Elsie's War: A Story of Courage in Nazi Germany

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9781845070069: Elsie's War: A Story of Courage in Nazi Germany

A follow-up to My Secret Camera, this photographic testimony for children is the inspiring story of Elsie Kuhn-Leitz, a member of the wealthy "Leica camera" family, who risked everything in order to help those who were being persecuted by the Nazis during World War II. The Gestapo found out about Elsie's activities, then she was torn from her children and imprisoned in dreadful conditions. The book tells a story of courage and self-sacrifice in a time of great adversity, illustrated with period documents and photographs from the Leica archives and from Elsie's own family collection. This remarkable photo-essay sensitively introduces the Holocaust to young readers.

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About the Author:

Frank Dabba Smith was born in California. He was ordained as a rabbi at Leo Baeck College, London, in 1994. He is Rabbi of Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue and is chairperson of the Rabbinic Conference of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Rabbis. Frank also works as a freelance photographer and The Economist has published over 150 of his images. His rabbinical thesis, Photography and the Holocaust, is a critical approach to surveying the use of photography as a communications and propaganda device by all parties involved in the Holocaust. Frank's first book for Frances Lincoln was My Secret Camera.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-6–In spare text accompanied by full-page black-and-white photos, Smith narrates this story of Elsie Kühn-Leitz, a young mother who, following the lead of her humanitarian father, helped to make life easier for hundreds of Ukrainian women who were sent by the German government to work as forced laborers in her family's business. When the Nazi government took power in 1933, Elsie's father, Dr. Ernst Leitz II, owner of the Leitz optical works in Wetzlar, Germany and developer of the Leica camera, began hiring young Jews as apprentices in his firm. Later, he arranged their passages to America. During World War II, the government forced him to supply optical equipment to the military. In 1943, Elsie was imprisoned for helping a Jewish woman attempt an escape to Switzerland. An influential family friend negotiated payment of a large ransom that secured her release. A two-page afterword mentions Elsie's support of Dr. Albert Schweitzer's activities in Africa and her efforts to help Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to promote Germany's reconciliation with other nations after the war. This brief account of a family's dedication to humanity will be best understood by children who are first given some basic information about the Nazi regime.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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