STAR CHILDREN by Clara Asscher-Pinkhof


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A Dutch Holocaust classic about Jewish children facing death, first published in 1946, now translated into English for the first time by Terese Edelstein and Inez Smidt. Before reaching their teens, almost one million Jewish children were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. Asscher-Pinkhof was a Jewish widow in Amsterdam who supported her six children as a translator and writer of novels and children's stories. Once Holland fell, the Nazis murdered 105,000 Dutch Jews, while some 40,000 Jews from other countries who had fled to Holland for safety were also murdered. One morning in 1943 Asscher-Pinkhof woke ""and on my lips were the words 'Star Children'."" These were the children with the Jewish star, the dead and the living. ""I knew at that moment that I had to be their voice--that I had to speak out and say what they had felt and suffered."" She wrote the first two parts of this book while living in the Amsterdam ghetto (""Star City""), entrusted the manuscript to her publisher and promised that if she survived the war she would finish the book. She was sent to Westerbork (""Star Desert""), a camp, where she formed a tie with a child whom she subsequently accompanied to Bergen-Belsen (""Star Hell""). Later she and the child were released and in Palestine she finished her book. The book is formed of 53 brief, often very moving and poetic vignettes seen from a child's viewpoint and told in a child's words. In the beginning mothers are too distracted to keep their children indoors; they're worried ""about the father who was taken, about the other street where dear ones lived. . .[T] he children had free play."" The children are proud of their new orange stars with the word ""Jew"" on them. Soon enough they are plunged into the horrors of the camps. At book's end only a handful are left alive to tear off their stars, from among ""crowds of star children who did not live long and happily, whose stars were torn off by God himself and placed among the other stars in the heavens, as eternal evidence."" Stirring. With photographs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Wayne State Univ. Press