Kinderlager: An Oral History of Young Holocaust Survivors

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As time begins to silence the first-person voices of older survivors, this account of the experiences of three young girls, one of them possibly the youngest survivor of the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, comes as a powerful witness to the Holocaust. Tova Friedman, Frieda Tenenbaum, and Rachel Hyams all came from the same small town in Poland. After a series of ghettos and forced labor camps, all three girls were transported to Auschwitz with their mothers and for a time were together in the Kinderlager ...
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Overview

As time begins to silence the first-person voices of older survivors, this account of the experiences of three young girls, one of them possibly the youngest survivor of the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, comes as a powerful witness to the Holocaust. Tova Friedman, Frieda Tenenbaum, and Rachel Hyams all came from the same small town in Poland. After a series of ghettos and forced labor camps, all three girls were transported to Auschwitz with their mothers and for a time were together in the Kinderlager barracks-the children's section. By a twist of fate, when the final Nazi cry of "Alle Juden raus!" echoed through the camp, each of the girls was hidden by her mother instead of joining what was for many a death march. On January 27, 1945, the date of their liberation and, subsequently, the date celebrated by the three women as their "birthday," Tova was six years old, Frieda was ten, and Rachel was seven. Nieuwsma, a journalist, assembles the sometimes brutal oral histories of these women from childhood through liberation and the aftermath of displaced persons camps, the often futile search for scraps of information about surviving family, and the difficult decision to emigrate. In the story of each woman's adult life, there is a resurgence of hidden memory and post-traumatic stress; Tova speaks of "existential loneliness" during every holiday, Rachel of her never-ending search for "missing pieces," and Frieda recalls that "if you cried in the war you were dead...But I can do it now, and it's a precious thing." The photographs of these women with their children and grandchildren are a testament to their strength and to the capacity of the human spirit to survive. Their intenselymoving stories are a remarkable gift of insight to the Holocaust years and its implications for all of us.

Draws on interviews with three women who recount their experiences as child survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Serena J. Leigh
This book purports neither to examine why the Holocaust happened nor to present a consequential account of how it happened. Its aim is simply to relate what happened, to three young girls from one small town in Poland. Nieuwsma recognizes that for the Holocaust to be at all comprehensible it must be approached on the small scale, through the details-family photographs are included-and in the voices of those who experienced it. The author appears only in the prologue and epilogue framing the three stories, and there is no embellishment of the oral testimony to distance the reader from the events recounted. Indeed, the lucid narrative style is that of memory itself: the three "books" seem like collections of snapshots. In uncomplicated language Tova, Frieda, and Rachel create clear and chilling images evoking childhoods marred by life under the Nazis, moves to cramped shared apartments in ghettos, deportations to labor and concentration camps, and difficult adjustments to freedom. Readers learn not only of the horrors these children witnessed and suffered, but also of the nightmares and depressions the adult survivors endure. The stories are well and simply told; however, Kinderlager is not suitable for younger readers. Glossary. Photos. Further Reading. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823413584
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 161
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.83 (w) x 10.29 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Foreword

Milton J. Nieuwsma, from the Epilogue

"We look for answers, but they are fragmentary and incomplete; they don't satisfy and probably never will. My friends Tova and Frieda and Rachel were among the handful of children who survived Hitler's most notorious death camp. They can't tell you why Auschwitz happened, either. Yet they do tell us what happened, and perhaps that is enough. Because it is the living who speak for the dead; through them we hear the silent screams of terrified mothers and hear the tears of children. To turn away is to kill them a second time. But to listen is to confront the monster that lurks deep in the human soul."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2000

    A very depressing book!

    Tova,Frieda,andRachel all survived the holocaust! Read this amazing book on how they did it! A very amazingly true story!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    Great Book

    Kinderlager is a great book!! Especially if you like books about the history of the Holocaust. It has really good details and dates, that always shows signs of a great book. Another good thing about the book is it has a lot of pictures in it. This gives a perfect idea about what the Holocaust was actually like, scary, very dramatic, and you will be able to see this from the pictures. The pictures in the book also have information about them to tell you where it was taken so you will be able to know a little bit more about the picture that was taken. This book is about young survivors of the holocaust. Also what I liked about this book is it goes into detail about each child it talks about, a little bit about where they came from, how they got there, who helps them survive, and some of there family information. That is what I thought about this book.

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