THE HIDDEN CHILDREN by Jane Marks

THE HIDDEN CHILDREN

The Secret Survivors of the Holcaust
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Twenty-two powerful stories, recorded by Marks (a family- therapy columnist for Parents magazine), of Jewish men and women who hid from the Nazis as children--and of how this experience shaped their later lives. During the war, these Holocaust survivors tried to shed their identities by living illegally in the forbidden Christian world. In 1991, Marks, on assignment for New York magazine, attended a weekend conference in which 1600 ``hidden children'' from all over the world met for the first time. In Nazi-occupied Europe, there were about 1.6 million Jewish children, she tells us. By 1945, about 1.5 million had been killed--a death rate that runs ahead of that of Jews in general, probably because, as is generally believed, the Nazis considered the annihilation of Jewish children to be of primary importance. Some children, however, survived by disguising themselves as Christians and hiding--often without their families, and often forced to live in sewers, huts, barns, and woods. ``We had a common bond. We had grown up, but we had lost our childhood,'' remembers one survivor. ``To this day, I don't know how to ride a bike, and I'm not the only one,'' says another. Forced to be endlessly adaptable, the children found as adults that the same resources that had allowed them to survive as children had now become liabilities: ``Adaptability became alienation and a loss of identity. The ability to live with homelessness became an inability to feel safe, or close to loved ones.'' Or: ``I am never myself because I spent all those years being someone else: peroxide hair and genuflecting every time I passed a church.'' Nearly all the survivors, we learn, have been silent about the past: ``Whenever the subject of the war came up, I minimized what I'd gone through...nobody wanted to listen.'' A painstaking record of atrocities, the will to survive no matter what, and the price paid for that survival.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-449-90685-X
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993