The Woman Without a Number is the testimony of Holocaust survivor Iby Knill.  She writes about her life in the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary.  In her book she talks about her capture and imprisonment under the Nazis.  She speaks about her life after the Holocaust, including settling in England after liberation.  Using a combination of storytelling, humour, gravitas and great respect, Iby has found a unique way in which to tell her story.

About the author

Iby Knill is a Holocaust survivor originally from the former Czechoslovakia.  She speaks 6 languages and today tells her story to adults and students across the UK.  Iby chairs the Education Committee of Holocaust Survivor Friendship Association

Discussion Questions

Please note that some of these questions will act as spoilers for the book.

  1. why do you think the start of the book is written in the third person?  Do you understand the author’s choice to use this style as her story goes on?
  1. the policeman to whom Iby had to report regularly in Hungary offered her two opportunities at a vital time (p79).  Did you find this surprising?  Why do you think he did this?
  1. Iby tells us that on arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau, she and her friends linked arms and sang their way past Dr Mengele.  What impression does this give you of what kind of person Iby is?
  1. Iby tells us that when she remembers her past, her memory is in a series of pictures.  Does this help us understand her story and motivation for writing this?
  1. Iby doesn’t tell her story  chronologically.  How does this help us to engage with her story?
  1. Iby now works with Holocaust Survivors Friendship Association as Chair of the Education committee.  Do you understand why she does this now that you know her story?

You can download this activity.

You can find out more about Iby by watching the HMD 2010 film or uncovering her Hidden History.

You can also find out more about the Holocaust on the HMD website.  Please also visit Holocaust Learning to find out more about the work of Iby and HSFA.

About HSFA

The HSFA is a Leeds-based charity set up in 1996.  Their aim is to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and use its lessons to work towards a more tolerant society in which difference and diversity are celebrated. 

HSFA members regularly visit schools to give living witness accounts of their personal experiences as refugees, hidden children and survivors of Nazi concentration camps.  HSFA has been involved in a number of special projects designed to find new and creative ways of spreading their message.  Their two most recent projects; Building Bridges and Holocaust Education for Educators have been generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  As part of Building Bridges HSFA interviewed members of the Association about their experiences and produced an educational DVD and portable exhibition.  The HSFA website is the result of their latest project, Holocaust Education for Educators, and for this project they also interviewed 11 members of HSFA on film.