When Tatjana was ten years old, Nazi Germany declared war on Russia. Enduring terrible conditions and near-starvation in work camps, Tatjana survived through liberation, but had more obstacles to overcome before fulfilling her dream to become a teacher.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German, Russian
Grade 7 Up. Written in the form of a diary, this memoir relates the struggle of a Russian adolescent to survive during World War II. Wassiljewa was barely 14 and living close to starvation in a small, German-occupied town 60 kilometers from Leningrad when she was sent to do forced labor in Germany. Her story is gripping and a grim reminder of the horrors war imposes on civilian populations. While frankly describing the brutality of the living and working conditions, she does not neglect to note the kindnesses of individuals, including Germans who on occasion alleviated her suffering, sometimes at great personal risk. The greatest irony of her story is the suspicion with which those young people who had struggled so valiantly to survive in the enemy's land were treated when they returned to their homeland. Too young to have a passport before the war, Wassiljewa was denied an identity certificate that would allow her to continue her schooling after her return. Serendipity resolved her situation but not of many others like her who were sent to Soviet prison camps. The book was published in the Soviet Union in 1990, but this edition was done from a German translation published in 1994. This double translation and the use of the German transliteration of Russian names may account for some awkwardness. The writing is not always as engaging as the story itself, and the historical endnote has some errors. Nonetheless, Hostage is a welcome addition to the literature about World War II because of its unique viewpoint.?Elizabeth Talbot, University of Illinois, Champaign
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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