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The counterfeit countess : the Jewish woman who rescued thousands of Poles during the Holocaust / Elizabeth B. White and Joanna Sliwa.

White, Elizabeth B., (author.). Sliwa, Joanna, (author.).

"The astonishing story of Dr. Josephine Janina Mehlberg--a Jewish mathematician who saved thousands of lives in Nazi-occupied Poland by masquerading as a Polish aristocrat--drawing on Mehlberg's own unpublished memoir. World War II and the Holocaust have given rise to many stories of resistance and rescue, but The Counterfeit Countess is unique. It tells the remarkable, unknown story of "Countess Janina Suchodolska," a Jewish woman who rescued more than 10,000 Poles imprisoned by Poland's Nazi occupiers. Mehlberg operated in Lublin, Poland, headquarters of Aktion Reinhard, the SS operation that murdered 1.7 million Jews in occupied Poland. Using the identity papers of a Polish aristocrat, she worked as a welfare official while also serving in the Polish resistance. With guile, cajolery, and steely persistence, the "Countess" persuaded SS officials to release thousands of Poles from the Majdanek concentration camp. She won permission to deliver food and medicine--even decorated Christmas trees--for thousands more of the camp's prisoners. At the same time, she personally smuggled supplies and messages to resistance fighters imprisoned at Majdanek, where 63,000 Jews were murdered in gas chambers and shooting pits. Incredibly, she eluded detection, and ultimately survived the war and emigrated to the US. Drawing on the manuscript of Mehlberg's own unpublished memoir, supplemented with prodigious research, Elizabeth White and Joanna Sliwa, professional historians and Holocaust experts, have uncovered the full story of this remarkable woman. They interweave Mehlberg's sometimes harrowing personal testimony with broader historical narrative. Like The Light of Days, Schindler's List, and Irena's Children, The Counterfeit Countess is an unforgettable account of inspiring courage in the face of unspeakable cruelty"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9781982189129
  • Physical Description: xxix, 305 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
  • Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2024.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 253-290) and index.
Subject: Mehlberg, Josephine Janina, 1905-1969.
Holocaust survivors > United States > Biography.
Impostors and imposture > Biography.
Jewish mathematicians > Biography.
Jewish women > Biography.
World War, 1939-1945 > Underground movements > Poland.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) > Poland.
World War, 1939-1945 > Jews > Rescue > Poland.
Genre: Biographies.

Available copies

  • 1 of 2 copies available at York County Libraries.


  • 0 current holds with 2 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Dillsburg Area Public Library Adults Melberg Biography (Text) 34001001455086 Adult Area New Checked Out 03/02/2024
Martin Library Adults 940.53 WHI Life Times (Text) 33454005988852 Atrium Available -

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