A debut author recounts her experiences before and during the Holocaust.
Born in the eastern Czechoslovakian town of Sekernice to a family of religious Jews, Lumer had a traditional upbringing in a time and place with few amenities. She was responsible for working at her parents’ store, caring for her younger siblings, and praying every day: “I had no idea what I was saying, but I knew it was very important, because if I didn’t say that prayer every morning, there was a very good chance I would get punished by God.” The first section of the book comprises anecdotes about growing up in Sekernice, a multilingual town in the Carpathian Mountains home to various ethnic groups and religious traditions. The second section follows Lumer’s life after her relocation in 1943 to Budapest, where her parents sent her at the age of 15 in hopes that she would be safe there with her older brothers for the duration of World War II. The following spring, Germany invaded Hungary and began deporting its Jews to concentration camps. Lumer’s wartime experiences included multiple camps and forced marches in dire conditions, though she somehow found the will—and luck—to remain alive despite all that the world threw at her. The author, as the introduction reveals, wrote this book with the editing help of Joe Lumer, her son; it is dedicated to his memory. She tells her story in simple, declarative prose, with little commentary beyond the bare facts and emotions of each experience. “The guards kept telling us it was only a little longer, only a little farther, and we would arrive,” she writes of one march. “I fell again and couldn’t get up, so I started crawling on all fours, like a dog.” She resists offering easy explanations of the conflict and the genocide, or what both might portend for the future, simply repeating her remembrances and allowing them to weigh on readers. This gives the earlier episodes, like the one involving Lumer carrying a live chicken in a sack to the shochet (slaughter), an almost folkloric quality. The later recollections vividly reveal the horrific absurdity of war.
A simple, disciplined, and affecting addition to the genre of Holocaust memoirs.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)