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'These short stories are autobiographical but I am not their main sublect. Some pay homage to remarkable people (have known and loved. Some describe unusual places and events and are a kind of testimony.' But, contrary to what Halina says, none are 'commonplace' -- whether her stories tell of the gentile nanny who followed Halina's family into the ghetto; the Russian soldier who saved her at the end of the war and nursed her back to health; or the char ladies of Collins Street who first called the new immigrant a 'refol before taking her into their hearts. Adopted mother Frieda keeps telling the young Halina that if they survive the camps they shall have to testify until they die, but The Testimony is also a record of what comes next for the young Halina: love, a career in pathology, and 'her life's work' in human rights - pouring her energy into everything from bursaries for Aboriginal education and books for the victims of the Black Saturday bushfires to bioethics and gay marriage. Described by the author as 'her last testimony before she drops off the twig', this carefully crafted work is no straightforward autobiography, but one in which the people and places Halina has known take centre stage. The thematic pieces provide jewels of wisdom from a woman who has lived a truly full -- richly rewarding but also horrifically harrowing - life. A message of hope, about choosing not to be a victim, and having faith in the goodness of humanity.
Eighty-one-year-old human rights activist Halina Wagowska survived Auschwitz and Stutthof concentration camps in her early teens before immigrating to Australia. Over the years she has frequently testified to the consequences of prejudice she witnessed: she has provided material for Thomas Keneally's book on Schindler; and for Spielberg's Shoah institute, via the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne; as well as presented at international psychology conferences as a child survivor. Read an article about Hallina: http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/learning-lights-the-path-out-of-darkness-20110610- 1fwpw.html