ESCAPE OR DIE: True Stories of Young People Who Survived the Holocaust by Ina R. Friedman

ESCAPE OR DIE: True Stories of Young People Who Survived the Holocaust

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Twelve personal accounts of the holocaust as recollected for the author by survivors--all but one of them Jewish--who were children or teenagers at the time. Cast in the third person, the accounts tell of being beaten by classmates on Crystal Night or experimented-on in Auschwitz Block 10 (Friedman doesn't go into the immediate details of the worst experiences, such as this must have been), of working in the Warsaw Ghetto with Jews the Polish Resistance refused to help, of early years spent in cellars. One teenager is found at Dachau among piles of corpses: the American soldier wading through the bodies had an eerie feeling about being watched, then noticed that one of the ""corpses"" had eyes that moved and a weak pulse, Many are saved by small acts of friends or strangers: a doorman turns his back while a wanted tenant slips out; a ship's captain burns a telegram commanding him to return to Germany with a ""subversive"" Jew; a doctor switches X-rays to discourage SS interest in his ""dying"" patient. The non-Jewish Dutch resistance worker is released--an outcome no Jewish prisoner could hope for--after two high Dutch businessmen ply the vicious SS officer with silks and liquor. But inhumanity is the rule: one boy, who repeatedly escapes from soldiers and death camps, is repeatedly turned in by bounty hunters. A little Polish girl about to make her first Communion is told on liberation day that she is Jewish. Hysterical, she runs to the priest, who tells her ""You are right. Jews do not go to heaven. They burn. Leave."" Escape took the survivors to strange places--Cuba, a desert in India, Iraq, Nairobi--where some were then interned with Nazis as German-born ""enemy aliens."" Friedman divides their stories according to countries of origin--Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, etc.--and prefaces each with background notes on the ancient Jewish presence there, the ancient history of anti-Semitism in most of the countries, and the statistics of emigration and annihilation. We have seen several more involving, full-length YA accounts written by survivors themselves; but with the back-ground notes this sampling seems tailor-made for school study units.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1982
ISBN: 0938756346
Publisher: Addison-Wesley