CHILDREN OF VIENNA by Robert Neumann


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A grim tale of children of Europe today, waifs, homeless, rootless, living by their wits, stealing, cheating, lying, hiding out against the authorities, completely amoral. These are inevitable by-products of wars, and Neumann, in almost deadened, muted tones, gives one a cumulative effect of hopelessness, with an elusive undramatized undercurrent of pathos. A group of these children are living together in a cellar of a wrecked house, with Yid, a 13-year old product of concentration camps, as the brains of the group. There's Curly, who clings to the hope that his mother escaped death and will return for him. There's Eve, child prostitute, and Ate, who is ridden by remorse and bitterness because she had betrayed her parents. And there's Tiny, who is dying of malnutrition. Other shadowy figures come and go. And then comes Mr. Smith, a Negro chaplain, who brings tracts, and stays to try to help get the children away. The veneer of civilization is ripped off. And then comes his superior officer, who charges him with desertion and worse- but who accepts Yid's remorseless shouldering of the blame. A book that seems somehow set in a vacuum- as hopeless in its outlook as the situation with which it deals. A disturbing, though sometimes difficult and confusing book.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1947
Publisher: Dutton