Briar Rose

By: Jane Yolen

Plot summary

The story starts out with Becca's grandmother telling the story of Sleeping Beauty. It was one of Becca's favorite stories. There are time switches Present day, back then, and Present day again. Becca and her family is left a box from their grandmother. A box with a bunch of stuff in it. Among the stuff there is a picture of Gemma and a child. Who was the child? No one in the family knew who was that. That's what lead Becca into her journey to find out who was the child, what was Kulmhof, why was Gemma called Księżniczka, and why did she claim that she was Briar Rose?

Theme summary

The theme is that if you keep persisting on you can find out anything. Becca keeps on going place to place to place to understand her grandmothers claim "I am Briar Rose." As Becca comes closer and closer she is constantly have to leave one area to go to the next. But never lost sight of the promise she made to her Grandmother.


Chelmno was a killing center and the first victims where gypsies, homosexuals, and Jews. In "Briar Rose" one of the women had escaped, but no one knows if or was a women that escaped Chelmno. The killings started December 8, 1941 to March 1943 and a brief phase in June to July. There were a few survivors Mordechia Podchlebnik, Milnak Meyer, Abraham Tauber, Abram Roj, and a person called Szlamek. No one knows who he or she was, the identity is unknown. The Germans abandoned Chelmno on January 17, 1945. They killed around 150,000 people total. To learn more here is a link to the website I used.


After some research I found out that Chelmno, that there was a castle that the Nazi's used as a base and where they gassed people to. In the story they find Gemma in a stack of dead bodies ready to be buried. They tried to stay away from the camp. Gemma was married in the woods which is pretty accurate because there is a forest close to Chelmmo. The author must have done some research because the things Gemma talked about where also accurate.


"Chelmno." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 10 June 2013. Web. 5 Jan. 2014. <>.


Chelmno (Holocaust death camp) YouTube Web. January 9, 2014