A collection of short stories about Holocaust survivors from all over Europe. An excellent source for short, powerful stories relating to particular cities within Europe.
The two stories that I reviewed out of the approximately thirty in the book, were about people from Lwow, Poland, which is now Lviv, Ukraine. Both of these memories were interesting to read because they were stories of courage and hope, bravery and daring. The first story, Haunting Memories, by Julian Bussgang is a unique story in that although he was Jew, he did not experience the concentration camps or ghetto life. Julian, who at the time was fifteen years old, left Poland for Russia during the first week of the War. He witnessed the evacuation of the entire government of Poland, and on September 18, 1938 crossed the border into Russia. His family traveled to Bucharest where he attended a French school. From Bucharest his whole family was lucky enough to be able to obtain exit visas to Palestine. In 1940 they arrived and Julian soon began school again at the Polish High School in Tel Aviv. In 1943 he volunteered to become a soldier in the newly formed Polish Army and went into training. His regiment was assigned to reinforce the British 8th Army commanded by General Montgomery in Italy. Julian describes the passion that many of the Jews felt in being able to help fight the Germans. After the war, he was sent to help in a Displaced Persons camp, and tells the horror of seeing the victims of a fate that could easily have been his. He remained in Italy to study but was not allowed to stay, so in 1946 he traveled to England. Finally, in 1949 his quota emerged for emigration to the United States. Julians story is particularly interesting because he interlaces historical facts throughout, and also includes his reaction to returning to Lviv in the 1980s.
The second story about Lviv, is entitled The Most Remarkable Woman I am Lucky Enough to Know, by Ronnie Fuchs. This story is written by Zophia Schalets daughter, and is a tale of remarkable courage and determination. Zophia was a young girl when World War II began and she was placed in the Lviv ghetto with her family where she was forced to work in a factory. Zophia obtained fake papers from a Russian friend and ran away, leaving her father and brother because they would not come with her. She traveled to Trembovla on the Russian border and worked at sewing. She heard from a friend that her brother was at Janowska concentration camp, and she devised a plan for him to escape. The plan worked, and she hid him at a farmers house and worked as a potato digger to feed them both. Soon, though her brother became very ill so she was force to take him to a hospital. Luckily the Russians allowed her to enlist in the army, and later her brother as well. After the war they returned to Lviv as the only survivors out of their entire family. They then moved to Prague in Czechoslovakia were Zophia worked to put her brother and herself through medical school. Today they both live in the United States and are prominent doctors.These two stories are just examples of the many that are included in this book. The majority of the stories are about young girls and boys showing extraordinary abilities and courage. This book also lets us look closer at what it was like for Jews in particular cities in Europe and what their experiences were like. This is a book that I would recommend to high school students as readings because they are short, yet powerful, and are regionally descriptive.
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