This is a photograph of Tutti's first-grade class. Tutti is standing in the second row from the top, two places away from her teacher on the right. Tutti's friend Ursula Heilbut is in the same row, second from the left.
REVIEWS: TUTTI'S PROMISE
TOM WHITE Coordinator of Educational Outreach, Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene, New Hampshire
“Based on a true story, Tutti’s Promise invites readers to experience one family’s desperate struggle to stay together and retain their humanity during the Holocaust. Fishman’s loving account is a remarkable story of luck, generosity, hope, and courage in the face of atrocity. Suitable for readers ages 10 to adult, this sensitively written and gently told novel illustrates how much the world lost and continues to lose when targeted groups are marginalized as ‘other.’”
RHONDA FINK-WHITMAN Author of 94 Maidens, creator of The Mandate Video, and national Holocaust education advocate
“Relevant and important . . . Heidi Fishman tells the true story of her family’s struggle to stay together and stay alive during man’s darkest period in history. Every Holocaust story should be told, and this one is done well, with heart, and through the sweet innocence of a child’s eyes. Tutti’s Promise will linger long after you’ve put down the book.”
AVINOAM PATT, PhD Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford and Director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization
“Tutti’s Promise is a compelling story for all readers about one family’s remarkable tale of survival during the Holocaust. K. Heidi Fishman does a masterful job of weaving together Holocaust history with the account of Tutti and her family, while writing the manuscript in a style that is completely accessible for a middle-school audience. The book fills an important gap in the available literature on the subject and should reach a wide readership. Highly recommended.”
GEREE McDERMOTT, READERS' FAVORITE
“Tutti’s daughter, K. Heidi Fishman, does a magnificent job telling the heartbreaking story of Tutti’s Promise. It is flawlessly written and heartrendingly real, complete with authentic historic documentation and photographs, translations, and an informative glossary. As distressing as it was to read about Tutti and her family’s fear, pain, anxiety, and suffering, I was completely engrossed and could not put it down. I have read other true stories about the Holocaust, but none touched my soul as Tutti’s Promise has.”
"This artfully cast, two-hundred-page novel is a superb portrayal of one family’s courage, resilience, and fortitude during the Holocaust. It is the true story of the Lichtensterns, a close-knit German-Jewish family, who settle in Amsterdam in the thirties, hoping to avoid Nazi persecution. But when the Netherlands falls to the Third Reich too, their hopes are dashed. Little Tutti, five years old at the time of the German invasion, is nine years old by the war’s end. The family initially endures tightened restrictions on their lives in Amsterdam, but is eventually deported to Westerbork and finally to Theresienstadt before they are liberated. Written simply but beautifully, the novel alternates from Tutti’s point of view (Why can’t I play with my friends after curfew? Why do I have to go to an all-Jewish school and wear this star? How can I help by protecting my doll?) to her parents’ (How can we get a passport to escape Europe? How do we feed our family, protect our children and parents, and survive these camps?). Tutti’s parents, Heinz and Margret, find ingenious ways to provide for their children, Tutti and Robbie, and to keep their hopes alive. Margret is a calm voice of reassurance in the most horrible of situations. (“She used her happy voice . . . the same voice she used when she wanted Tutti to eat her carrots.”) Heinz, able to leave camp on a pass, purchases a doll for Tutti, in which he hides money the family will desperately need. He asks Tutti to promise to keep the doll and their fortunes safe. She does that and much more.The Lichtensterns endure humiliation, hunger, squalor, disease, and the death of grandparents and a favorite uncle, but their hardships are counterbalanced by their own resourcefulness and acts of kindness from others who help keep them afloat: a Dutch friend who manages to get them a Paraguayan passport, a German guard who arranges for Heinz to get more food because he remembers how well Heinz tipped him when he was headwaiter at a Berlin hotel before the war. Indeed, the great virtue of Tutti’s Promise is that author K. Heidi Fishman (Tutti’s daughter) does not linger on horror, but has presented the family overcoming these grave obstacles in the context of hope. That perfectly rendered balance makes this book a fine choice for fourth to eighth graders."
MARTA TANDORI, READERS' FAVORITE
“While this story is certainly one of courage, perseverance, determination and hope, it’s also a story that illustrates how resourceful humans can be when their lives are on the line. Whether you’re young or older, Tutti’s Promise is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time.”
PARIS T., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "A truly inspiring story of a brave family during the Holocaust. I have no doubts that Tutti`s Promise will be as thought provoking as Anne Frank's diary. An essential read for all older children learning about WW 2."
JANUARY G., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "Touching, heartbreaking, remarkable. This is one of the top must reads if you are interested in this time in History."
TIA D., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "I loved that I was able to see this experience from both Tutti's and her parents' perspective. This story will inspire you and help you to remember to forgive those who have done you wrong. I would love to meet Tutti and tell her how much I loved her story."
RICHELLE F., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "Tutti's Promise is an amazing story of a young girl and her family as they fight to survive the Holocaust. It is written from the point of view of the child. This is what captured me. I have read many books on the Holocaust survival and they have all be brilliant bringing out stories of strength, endurance and survival beyond human belief. I found Tutti's Promise to be all this, and more, as a child's account of her parent's courage and strength unveiled.
"Amonst all the trials, Tutti's father is able to buy her a doll of which he places all the money they have into the head chamber. Tutti is then given the doll for her birthday. Along with the doll comes the promise and challenge of never letting the doll from her protection, no matter what the circumstance. I was touched by this. As lists are placed on walls with the names of prisoners destined for the gas chambers, the last thing one would want would be their child screaming over a doll. But, this was the family's future survival source. As a mother I thought of what I would have my children do. One then quickly realizes the hope of the father and mother, and the strength of a daughter no matter how young.
"The father amazed me in this novel. He never gave up trying every resource available to him as he endeavoured to keep his family in the right places. He managed to just scrape through many events. The family also struggled to keep extended family together, but never stopped in the effort to bring each family member back together. It was a story that showed unbelievable family strength and connection.
"For any middle grader, this book is a brilliant piece of history that will far exceed many history texts in the education of Holocaust survival. The writing from a childs perspective, gives strength to the story. The photos at the end show the family, Tutti, and her doll, all bring a sense of life to the book. I would like to see this book used as a piece of educational history by teachers presenting the topic which remains a bit of history that continues to be told and shock every generation. This is a piece of history that needs to be learnt from so it never surfaces again, to any degree, in the future."
SALLY H., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "This book details a period of history through the personal experience and memories of the authors mother, who was a Jewish child in Holland in the 1930/40s. It is moving, memorable and thought provoking and is a reminder of a period of history that should never be forgotten."
JANILYN K., REVIEWER 5 STARS:"Although this book may be targeted toward a younger reading audience, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's considered a novel, but the author used numerous family photographs and documents to tell her mother's family's story during World War II. The family was extremely lucky to survive the war with their nuclear family intact, especially considering it included two small children. The ingenuity of the family was remarkable. Holocaust survivor stories become more precious and cherished as each day passes since their numbers are so sparse."
SIGOURNEY H., REVIEWER 4/5 STARS: "‘I hope you learned something from my story. It’s a story of hope and perseverance. It’s a story of courage and compassion and luck. Most of all, it’s a story that reminds us that we must never forget what prejudice and hatred can lead to if we don’t confront them together.’ – Tutti Lichtenstern Fishman
"Tutti’s Promise is an account of Tutti (Ruth) and her family’s experience of being Jewish in the Netherlands during WWII. Having already left Germany for Amsterdam when Tutti and her younger brother, Robbie, were young, they suddenly found themselves further targeted by Hitler and the Nazis for their faith when Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. As most people know, some six million Jews (alongside many other people the Nazis deemed ‘inferior’) were murdered during the Holocaust, and this is something that can never be forgotten. Tutti’s Promise delivers a heart-breaking story of the terrible circumstances Jewish people found themselves in during the war, and feels even more important given what’s happening in the world right now.
"K. Heidi Fishman recounts her mother’s story, documenting the fear and heartbreak the family lived through, alongside the immense courage and will they had during the darkest times – the small ways in which Tutti’s father, Heinz, tried to sabotage the Nazis may not have had any effect, but it was so incredibly brave for him to try and do something, anything, whilst imprisoned at Westerbork (a detention and transit camp). I found myself moving between fear, hope, and terrible sadness as I read what happened to Tutti’s family and it will always baffle me how people could believe that there was something inherently wrong with a group of people because of their religion, race, or sexuality.
"The writing is simple and easy to read, and at first I thought it wouldn’t be as emotional a reading experience because of this, but I was wrong. Even though the prose is simple and to the point, the actual events make it an extremely harrowing and emotional story to read. Tutti and her family experience extreme hardships and a wild array of emotions, and I don’t think I will ever be able to read a memoir or story from WWII and not be moved; everything regarding the war and Holocaust is incredibly emotive in some way and this is no exception, especially as Tutti and Robbie were so young when they experienced it all. The accessibility of the writing makes this an excellent resource for younger readers who are beginning to learn about the Holocaust, as it is very informative without being overly wordy – the use of historical pictures and documents also add another dimension of realness, and I found them fascinating.
"I’ve felt this way about pretty much every book about WWII and the Holocaust that I’ve ever read: this is such an important story to tell that I can barely articulate it. These stories need to be told, need to be understood, and need to be taken seriously so that they never happen again. Most people seem to understand this and even when the world seems a terrifying place (recent events especially) I’m always reminded of something Fred Rodgers said, ‘when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”’. Even with all the hardship and hate, there will always be people helping, speaking out against wrongdoing, and telling their stories – just like Tutti – in the hopes that one day they won’t need and that the world will realise we are all human, and we all matter."
ILANA W, REVIEWER 4/5 STARS: "Based on a family story, this book offers a valuable contribution to the history of the Shoah in Europe, particularly The Netherlands. It can be used in middle schools classes for teaching about Shoah, but it is generally a recommended read to anyone that want to know more about the tragic episodes of the fate of the world Jewry. This story of the Lichtenstern family of coping with the terrible trials of fate is one of the many examples of resilience and courage, creativity and refuse to give up to hate during the WWII. It also offers information about the daily life in the Theresienstadt concentration camp through the innocent eyes of Tutti, a little girl who grew up assuming adults' responsibilities from a very early age. A must-read for anyone interested in this historical period of time."
SUSAN M., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "In the 1930's, Hitler has risen to power and the Jews are on the brink of losing the life they knew. Happy times spent with family and friends are disappearing. The Lichtensterns are leaving Germany and moving to Amsterdam. It is initially a good move for them but Hitler has invaded Amsterdam. They go into hiding but it doesn't last. Why? What will happen to them? This is a nonfiction book of the holocaust seemed throu Tutti's eyes. She doesn't always understand why things were changing. She is too smart for her parents explanations. It is an eye opening story to see how they survive daily. Fortunately they have surprises, helpful friends that help them survive. This is a tale to be read by everyone regardless of age."
Ursula R, Educator 4/5 STARS: "A moving story told from the dual perspective of a child and of genuine historical evidence.
"The first-person narrative of a child sheltered as much as possible from the barbarity of occupation and imprisonment is very poignant, paticularly as the reader understands so much more of the situation with the benefit of historical hindsight."