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The Keeper of Miracles by Phillip Maisel


This extraordinary memoir publishes as the author turns 99. Born in Vilna, Lithuania, he was a young man when his life changed forever when the Germans took over the city in 1941. He spent two years in an overcrowded Jewish ghetto with the most appalling conditions before enduring several Nazi labour and concentration camps. He was liberated in 1945 while on a Death March, and he moved to Australia in 1949, where he married and had a family.


For the past thirty years, Phillip has volunteered at Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre, preserving the many stories of other Holocaust survivors. Each story of survival is a miracle in itself, and Phillip taking on the nickname, ‘The Keeper of Miracles.’


Phillip says in the book, ‘This is my greatest wish: to educate, to give people the tools they need to walk away from hatred. This is what my story is for; what all our stories are for. To record – for history and for all that we lost – our humanity.’


The Keeper of Miracles is a moving memoir that details almost unbelievable cruelty and tragedy, but also moments of kindness and love, and ultimately triumph and new beginnings. Surviving the Holocaust was not just luck but also due to Phillip’s strength of character and many instances that can only be described as miracles. Through his long ordeal, Phillip resolved never to lose his humanity, and it is his inherent goodness that helped him start over and live a new life in Australia.


The Keeper of Miracles is a powerful book that reminds everyone never to underestimate the impact of human kindness, even in the darkest of times.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan, RRP $37.99