My Just War

Overview

Gabriel Temkin, an eighteen-year-old Jew, was living in Lodz, Poland, in September 1939 when the Germans invaded. Following their swift conquest of Poland, the Nazis unleashed a campaign of terror against the Polish Jews. Facing Nazi persecution, Temkin and his young fiancee Hanna fled to the Soviet-controlled eastern part of Poland. (Temkin's entire family, who could not get out of Lodz, was killed during the Holocaust.) On June 22, 1941 German panzers rolled across Soviet borders. Three weeks later Temkin was ...
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Overview

Gabriel Temkin, an eighteen-year-old Jew, was living in Lodz, Poland, in September 1939 when the Germans invaded. Following their swift conquest of Poland, the Nazis unleashed a campaign of terror against the Polish Jews. Facing Nazi persecution, Temkin and his young fiancee Hanna fled to the Soviet-controlled eastern part of Poland. (Temkin's entire family, who could not get out of Lodz, was killed during the Holocaust.) On June 22, 1941 German panzers rolled across Soviet borders. Three weeks later Temkin was drafted into the Red Army. Distrusted by the Soviets because he was a refugee, Temkin was assigned, along with other refugees, to a military labor battalion to dig antitank ditches. In July 1942, during the Wehrmacht's Stalingrad offensive, Temkin was captured by the Nazis and sent to a POW camp. The Nazis were rewarding prisoners with bread to betray the Jews among them, but Temkin was not turned in. He eventually escaped, now remembering fondly the courageous, ordinary Russian and Ukrainian villagers who risked their lives helping him - a fugitive POW - with food and shelter. When he was able to reenlist, as the result of a bureaucratic fluke Temkin signed up not as a laborer but as a soldier in the regular Red Army. In May 1943, joining the scout/reconnaissance platoon of a rifle regiment, he fought the Nazis across Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary, reaching Austria by the war's end in April 1945. Temkin is one of the only known Polish Jews to have fought as a combat soldier in the Red Army. He was awarded the Medal of Valor and distinguished himself in battle on several other occasions.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YA-Unlike many books in this genre, this one tells the story of a man who did not meekly go to the gas chambers, but who fought back. Temkin fled Poland for the Soviet Union after its partition in 1939. He was drafted into the Red Army and served initially in a labor battalion, but was soon captured by the Germans. After a harrowing escape, he was rescued by the Red Army, which he joined again. During the next two years he fought in many of the campaigns that helped liberate the Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary from the Nazis. This book is not intended as an overview of the battles, but is confined to one man's observations of the cataclysmic events that would shape the world for the next 50 years. It is not for the faint-hearted, for the author describes in great detail the horrors he witnessed and the hardships he endured. His story is easy to read and is more of an oral history than a memoir. However, Temkin tends to ramble on in places and often the chapters are more stream-of-consciousness than organized narrative. A good addition to Holocaust collections.-Robert Burnham, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Booknews
Fleeing Nazi persecution, Temkin left Poland for the Soviet Union and was drafted into the Red Army. He was one of the only Polish Jews known to have served in the Red Army as a combat soldier, and his memoir is a remarkable story of resilience, courage, and perseverance. It is also a story of adventure, a Holocaust survival story, and an odyssey-like travelogue through the Russo-German war. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780891416456
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/18/1997
  • Pages: 272
  • Lexile: 1190L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.03 (d)

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