I Have Lived A Thousand Years


Livia Bitton-Jackson

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Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. What is Elli's relationship with her mother like?
  2. How does the family almost lose Bubi in Budapest?
  3. Elli's father buries the family jewels in the cellar and asks Elli to remember the location. Elli cries out, "I don't want to know about the spot! I don't want to be the one to survive! I don't want to survive alone!" (pg. 28). Do you understand her fear and confusion?
  4. Elli is able to save her poems from the mass burning. Why does she feel guilty about that? (pg. 58-59)
  5. Elli is advised by the infamous Dr. Mengele to lie about her age, in order to survive in the work camps. Look up Joesph Mengele in an encyclopedia and learn what role he played in the Holocaust.
  6. After attacking an SS female guard, Elli is beaten nearly to death. When she awakes and finds that she has survived the attack she thinks, "A sense of triumph overwhelms the anguish. I have won. I have attained the first, and the greatest, triumph of my life. My whole being is awash with a sense of gratitude." (pg. 144). What has Elli won?
  7. React to the interaction between the German woman and Elli on page 199. How do you feel about the German people who did not protect the Jews from Hitler? How can a country heal after such a betrayal?
  8. In the forward to this memoir, the author writes, "For you, the third generation, the Holocaust has slipped into the realm of history, or legend . . .Reading my personal account I believe you will feel - you will know - that the Holocaust was neither a legend nor Hollywood fiction but a lesson for the future. A lesson to help future generations prevent the causes of the twentieth-century catastrophe from being transmitted into the twenty-first." How do you respond to this statement? Does the author achieve this?
  9. Is there hope in this story?
  10. What does the title of this memoir mean?
  11. Have you read other accounts of people who survived the Holocaust? How does Elli's story compare?
  12. Did you read the Appendix? Did you look up words in the glossary? Does having these "extras" at the end of the book make it more meaningful to you?

If you enjoyed this book, try

  • My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love After Auschwitz by Livia Bitton-Jackson
  • No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel
  • In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.