Posted on October 4, 2019 at 9:53 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

The sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, itself at the center of some controversy, has stirred up plenty of outrage as well.

In Cilka’s Journey, author Heather Morris picks up the story of Auschwitz inmate Cilka Klein, whose relationship with the camp’s leader drew harsh words from the Auschwitz Memorial.

Cilka is based on Cecilia Kovachova, a real-life woman who survived Auschwitz only to be imprisoned in a Soviet gulag — where, in the new novel, she enters a sexual relationship with another SS commander and steals drugs from the gulag hospital.

Kovachova’s stepson, George Kovach, is the latest to complain about the new release, though he's not the only one.

He told the Guardian that he spoke with Morris in April and expressed concerns about her novel then.

In response, Morris removed Kovach’s father and acknowledges in the novel’s introduction that “it does not represent the entire facts of Cilka’s life.”

Still, Kovach wants a more explicit statement about its fictionalization, an apology from Morris and her publisher, and 10% of revenue to be donated to an appropriate charity — nothing for himself.

Read more about Kovach and his stepmother’s life in the Guardian.

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Categories: Today in Books

Cilka's Journey was the first of Heather Morris' books that I read. It was very clear that it was a novel based on truth and I believe the incidents described are true. I was so moved that I went on to read the other two and declare all three of Heather's books have softened my heart and improved my understand and love.
Richard Murray | 1/28/22 at 4:45 AM
I have read both of the books. What struck me was how the central female characters, especially in Cilka's Journey, had great empathy for one another. Cilka was portrayed as kind, empathetic, hardworking, eager to learn, brave, frightened, and heroic. The book made it clear that it was a fictionalized account and having a partner who is a documentary film editor, one persons truth is often not another. Documentaries are not always what they seem either. It was very clear that the situation for the women, every woman except for those old and sick, was dire. No one escaped the hard work and the favours that might or might not helped keep them alive. I am not her family but I understand the desire to protect one's memory and reputation. But as a professor, a teacher, and an avid reader, I finished the book having the highest regard and hope for Celika Klein and only learned of this controversy after. I can honestly say that the contents of the book did not diminish my respect for that character.
Mary Steggles | 2/18/20 at 6:01 PM
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