THE LOST CHILDHOOD: A Memoir by Yehuda Nir


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An engaging, fast-paced Holocaust memoir told by a young survivor who, along with his mother and sister, posed as a Pole and worked for German employers in occupied Warsaw. Psychiatrist Nir's account compares favorably with Zofia Kubar's recent memoir, Double Identity (p. 1060). Unlike Zofia, though, Yehuda does not look very Aryan and the prospect of discovery, arrest, and certain death is a more constant factor. Nir's circumcision, too, nearly costs him his young life during encounters with a physician and at a work-camp delousing. In any event, here's a book that stands out among the many wartime memoirs for its extensive character development and its humor. Aside from watching the narration turn from a withdrawn boy of nine to a tough young man of 15, we get to know his mother, who becomes the housekeeper and madam for a high-ranking German, and his attractive older sister, who is caught up in a parade of romantic entanglements. The humor--often of the gallows variety--also affords some much-needed comic relief in a world where the next meal or yard of sewer tunnel is steeped in uncertainty. We can laugh at a Nazi dentist who boasts to his employees (half of whom are Jews posing as Catholic Poles) how easily he can smell out a Jew, and at a drunken Russian ""liberator"" who falls asleep in the middle of a rape attempt. A memorable rendering of the experience of the Holocaust by one of its younger survivors.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich