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Life on a Strange, Inhospitable Planet

How a 15-Year-Old Girl Survived Auschwitz and Forced Labour

A personal account from the life of one of the last Auschwitz survivors - as important and necessary as never before.

Blanka was still a child when she was hunted down and deported by the Nazis. After seven horrifying weeks in Auschwitz, she was selected for slave labor. In the Hessisch Lichtenau Explosives Factory, she and her older sister Aranka were forced to fill bombs and grenades. When the two girls returned to Hungary after the war, they learned that they had not only lost their home, but also their parents, to the Holocaust.
Through the eyes of a child, Blanka takes in the inhumane world around her. Despite everything, though, she never gives up hope. Readers of this story will find themselves sucked into the deeply moving world of this special girl’s thoughts and experiences.


Blanka Pudler

Blanka Pudler is born 1929 in Akna Slatina (now Solotyno). She is still a child when she is persecuted by the Nazis and only fifteen when she is deported with her entire family. After seven harrowing weeks in the concentration camp Auschwitz she is selected for forced labour. She and her sister have to work in Hessisch Lichtenau, a factory for ammunition and explosives, where they are made to handle dangerous corrosive chemicals. When the two girls return home to Hungary after the war, they find out they haven’t just lost their home, but also their parents, to the Holocaust.

Blanka Pudler was honored with the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her ongoing efforts to preserve memories of the Holocaust. 

Dieter Vaupel

Dieter Vaupel, born 1950, Doctorate in Economic and Social Sciences, teacher and political scientist. Author of books and academic work on contemporary history (with a focus on forced labour and compensation) and on pedagogic and didactic issues.
Dieter Vaupel met Blanka Pudler in 1986 in Budapest. Together, they began to write down Pudlers story, and he finished the work after her death. His objective: to find a literary language for Blanka that helped children and young adults, but also adults, to be immersed in the world of the past, and in Blanka’s emotions. He interlaces the subjective eye-witness narration with numerous historical documents.