Sendyk is the last member of a Jewish family of 12 from Chrzanow, Poland, only three of whom survived the Holocaust. This is her moving story of how each of the others died and of what happened to her and her one sister who survived a German labor camp. ``We felt that maybe the world was coming to an end. We remembered Papa's words, `It is the end of days, the kingdom of God, the time of the Messiah.' But we had not died and gone to heaven. We were alive and dangling over the pit of hell.'' Sendyk tells nothing new about German acts of genocide against Polish Jews, but hers is nonetheless a notable witness to monstrous horror. Papa ran a successful delicacies store whose fancy foods appealed to kosher and nonkosher clients alike. After the Germans invaded and closed down the store, Papa tried to continue business from his apartment while buying produce on the black market. But soon the Germans were herding the ``Jewish swine'' into the streets, marching them off to labor camps or for extermination. The family went into hiding and faced terror from every direction, including from Polish gentile neighbors who would turn them in for a reward or simply to ransack their apartments once they were gone. Complicating the family's misery was daughter Goldzia, bedridden with polio, who eventually was left in bed with no one to help her and was simply killed by the Nazis. Horror layered upon horror as family members died and the author and her sister Nachcia went off to a labor camp and years of starvation, illness, and ratlike survival. When they were at last freed by Russian troops, they faced rape and more horror, but at last returned home—as skeletons—only to face gentiles unhappy to see any Jews still alive. Vastly worthwhile and affecting.

Pub Date: June 19, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-06962-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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