We Are Their Voice: Young Peo­ple Respond to the Holocaust

  • Review
By – September 16, 2013

Unlike most oth­er Holo­caust remem­brance col­lec­tions, these sto­ries, essays, pho­tographs, poems, and draw­ings have been col­lect­ed and cre­at­ed by stu­dents of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades from schools in North Amer­i­ca and Europe. This is the cul­mi­na­tion of a project sup­port­ed by many class­room teach­ers. The edi­tor, in a mov­ing intro­duc- tion, hopes that the con­trib­u­tors and read­ers will make a mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion to the Holo­caust” and will, by doing so, “…cre­ate a more peace­ful future.”

Some of the stu­dent writ­ers have been inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank. In their writ­ten pieces, they become Jew­ish teenagers who are hid­den in attics and cel­lars and they describe the depri­va­tion and the con­stant fear of dis­cov­ery. One of the most dis­turb­ing essays is addressed to Anne to tell her that the hatred and dis­crim­i­na­tion she expe­ri­enced are still present. Sev­er­al selec­tions use the first per­son voice to describe the hor­rors of being tak­en away in cat­tle cars and sep­a­rat­ed from loved ones. The young writ­ers are deeply aware of the bru­tal­i­ty of life in the work and exter­mi­na­tion camps. One writer takes on the role of a child about to be gassed and describes how she strug­gles to breathe before death over­comes her.

A chap­ter titled The Good­ness of Some” tells about peo­ple who despite per­son­al risks saved Jew­ish lives. In sharp con­trast, some writ­ers think about a Nazi who recalls his role in har­vest­ing” the Jews. There is men­tion of the role of luck in being able to sur­vive. Toward the end of the book, we read about Nurem­berg tri­als as well as Simon Wiesenthal’s life­long pur­suit of Nazis. There are deeply reflec­tive essays about what we, as a soci­ety, can learn to help insure that noth­ing like this hap­pens again.

These young writ­ers and illus­tra­tors who respond to the Holo­caust” give us hope that through edu­ca­tion the world can change. A glos­sary of terms and place names is ap- pend­ed. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 10 and up.

Marge Kaplan is a retired Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage teacher. She is a con­sul­tant for the children’s lit­er­a­ture group for the Roseville, MN school sys­tem and is a sto­ry­teller of Jew­ish tales.

Discussion Questions