An epic journey across borders, The Vale of Tears chronicles close to two years in the life of Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung as he seeks an escape route from Nazi-occupied Europe. In this rare, near day-byday account, Rabbi Hirschprung illuminates what life was like for an Orthodox rabbi fleeing persecution, finding inspiration and hope in Jewish scripture and psalms as he navigates the darkness of wartime to a safe harbour in Kobe, Japan.
Almost forty years after the end of the end of the war, Claire Baum opens a package from a stranger in Rotterdam, unleashing a flood of repressed memories from her childhood. As Claire delves into her past, she uncovers the personal sacrifice and bravery of her parents, the Dutch resistance and the families that selflessly gave shelter to her and her sister, Ollie.
In the fall of 1941, as the situation for Jews worsens across Europe, Ibolya (Ibi) Grossman learns she is pregnant. She is scared and confused - a baby during wartime? But her husband, Zolti, assures her, "We need this baby, you will see." When András (Andy) is born, Ibi realizes her husband was right. Andy gives her a reason to go on during the worst of times in the Budapest ghetto, and to persevere in their escape from Hungary after the war. In as much as Ibi's story is a tribute to her son, Andy's memoir, written through his own and his mother's memories, as well as her words and silences, is a tribute to her legacy.
An idealist and a dreamer, young Icchok Klein writes poetry in the Lodz ghetto, a talent that leads to him to be rescued by a tight inner circle, where he comes under the protective wing of the chairman of the Council of Elders, Mordechai Rumkowski. In a flash, Icchok's life takes a decidedly different path, giving him a birds-eye view of a house of privilege and a polarizing, controversial figure. But in August 1944, Icchok's fate spirals when he is among those transported from the ghetto and he is forced to face, alone, each precarious moment.
Born two hundred kilometres away from each other and two years apart, Zsuzsanna Fischer and Eva Steinberger are both thrown into chaos when Germany occupies Hungary and destroys their peaceful childhoods. In the spring of 1944, as Zsuzsanna and Eva are sent into ghettos and then to Auschwitz, they each take refuge in the one constant in their lives - their older sisters. A glimpse into the fierceness of a sister's love, In Fragile Moments and The Last Time mirror the remarkable differences of similar paths of survival.
Under the Yellow & Red Stars is a remarkable story of survival, coming of age and homecoming after years as a stranger in a strange land. Alex Levin was only ten years old when he ran deep into the forest after the Germans invaded his hometown of Rokitno and only twelve when he emerged from hiding to find that he had neither parents nor a community to return to. A harrowing tale of escape, endurance and exceptional emotional resilience, Levin's story also draws us into his later life as an officer and eventual outcast in the USSR, and as an immigrant who successfully built a new life in Canada. This poetically written memoir is imbued with loss and pain, but also with the optimistic spirit of a boy determined to survive.
Rachel Milbauer, a vivacious and outgoing music lover, hid silently in an underground bunker in Nazi-occupied Poland for nearly two years. After the war, a recovered violin, case and photos hidden away by Rachel's beloved Uncle Velvel became cherished symbols of survival and continuity. Saved by inner fortitude, luck and the courage and caring of friends and strangers, Rachel and Adam met and fell in love, and set about building a new life together. Half a century later, a chance remark inspired Rachel to explore her memories. Always at her side, Adam chose to break his long self-imposed silence in the only way he could.
William Tannenzapf never wavered in his determination to survive and save his wife and baby girl from the evil that gripped his home town of Stanislawów. Blond, cherubic, Renate Krakauer was a "miracle baby" born as the world descended into war and soon surrounded by misery and death. Starved and enslaved, Tannenzapf entrusted his daughter to a Polish family so that little Renate could live in "childhood oblivion" - yet still under the eyes of her loving parents. Later reunited and thrown into the trials of refugee and immigrant life, Krakauer's thoughtful observations provide fascinating insight into the perceptions of a child survivor and offer a poignant counterpoint to Tannenzapf's adult reflections on the same events. This gripping volume offers the reader the rare opportunity to read survival stories from two members of the same family.
From the bustling city of Paris to the quaint, countryside village of Champlost, France, Where Courage Lives follows ten-year-old Muguette Szpajzer and her family as they sought refuge from the war. Written in vignettes with child-like charm and innocence, Muguette's memoir provides rich insight into rural life during wartime upheaval, honouring both her indomitable mother and the courage of the people of Champlost.
Hiding from the Nazis in the forests of Slovakia's Low Tatra Mountains in the fall of 1944, in constant danger from the Germans occupying nearby villages, fourteen-year-old Agnes Grossmann and her family made the daring decision to escape high into the mountains and hike along treacherous ice-covered peaks to safety. Twenty-four years later, Agnes Tomasov - then married with two children - found herself on the run from post-war Czechoslovakia's Communist regime and defected to Canada with her family, carrying only what they could fit in two suitcases.
With these last words from their mother, two little girls, Marguerite and her older sister, Henriette, started a long and wandering journey that lasted three years. Given new identities, they had to forget everything about their former, familiar lives. Taken from farms to convents, they learned how to remain silent, to pretend, to lie in order to survive. This story is beautifully illustrated by the author.
In June 1942, when twelve-year-old Gerta is deported with her parents to the Theresienstadt ghetto - the Nazis' deceptive "model Jewish settlement" - her family helps her cope with the surrounding devastation. Later, alone in Auschwitz, Gerta is determined to survive the unbearable. Her intrepid spirit and keen observation guides her anew through post-war communism to freedom in Canada.
When the Nazis invaded Hungary on March 19, 1944, elementary school teacher Helena Jockel thought only about how to save "her" children as she accompanied them all the way to Auschwitz. Her account of living and surviving in the camp is clear-eyed and poignant, sometimes recording the too-brief moments of beauty and kindness that accompany the unremitting cruelty.
A young boy who loved soccer as much as he loved to write, John Freund found his joyful childhood shattered by the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. John's family suffered through the systematic erosion of their rights only to be deported to Theresienstadt - en route to the Auschwitz death camp.
Kati and her younger sister, Ilonka, arrived in Canada with painful memories from the Holocaust, which took both of their parents. Their harrowing time alone in the Budapest ghetto was fresh in their minds, as were their fragile hopes to be adopted. But their lives in Toronto were far from what they expected, and full of broken promises. As the sisters navigated their new surroundings, they each grew fiercely strong and independent, while holding onto the comfort that they would be Never Far Apart.
On the run in Nazi-occupied Poland, thirteen-year-old orphan Marian Finkelman - later Domanski - was forced to grow up much too early. When he finally escaped the ghetto in his hometown, Marian's perfect Polish and fair complexion helped him narrowly escape death as he travelled through the Polish countryside.
A month before George Stern's thirteenth birthday, Germany invaded his native Hungary, anti-Jewish edicts were passed and a ghetto was established. A rebel even then, George refused to wear the Jewish star. "Passing" as a Christian boy, he survived the siege of Budapest as the Soviet Red Army pressed closer, strafing the city while the fascist Arrow Cross continued to hunt for Jews.
Ten-year-old Steve Rotschild learns to hide, to be silent, to be still - and to wait. He knows the sound of the Nazis' army boots and knows to hold his breath until their footsteps recede. Rotschild takes us on a captivating journey through his wartime childhood in Vilna, eloquently juxtaposing his past, furtive walks outside the ghetto with his long, liberating walks through Toronto fifty years after the war. Vividly evoking his experiences, this story of survival and a mother's tenacious love leaves the reader indelibly marked by Traces of What Was.
When Germany occupied Hungary in 1944, fifteen-year-old Miklos Friedman drew on his wits to survive. Recruited into forced labour, sent to a ghetto and, ultimately, to the Nazi camps of Auschwitz and Mühldorf, Miklos never stopped fighting to change his fate. After the war, he risked everything in order to leave his past behind. Decades later, a chance meeting in Toronto led Miklos, now Michael Mason, to discover the power of his new name.
Nineteen-year-old Tommy Dick was killed, only to resurface. Born into a Hungarian family who had converted from Judaism, Tommy soon found out that in the eyes of the Nazis, he was still a Jew, still a target for murder. On the run and in disguise, Tommy was chased by death as much as he was by luck. Getting Out Alive is a vivid and gripping account of how the courageous acts of others, unshakeable friendships and Tommy's own extraordinary quick wit conspired to save the life of this adventurous and determined young man in the cruellest of times.
Elsa Thon was a sixteen-year-old photographer's apprentice when the Nazis occupied her town of Pruszków, Poland. When her family was sent to the Warsaw ghetto, Elsa joined a community farm and was recruited by the Underground. Despite her deep belief in destiny, Elsa refused to bow to her fate as a Jew in war-torn Poland.
An only child, fifteen-year-old Zuzana Sermer did what she could to protect her father and ailing mother when the Nazis set up a fascist regime in her native Slovakia in 1939. Four years later, after fleeing to the supposed safety of Budapest, Zuzana and her fiancé, Arthur, instead navigated one treacherous situation after another. Survival Kit is both Sermer's thoughtful reflections on the miracles of her survival and a testament to the power of courage, love and determination.
The son of an Antwerp diamond merchant, Paul-Henri Rips was ten when the Nazis invaded Belgium and ended his "golden childhood" forever. Guided by his father's admonition to "Sei a mensch" (Be a decent person), Rips managed to hold onto his humanity in the face of unfathomable inhumanity.