Sur­vivors of the Holo­caust: True Sto­ries of Six Extra­or­di­nary Children

Kath Shack­le­ton (ed.), Zane Whit­ting­ham (illus.)

  • Review
By – November 5, 2019

In this graph­ic nov­el, six Holo­caust sur­vivors liv­ing in Leeds, UK tell their per­son­al sto­ries of upheaval, suf­fer­ing, and sur­vival. Ger­man teenag­er, Heinz, joins his broth­er in Eng­land after Kristall­nacht and the two of them and their father are arrest­ed as ene­my aliens. Nine-year-old Trude escapes to Eng­land from Czecho­slo­va­kia and nev­er sees her par­ents again. In East­ern Ger­many, Ruth’s moth­er seeks help from for­eign embassies until the British con­sulate arranges for their escape to Eng­land. Eight-year-old Mar­tin and his fam­i­ly were part of the Pole­nak­tion,” the move to deport Pol­ish-born Jews back to Poland. He and his sis­ter trav­el on the Kinder­trans­port to safe­ty in Eng­land. Suzanne, a Parisian native, lives as a hid­den child in the French coun­try­side. Arek from Poland becomes a pris­on­er at Auschwitz.

These accounts rep­re­sent a good cross-sec­tion of expe­ri­ence, since plu­ral­i­ty of expe­ri­ence is vital in pre­sent­ing the Holo­caust to young read­ers. The illus­tra­tions make the iden­ti­ties of the vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors clear and the maps used as back­grounds pro­vide geo­graph­ic ground­ing for bor­der cross­ings. Ren­der­ings of pho­tographs and pri­ma­ry doc­u­ments add anoth­er lay­er of under­stand­ing. Par­tic­u­lar­ly poignant is the ghost­ing of Trude’s par­ents. How­ev­er, expert vet­ting of sub­ject mat­ter could have caught illus­tra­tion errors such as Heinz wear­ing a Jew­ish star badge before it was man­dat­ed and an inac­cu­rate intro­duc­to­ry state­ment that Nazi Ger­many took over the rest of Europe. The accounts are some­what incon­sis­tent in details. For instance, Trude’s nar­ra­tive does not make the con­nec­tion to the Kinder­trans­port while Martin’s does, and some, but not all, include the ages of the chil­dren and the fate of their parents.

The back mat­ter includes pho­tos and an after­word which updates the read­er on the fates of these six sur­vivors. It also includes a glos­sary, a time­line, and a page of sug­gest­ed web­sites which help to fur­ther edu­cate young read­ers about chil­dren who sur­vived the Holocaust.

Bar­bara Kras­ner is the pub­lish­er of Holo​caustkidlit​.com, a web­site and search­able online data­base of Holo­caust chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. She holds an MA in His­to­ry from New Jer­sey’s William Pater­son Uni­ver­si­ty, where she teach­es the Holo­caust and cre­ative writ­ing. She also holds an MFA in Writ­ing for Chil­dren & Young Adults from the Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts.

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