graceful nature; it passed through her writing, off the pages, and right into the heart of the reader. During times when food was difficult to come by, Erika went shopping and located a butcher shop and purchased one pound of meat with the only money she had. There was not enough meat for the family, and their father needed his strength as the head of the family, so her mother cooked the meat for him. She allowed Erika to be present while her father ate it, but her siblings had to stay in the living room to prevent them from seeing him eat. There were many emotions she could have felt—envy, anger, desperation—but she watched him eat with thankfulness that she could help to provide for her family. It did not feel like she was suppressing any resentment or looking for recognition. Her service to her family was enough. She inspired me with her humility.
This book is part history lesson, part memoir, and all faith. It is not necessary for the reader to have the same faith as the author. She is not proselytizing; she is merely sharing what life was like for her during this dreadful time. History lovers would enjoy this book, but I also recommend it to those who appreciate narratives about miraculous survival against all odds. This story is an important reminder of a time that should not be forgotten or refuted. There are, however, accounts of trauma and abuse. These scenes, while sometimes hard to read, are made much more palatable by the love and the grace in the author’s presentation. This book is a gift to humanity and can become a classic. I recommend it to anyone who likes books about World War II.
‘Divine Providence, Celebrating Humanity’ is available at local bookstores and on Amazon.
For more information, please visit https://www.amazon.co.uk/Divine-Providence-Erika-Ursula-Friedman/dp/0964806967#ace-g7403487170
Company Name: Divine Providence
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