Such Good Girls: The Jour­ney of the Holo­caust’s Hid­den Child Survivors

  • Review
By – May 22, 2014

This fan­tas­tic book explores the con­se­quences, psy­cho­log­i­cal and oth­er­wise, to Holo­caust sur­vivors who sur­vived the Holo­caust by hid­ing when they were chil­dren. In the first part of the book, Rosen describes dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences of hid­ing through the sto­ries of three sur­vivors, Sophie, Flo­ra, and Car­la. Sophie’s moth­er replaced her daughter’s iden­ti­ty, con­vinc­ing the young girl that the two were Catholic and drilling into Sophie many Catholic beliefs and teach­ings so that no one would sus­pect oth­er­wise. Flora’s moth­er gave her daugh­ter to nuns, who called her by a dif­fer­ent name, and a Chris­t­ian fam­i­ly even­tu­al­ly adopt­ed her. Car­la, her moth­er, and her broth­er hid in a Chris­t­ian family’s apart­ment, and she mar­ried a fel­low sur­vivor after the war. Rosen tells the child­hood sto­ries clear­ly and com­pelling­ly, and fol­lows the girls into adult­hood as well so that read­ers know how the sto­ries turn out.

Help­ful­ly for the read­er look­ing for mean­ing – and impor­tant­ly as an addi­tion to the schol­ar­ship of the Holo­caust – these sto­ries are just the begin­ning of Rosen’s analy­sis. The sto­ries set the stage for the next two parts, which explore the con­se­quences, espe­cial­ly psy­cho­log­i­cal, to hid­den child sur­vivors, many of whom shared sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences to those expe­ri­enced by Sophie, Flo­ra, and Car­la. The sec­ond part focus­es on the First Inter­na­tion­al Gath­er­ing of Chil­dren Hid­den dur­ing World War II and espe­cial­ly how sur­vivor atten­dees grap­pled with the lin­ger­ing emo­tions – pri­mar­i­ly of aban­don­ment and iso­la­tion – result­ing from shar­ing sto­ries of los­ing fam­i­ly mem­bers, hid­ing, sur­viv­ing, and liv­ing after the Holo­caust. Rosen recounts Sophie, Flo­ra, and Carla’s expe­ri­ences at the con­fer­ence, but also adds sto­ries of hid­ing from oth­er sur­vivors attend­ing the con­fer­ence who were chil­dren dur­ing the war. The third part sum­ma­rizes the emo­tion­al impacts, espe­cial­ly the impacts to Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, of these expe­ri­ences, and also men­tions the on-going research into less-known aspects of hid­ing, for exam­ple, the sex­u­al abuse of the chil­dren by their protectors.

Such Good Girls is cap­ti­vat­ing yet edu­ca­tion­al, and all the more grat­i­fy­ing to read because Rosen com­mu­ni­cates plain­ly and in an orga­nized man­ner. The book is appro­pri­ate for any­one inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the Holo­caust, and espe­cial­ly read­ers inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the range of expe­ri­ences of child sur­vivors out­side con­cen­tra­tion camps.

Relat­ed content:

Read R. D. Rosen’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

One Obsta­cle After Another

Out of Hiding

Occu­pa­tion­al Haz­ards and Emo­tion­al Real­i­ties in Writ­ing about the Holocaust

Rachel Sara Rosen­thal is an envi­ron­men­tal attor­ney in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Orig­i­nal­ly from Greens­boro, North Car­oli­na, she grad­u­at­ed from Duke Uni­ver­si­ty in 2003 and Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law in 2006.

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