THE LEAD SOLDIERS by Uri Orlev

THE LEAD SOLDIERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An autobiographical, obliquely effective addition to the Holocaust-fiction shelf--about two young brothers, Yurik and Kazik, who think of themselves as Poles rather than Jews in the early days of the War, with their doctor father off fighting in the Polish Army. But then Warsaw is invaded--Yurik is eight, Kazik six--and, while the boys quarrel, play games, daydream, and make nuisances of themselves, their mother and assorted relatives desperately try to keep them alive in the darkening, ever-more-isolated Warsaw Ghetto. The children's mother is killed, their Aunt Stella slaves away in a ghetto factory, there are interludes of hiding outside the ghetto walls--and eventually, inevitably, the family remnants are transported to Bergen-Belsen, where the boys manage to survive until liberation arrives. . . and then migration to Palestine. Wisely, Orlev melddramatizes none of this: the children are allowed to be ordinary rather than heroic; the disjointed and confused happenings aren't straightened out or patterned; and it's all delivered in a level, laconic prose that lets the story do its own emphasizing. A jagged but arrestingly convincing memory-book, then, quietly digging up the bloody, dirty toy soldiers of Holocaust childhood.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1980
Publisher: Taplinger