Hiding to Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Rescued from the Holocaust

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9780395900208: Hiding to Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Rescued from the Holocaust

First-person accounts of fourteen Holocaust survivors who as children were hidden from the Nazis by non-Jews.

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Gr. 5-10. The telling is restrained; there are no histrionics in these 14 first-person accounts by Jewish Holocaust survivors who were hidden from the Nazis as children. In fact, some of the narratives are almost flat; it's as if the speakers don't want to make a fuss, as if the suffering is too unbearable to talk about. The survivors are Americans now, most of them in their fifties and sixties, remembering. Each oral history includes a heartbreaking photo of the child and family in wartime and then a photo of the survivor today. A brief postscript summarizes what the child didn't know at the time and what has happened since to the survivors and those who hid them. Perhaps because the speakers are adults looking back, their accounts don't have the immediacy of the child's viewpoint that makes Ida Vos' Hide and Seek (1991) so compelling. Nor do these stories have the candor and the graphic intensity of Greenfeld's Hidden Children.

The drama here is in the children's relationships with the righteous Gentiles who saved them. It's an inspiring story of ordinary people who risked death to rescue strangers. They hid children for all kinds of reasons, some of which they didn't know themselves. They created secret hideouts in convents, in homes, in chicken coops. These quiet accounts also make you imagine what it must have been like for the child who spent months crouching in a hayloft, who had to hide that he was circumcised, who was suddenly wrenched from his parents. One survivor does remember how he felt as a teenager ("I wanted to be with girls. I was furious that I wasn't able to. I hated being locked up"). Or there's the woman who remembers her reunion with her father in the U.S.: when he finally recognizes her, "he hugged me so tightly, I was nearly black and blue." Remembering is hard. Hazel Rochman

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