Wednesday 5 October 2011

The Thousand Children by Anne L. Fox and Eva Abraham-Podietz

This is a book aimed at junior school children – probably best suited for year 6 – about children’s experiences of the Holocaust. Even for someone like me, who is gradually acquiring a deep and detailed understanding of many of the issues, this book presents the main point beautifully and illustrates them well by giving anecdotal accounts. I was a little amused to both Northampton and Coventry being referred to as “towns north of London.” Well, yes, they are, but they could be much better described. But this book is written for an American audience. There is a mild rebuke that the rest of the world just watched and didn’t react after the Kristallnacht. They could have a point. The United Kingdom rescued just 10,000 out of 500,000 Jewish children. Not all that many people could find the £50.00 – probably £3000+ today – to sponsor a Jewish child. I was pleased to read of yet another adult who refused to use the Hitler salute and merely responded “Good day to you,” when anyone said “Heil Hitler” to her. One account said that the Kinder did not need visas or passports. Other accounts say otherwise. And it was the fact that my mother-in-law, Renate Edler, already had an adult passport, that helped her to get out so easily. This needs some more investigation. There was a little more information about the chaperones who came over with the children in this book. This is a fascinating topic which I want to investigate further. These good people would being the children over but then had to return to Germany – or else the Germans threatened to stop the whole of the Kindertransport. The book asserts that most of these chaperones later lost their lives in the Holocaust. One young woman worked in a munitions factory and worried that she was making bombs that might kill her mother who still lived in Hamburg. That also resonates with my novel.

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