Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis is a romanticized look at how two Jewish girls lived when millions did not. Told in alternating voices, the Narrator, and “Anna” herself or, Zhanna Arshanskaya we learn how Zhanna and her sister Frina, were hiding in plain sight. They performed for the Nazi command, allies of the Nazi and eventually, for themselves. But no matter how much they feared being found out, betrayed by supposed friends, or their hatred of the Nazis, they always felt free when they played.
The odds of these two Ukrainian girls surviving not only an infamous death march that would see all but an extremely small amount executed was unheard of (it was not until 2006 when Greg Dawson and his wife Candy found his mothers’ and aunts names on a memorial did most realize people might have survived). But to also survive the duration of the war is astronomical. And this would have gone the way of so many others killed in slave camps, and gas chambers if a granddaughter had not asked her grandmother what it was like when she was the same age as she was (aged 13). As, the memorial that would be erected had Zhanna and Fria’s names etched on it as those who died.
We know the story of hiding in attics, barns, behind walls, but this shows the other side of hiding. Susan Hood and Arshanskaya’s son, Greg Dawson, paint not just a good story in prose poetry, but a story of strength, determination, and finding a way to live.
Their extras include photographs that also miraculously survived, and other information of the people and time covered. Dawson also wrote, Hiding in the Spotlight which first brought attention to his mothers’ story.