The official website of Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love & Partisan Resistance published by St. Martin's Press and maintained by author Michael Bart.
A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance

Trade & Scholarly Reviews

Nominated by the American Library Association for a Sophie Brody Medal
a national award for the most distinguished contribution to Jewish literature published in the United States

Winner of the 60th Annual Christopher Award!

Leizer & Zenia Bart
"A chance remark at his father's funeral led Michael Bart, the son of two partisan fighters from the famed Nekamah Group [The Avengers] to piece together his parents' story before it was too late. The result is a narrative of great but controlled power that tells the story of his parents, of the struggles within the Vilna Ghetto and of life in the ghetto's underground resistance and of life in the woods. The meticulously researched account is vivid and gives one a sense of that extraordinary time and the most difficult of circumstances in which a few brave Jews understood their plight and decided that while they could not determine whether they lived or died; they would live with dignity and fight the Germans Until Their Last Breath. It is a son's homage to his mother and father, to the cause for which they offered their life, to their enormous courage and their singular love. Very well done indeed."

Michael Berenbaum
Professor of Jewish Studies
American Jewish University
Director, Sigi Ziering Institute
Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust
Former President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation
Former Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Director of its Research Institute

"Michael Bart's portrayal of his parents' marriage and survival in the Vilna ghetto and of their lives as partisan fighters is a meaningful memorial to a great Jewish community as well as a tribute to the power of human endurance."

Harry I. Freund
Board member of the Jewish Book Council and the National Jewish Outreach Program

"In this carefully nuanced and beautifully written biography of Leizer Bart and his wife Zenia Lewinson Bart, the author provides us with keen new insights into the moral dilemmas faced by Jewish resistance members both within the Vilna ghetto (1941-1943) and later in the Rudnicki forest (1943-1944). One important theme that runs throughout this work is the role that membership in a prewar Zionist Youth movement such as the Hashomer Hatzair played in shaping the moral and political values of the 120 men and women who eventually fought as Jewish partisans under the command of Abba Kovner."

Carl J. Rheins, Ph.D.
Executive Director
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
New York City

Until Our Last Breath

"Bart sets the personal story of his parents' involvement in the Lithuanian anti-Nazi resistance against a broad historical backdrop. Leizer and Zenia Bart rarely discussed their years in the Vilna ghetto or in the Rudnicki forest with a group of Jewish partisans; it was only after Leizer died in 1996 that their son began serious research into their story. (Zenia's memory was failing, an early sign of Alzheimer's disease, which lead to her death in 2003.) With coauthor Corona (English and Humanities/San Diego City Coll.), Bart has crafted a text that is evocative but never mawkish. Much of the book has an intimate tone, yet the authors also provide scholarly material on key players in the Lithuanian and Nazi regimes that enables readers to place the couple's experiences in context. Close relatives of both Barts had been injured and/or killed by the Nazis, and they themselves were beaten. The descriptions of those incidents and the conditions that Jews faced in the early '40s make up the bulk of the narrative. It takes some time to get to the book's high point--the resistance--but it's there that it becomes much more exciting. Leizer and Zenia felt a moral obligation to join the partisans, though they knew they risked their lives. Even the path that led them to the Freedom Fighters of Nekamah was fraught with peril. The Barts and their comrades were involved in an array of violent activities, including teaming with Soviet troops to destroy a village whose residents had collaborated with Nazis. Appeals equally to the head and the heart--should be of interest to both academic and general readers."

Kirkus Book Review
New York City

"...Leizer and Zenia, Lithuanian Holocaust survivors, had fought in the Resistance. With his mother suffering from Alzheimer's, Bart cobbles together their story, which he and coauthor Corona, a professor of English and humanities at San Diego City College, relate along with the larger story of the Vilna ghetto. Leizer and Zenia's romance is unusually poignant against the background of the privations of the ghetto; the old social distinctions between Zenia's upper-class Lithuanian family and Leizer's poor Polish origins were brushed aside within the ghetto's confines. The young couple fled the ghetto in its waning days to fight in a part of the resistance known as the Avengers. This is a powerful tale of the triumph of love under extremely difficult conditions."

Publishers Weekly
Reviewed 03-10-2008
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Until Our Last Breath - published by St. Martin's Press

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