THE END OF DAYS by Helen Sendyk


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 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 19th, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-06962-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992