By Pure Luck

Author: Fela Igielnik

ISBN 978-1-62137-003-1 (softcover)
ISBN 978-1-60264-982-8 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-60264-983-5 (eBook)

290 pages


"By Pure Luck" tells the remarkable story of how Fela Igielnik survived life in the Warsaw ghetto and the brutality of World War II. But more than that, it reveals the possibility of transforming even the darkest of experiences, starvation, forced labor and marches, institutionalized hatred, into opportunities for furthering education and understanding. Alternating between harrowing narrative and essayistic interpretation; written in a style that is at once childlike in perspective and scathingly mature in its interrogation of the absurdities of war and the consequences of intolerance and bigotry, "By Pure Luck" represents the culminating story of a young woman who managed to survive, even at times flourish, under six years of Nazi brutality as well as many years of uncertainty and unanswered questions. Retaining her humanity, through her efforts at recording the events of the Holocaust and tackling subjects such as post-War politics and the role of education in preventing further genocides, Fela Igielnik has left behind a remarkable document that teaches us that to remember is to educate.


Fela Igielnik (née Froman) was born in 1927 to a middle class Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland. Only twelve years old at the outbreak of the Second World War, Fela saw her formal education cut short with the invasion of Poland and the imposition of Nazi rule. In the years that followed, she pursued an alternative course of education while enduring and observing wartime conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto. After escaping the Ghetto through the sewers she moved to a farmhouse in southern Poland, where she was ultimately apprehended and sent to a series of labor camps. She never saw her family again. After liberation by the Russians, Fela returned to Poland to restart her life and education, undeterred by her imprisonment by the Nazis. Eventually, she married, and moved to Berlin, where she had a child. In 1952, Fela, her husband Jacob, and her son, Simon, made their way to the United States with the help of refugee organizations. After settling in Kansas City, Missouri, Fela, who spoke 5 languages fluently, taught English to other immigrants transitioning to life in America. After working many manual-labor jobs, including becoming one of the first female members of the United Mineworker's Union, Fela restarted her formal education by returning to school, eventually graduating from college, and becoming a high school teacher. Later in her life, Fela moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she dedicated her time to speaking at schools and universities about her experiences. Fela was an avid physical fitness buff, participating in daily aerobics into her eighties. She also volunteered at the Holocaust Museum, and helped with recording oral histories of Russian immigrants.

In February, 2009, Fela Igielnik succumbed to cancer, leaving behind numerous manuscripts concerning the lessons she had learned about the Holocaust. "My Education Continues," is a more detailed account of her experiences in the Holocaust. She intended this shorter version, "By Pure Luck" for young adult readers.

Category: Biography, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Type: books

Vendor: Fela Igielnik

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