Tomi: A Childhood under the Nazis

Overview

The Nazis arrived in Strasbourg, France, in 1940, when ATomi Ungerer was eight years old. What had been a protected, idyllic childhood for the boy came to a violent halt when his home was billeted by Nazi soldiers, his family consigned to a small area of the house, and Ungerer himself forced to leave home and join the Hitler youth. Even his name was erased: Tomi became Hans, and was allowed to speak only German. For five years, until the end of the war, "Hans," like the French ...

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Overview

The Nazis arrived in Strasbourg, France, in 1940, when ATomi Ungerer was eight years old. What had been a protected, idyllic childhood for the boy came to a violent halt when his home was billeted by Nazi soldiers, his family consigned to a small area of the house, and Ungerer himself forced to leave home and join the Hitler youth. Even his name was erased: Tomi became Hans, and was allowed to speak only German. For five years, until the end of the war, "Hans," like the French society around him, was remade to fit the Nazi ideal.

Unerer was lucky enough to survive this grim experience, and unlike many, was able to create a unique record of his experiences along the way. This visual memoir is a combination of paintings, drawings, and diary entries that demonstrate his keen powers of observation, his wit and resiliency, and highly developed artistic skills. Most of this material survived thanks to his conscientious mother, and it already shows much of the wit and style that owuld one day make ungerer wold famous.

Previously published to wide acclaim in France and Germany, Tomi: A childhood Under the Nazis is lavishly illustrated with documents, photos, writings, and artwork that describe the Nazi phenomenon up close, including specific characters and events, from a child's innocent, but surprisingly disconcerting, perspective.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Edward Sullivan
Alsatian artist Ungerer offers an extraordinary, personal look at life under Nazi occupation. Ungerer was eight years old in 1940 when Alsace, a border region of France at the time, was occupied and summarily annexed by Germany. While the Jewish population and other "undesirables" were deported, the remaining citizens were forced to submit to "Germanization" and join various branches of the Nazi party. Ungerer was drafted into the Hitler Youth and forbidden to speak any language other than German. The Nazis went about completely stripping Alsace of its French identity, from forbidding the wearing of berets to changing every street name. Extremely observant, Ungerer recorded his impressions in diary entries, drawings, and paintings throughout the war and uses these remembrances to bring his narrative vividly to life. Complementing these are dozens of rare artifacts and documents produced by the Nazi propaganda machine: children's books, decrees, pamphlets, photographs, postcards, posters, school textbooks, songbooks, and toys. The result is a stunning visual memoir, a kind of museum in a book. The quality of the visuals, many of them in color, is excellent. Ungerer's text, translated from the French, is honest and personal. Readers looking for insight into the cultural and political aspects of this time in history will find Tomi a treasure trove of information. The attractive, appealing layout is likely to draw casual readers as well. Its organization facilitates serious research and also invites browsing. My only quarrel is the lack of an index. Tomi stands out among the many Holocaust personal narratives now available because Ungerer was not a victim of the concentration camps, but of Nazi occupation. His perspective is seldom seen in the ever-growing canon of Holocaust literature, and it is an important, unique one that should not be overlooked. Illus. Photos. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P M J S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being better written, For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Rewritten and enlarged from a book published in 1991 in French, this episodic and reflective autobiography reveals memorable incidents in the childhood of this well-known artist and author. When Ungerer was eight, the Nazis invaded and occupied his homeland in the Alsace region of France and displaced many of the region's residents. Ungerer intersperses family photos, vivid paintings and drawings he did as a child, and excerpts from his well-kept diary with his well-written narrative. He also includes telling and graphic examples of Nazi propaganda that permeated his young years. While his memoir includes many personal incidents in his early life, the most lasting impressions from the narrative relate to the politics and popular culture of the occupation: how Vichy France (with a few exceptions) was a willing and active tool of the Nazi war machine and genocidal policies and how broadly and deeply Germany influenced the daily life of the Alsatians.-Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Kirkus Reviews
One of the éminences grises of children's literature recasts memoirs originally published in French and German for this lively, sardonic account of the multiple occupations of his native Alsace in WWII.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570981630
  • Publisher: Rinehart, Roberts Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/12/1998
  • Pages: 175
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.89 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.93 (d)

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