Jewish Journal

Struggle on the Steppes

World War II memoir recounts the lives of women on the Russian front

by Naomi Pfefferman

January 27, 2000 | 7:00 pm

Ruzena Berler wrote her memoir, "Cattle Car to Kazakhstan," to reveal a little-known chapter of World War II: The story of women who struggled on the freezing steppes of Asia and on the Russian front.

She first began to write about her experiences in the late 1940s, to exorcise her recurring nightmares about the war. "It was a lot of death," recalls the Polish-born physician, who will appear at a booksigning at Dutton's in Brentwood on Feb. 6.

As a medical officer in the Czech Legion, Berler worked day and night, often with only an hour's sleep, to keep alive "young, mangled flesh, throbbing with fever;" or to treat the dying throngs on the battlefields.

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