Sammy Silberberg, the author of this Holocaust memoir, is now 83. In this book, he tells the story of his life from the time he was eight years old, living in his Polish home town in the 1930s, to his immigration to the United States in n1952 after fighting Israel’s War of Independence.
He was always “feisty,” a born negotiator, and a believer that one should take action to fight for one’s life. As the “noose” of the Nazis tightens, his Uncle Moses plants the seeds in Sam’s mind for returning to Zion and helping to establish a homeland there for the Jews. After the Germans invade Poland and Sam and his family are transferred from ghetto to ghetto, he learns how to smuggle food. Later, he and his father are in the selection line at Auschwitz and he stands on a concrete block to make the Nazis think he is taller and older. In this way, he and his father are able to be together in the camp until the “death march” near the end of the war.
Physical and emotional survival are buttressed by his father’s philosophy that you must not look back but must make the best of the present. Learning that Sam’s mother is posing as an Aryan and working in a community near the camp gives them a psychological boost, which helps them survive.
During the death march, Sam tells his father that they must escape. His father does not respond. When Sam sees an opportunity, he takes it and never sees his father agin. He is able to find his mother, but later leaves her to fo to Palestine and be trained as a soldier and he takes part in defending the Negba kibbutz. Subsequently, he goes to the United States to join his mother who is already living there.
The drive and resiliency of the author is inspiring and a role model for teenagers everywhere. The story is accompanied by photographs of his family, of the Nazis, and of the concentration camps, as well as a glossary, a list of discussion questions, and a list of suggested projects.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.