Books by Dorit Bader Whiteman

Released: Nov. 1, 2005

Eleven-year-old Lonek's experiences as a Jewish child in the early years of WWII are almost unbelievably horrible: Forced to flee Poland in 1939 after the German invasion, he and his family are transported to a Siberian gulag, where they remain for a year, barely surviving unspeakable conditions. Upon their release, Lonek's anguished mother brings him to an orphanage because that seems his only chance to live. What follows is the boy's harrowing, solo two-year journey that takes him to other parts of the Soviet Union, then to Iran, India, around the Middle East and, finally, to safety in Palestine in 1942. Readers will marvel at how anyone, let alone a child, could endure all this and will cheer as Lonek reaches freedom at last. However, the recounting of his tribulations and ultimate triumph deserves a much better treatment than is given here. Lonek's story should be more involving and engrossing, but Whiteman's writing is pedestrian and repetitive, especially given that she has already written this story for adults. Photos and follow-up postwar data on Lonek and his family are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 30, 1999

An incredible way out of the Holocaust leads a boy to a Siberian labor camp, abandonment in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and then being smuggled out of Teheran to Palestine. Clinical psychologist, survivor, and author of The Uprooted: A Hitler Legacy (not reviewed), Whiteman turned down several book opportunities with survivors, but was intrigued by the unreal record of boyhood flight from Jaroslav, Poland, by Elliott "Lonek" Yaron. After research confirmed his torturous tale, and his name was found among the 900 little-known children of a clandestine kindertransport from Iran, Whiteman agreed to work with Yaron. While the author adds historical background to each locale, she retains Yaron's authentic but poor English—with mixed results. An example of their collaboration: "With such harrowing experiences behind them, the children remained somber—Eliott recalled the pervasive sense of melancholy on the train: ‘We was, you know, each one sad—Then a small incident pierced the thick enveloping gloom—unfathomable delicacy, a treasure, a bonanza." Despite the painful overwriting and underwriting by author and memoirist, this book is unique for its wartime history and geography, with its myriad of encampments in the wilderness before the Promised Land and survival. By horse-driven cart, rickety cattle trains, and leaky ships over heavily mined seas, Yaron travels from Jaroslav to Lvov (after hiding on Polish farms), through the Urals to Siberia (a frozen gulag of work and death), across Kazakhstan and Uzbekiststan (where his just-widowed mother abandons him), through the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Omar (past Iran and India), past Aden, Ethiopia, the Arabian Sea, Port Said, Egypt, and a final train to Palestine. Along the way are sights like skeletal survivors lunging for garbage, many of Hitler's willing executioners, and the rescue efforts of brave, generous people. Not a literary treasure, but a valuable piece of Holocaust history. (photos, not seen) Read full book review >