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Building a New World

Libi Astaire

Being a refugee means being in limbo — a situation that Esther Austern faced when her forced labor camp was liberated in April 1945. Yet Esther didn’t sit and wait for life to unfold; she utilized every opportunity to build a better, brighter future.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

“The same way the troubles came all of a sudden and we had nothing and our lives were in danger — the same thing happened with the shock of liberation. It was unbelievable. We just felt it was unbelievable that we were free, that we’d survived.” Esther Austern may have reached her ninetieth year, but she’s still a dynamo. She recently published a memoir about her postwar journey from refugee to a new life in America, Satan Unmasked: True to Color. It’s a project that was almost 70 years in the making. And as she talks about those years, it’s with remarkable vividness. Of course, she has a remarkable story to tell — a story that suggests she would have made a pretty good secret agent, if she hadn’t chosen to marry and raise a Torah family instead.

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