The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1994/03/08

Date: Tue, 08 Mar 1994 14:08:04 -0500 (EST)
To: Ken McVay 
From: Masha K. Rudman 
Subject: Re: Holocaust material, Info. on Facing History
      
                         HOLOCAUST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

                  Masha Kabakow Rudman and Susan P. Rosenberg

      It is no accident that a great number of children's books have been
published recently dealing with the Holocaust.  Most survivors of those tragic
times are 70 years or older and feel an urgency to make their stories known. 
They recognize that even though memories are painful, it is necessary to
convey the truth to current generations in order for them to be more able to
think critically about historical events, recognize the symptoms of despotism,
and fight against the evils of genocide.  With this knowledge, when they grow
older they will be more prepared to assume responsibility and take actions to
ensure that such a catastrophe will not again be permitted.  

      The Anti Defamation League of B'nai Brith recently reported that in 1989
anti-Semitic incidents in America rose to their highest level in the ten years
that the League has been conducting such national audits.  This alarming fact,
plus the news that outbreaks of anti-Semitism are once again on the rise in
the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, makes it all the more appropriate that
books about the Holocaust be brought to young readers' attention.  

      It is our responsibility as adults to help children learn about history,
think about its consequences, and develop a keen and equitable moral sense.  A
study of the Holocaust through literature helps adults and children experience
the events vicariously and empathize with the people who actually endured
them.  Although the literature can be depressing, it exemplifies that which is
great and noble about the human spirit through its portrayal of survivors and
of people of conscience who helped to rescue those whom Hitler and the Nazis
persecuted.

      Writers and publishers alike are aware of the importance of bringing the
Holocaust to the attention of the reading public.  Books with different
perspectives and approaches exist on every aspect of the Holocaust, and it is
important to acknowledge and encourage this diversity.  Since no one point of
view is sufficient to provide a complete picture, we have included a
representative sample of the range of current Holocaust literature.  Most of
the books are suitable for readers age ten and older because of the nature of
the subject matter and its presentation.  Because too few books exist for the
younger readers, wherever possible, we have tried to note when books can be
handled by such children.  Older readers can also benefit from the stories
geared to younger ones.

      In order to select from the enormous number of books available, we have
applied certain criteria:  literary quality is essential; a well-written piece
is far more likely to engage readers than is one that is sentimental, lacking
in context, or condescendingly written. Jewish characters should be portrayed
as functioning human beings who have decisions to make, and who, rightly or
wrongly, make them.  Protagonists should be three-dimensional, neither wholly
sweet-natured and generous nor constantly strong and heroic.  Stories work
best when the readers' respect and understanding, rather than pity, are
evoked.  Factual information must be accurate, even if the work is fiction. 
Under no circumstances should the enormity of the event be trivialized.  

     Books on the Holocaust are best when they avoid sensationalism or
dwelling on the grotesque.  For young children, especially, the details of
torture and atrocities should be muted because graphic descriptions can be
disturbing and get in the way of their comprehending the story.  The most
effective books offer sufficient stimulus for readers to draw their own
conclusions and avoid didactic sermonizing.  The most inspiring of the books
empower readers with a sense of their ability to act and offer hope for the
future.  Adults should, whenever possible, read the books alongside the young
readers so that there will be the opportunity for discussion, and, in many
cases, further research.

      We begin our book discussion with an allegorical look at individual
responsibility and move to examples of a demonstration of group responsibility
(the Danish resistance).  We then consider some non-Jewish perspectives on the
Holocaust, notably some German examples.  From there we move to Jewish
rescuers and self-helpers, looking at Jewish resistance and some of the
revealing stories of survivors, as well as the complex implications of their
survival for contemporary generations.  The next section contains self-reports
and diaries of people who experienced the Holocaust first-hand.  We then
explore a number of works of non-fiction for varying ages and close with what
is, in our judgment, an unusual and special book that takes the form of time
travel.

Individual Responsibility
      A deceptively simple book, Terrible Things by Eve Bunting (1989), tells
the story of a group of forest animals who live peacefully until the day the
"terrible things" come, demanding the surrender of all creatures with
feathers.  The birds are captured in the nets of the "terrible things,"
accompanied by the silence of all of the other creatures, who are grateful to
be spared. The faceless, formless "terrible things" return and carry off each
species, one by one, until only the white rabbits are left.  A young rabbit,
who has questioned why the "terrible things" are killing the residents of the
forest, begs his elders to relocate.  They remain complacent, secure in their
belief that the "terrible things" will not return.  Of course they do return,
and all of the white rabbits, except for the young questioner, are destroyed. 
He vows to warn the rest of the world about the "terrible things" and to urge
others to stand together to resist.  Terrible Things invites children to speak
up for justice.  An allegory for the Holocaust, Terrible Things is also an
enactment of Martin Neimoeller's often quoted statement on the Holocaust, "I
didn't speak up... Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one
left to speak for me."      

Group Responsibility
     The awarding of the 1989 Newbery medal (to the author of the most
distinguished contribution to literature for children) to Lois Lowry's Number
the Stars (1989) marked the first time in the history of the award that a book
on the subject of the Holocaust was so honored.  Every library in the country
purchases the books that receive the Newbery Award, thus ensuring that many
children will have access to the book.  Children as young as nine years of age
can read it, and older readers can certainly appreciate it.  The story of the
Danish people's steadfast and brave resistance to the Nazis' demands that
Jewish Danes be surrendered is told from the outlook of Annemarie Johansen,
the Christian Dane, who with her family, rescues Ellen Rosen and her family. 
In this book the Jewish characters are all "protected" from knowing any of the
details of their rescue.  We do get to know the Christian characters while the
Jews almost seem like pawns in a terrible game.  

      The book was well-researched, and the afterword contributes significant
and specific details to the reader's understanding of the situation.  The
author tells us that a key to this remarkable achievement was that G.F.
Duckwitz, a member of the German embassy staff released the details ahead of
time of the potential roundup of the Jews, thereby giving them a chance to
escape.  Thus we are made aware that even when despotism is life-threatening,
individuals can perform acts of heroism that make a palpable difference to
hundreds, and perhaps thousands of people.  Most of Denmark's 7,000 Jews
safely escaped capture. 

     Telling essentially the same story, Lisa's War, by Carol Matas (1989)
presents a very different picture, primarily because it is written from the
perspective of a twelve-year-old Jewish Danish girl.  The setting and events
are similar; the characters are alike in age and background.  But as this
story unfolds we come to know the Jewish characters as individuals; some of
the Jews anticipate the impending disaster while others refuse to believe that
the Nazis have evil intent.  All are three-dimensional people; some of them
are likeable, others not.  All in some measure are in control of their own
behavior.

     Similarly, we meet a wide variety of Danes.  Most are sympathetic to the
Jews, but some use the opportunity to extort money from the people they are
ferrying across to Sweden, and a few even collude with the Nazis.  This story
challenges the belief that Jewish Danes were passive, sheep-like martyrs who
relied solely on the courage and imagination of their Christian Danish
benefactors.  It also demonstrates that many of the people involved were
ordinary human beings who behaved in an extraordinary manner during those
terror-filled times.  Even though Lisa's War was not eligible to win the
Newbery award (its author is not a U.S. Citizen) it is worth making the effort
to locate this book.  A sequel, Code Name Kris, was published in 1990.

Rescuers
     Milton Meltzer's Rescue (1988) tells the stories of a number of non-
Jewish rescuers across Europe, including the Danish people.  Using eyewitness
accounts, diaries, journals, memoirs, and interviews, Meltzer recounts stories
of those who risked their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis.  The author
stresses that these "rescuers" did not feel that they had to surrender to the
Nazi plan.  Meltzer refers to the heroic acts of these people as a "witness to
the goodness in humanity" (Meltzer, 1988, p. 1) and says that their deeds must
be recorded because the world needs to see, remember, and experience such love
and hope.

      Meltzer's rescuers are characterized by their acknowledgment that Jews
"must be helped for the sake of the community's and individual's moral well
being" (p. 171).  The author provides stunning examples of group resistance: 
these include the workers' strike in Holland protesting the persecution of the
Jews, the only such event in all of occupied Europe; and the edict of the
exiled monarchs of Belgium, forbidding their subjects to profit from the Jews'
losses.

        Meltzer sums up the importance of these acts of courage:  "The
rescuers made a moral judgment about the evil deeds and events they confronted
and then they acted.  They felt compassion for the suffering of others, and
that compassion closed the distance between their own condition and that of
another.  And so they acted, bound in the oneness of humanity" (p. 157).

Non-Jewish Perspectives
      Some books help young readers understand the circumstances of people in
Germany at the time of Hitler's rise to power.  Friedrich by Hans Peter
Richter (1970, reissued 1989) contributes a credible, personal look, through
the eyes of a non-Jewish German child, at the conflicts and frailties of
people caught up in Nazi Germany's hysteria.  The narrator lives downstairs
from his close friend Friedrich Schneider, who is Jewish.  Both boys come from
warm and loving families.  In 1930 Friedrich first hears the words, "Dirty
Jew."  As the number of anti-Jewish incidents and decrees grow quickly and
insidiously, the friendship between the two families is strained and
eventually ends.  Richter provides here a piercing look at the early appeal of
Hitler's youth movement.  As the Nazis gain power and anti-Semitic acts are
encouraged and applauded, the reader is shocked when even the narrator joins
the rioting on Kristallnacht, the night when Jewish establishments and
synagogues were attacked and destroyed with the support of the government.  

      During a poignant conversation between Mr. Schneider and the narrator's
father, Mr. Schneider protests that his family are Germans; this is their
homeland and there is nowhere else to go.  Thus, dramatically, the author
articulates the belief system of some of the Jews as well as that of some
German Christians not really hostile to the Jews.  The stark listing at the
end of the book, in chronological order, of the laws enacted against the Jews
causes a chilling realization of the inexorable net of destruction cast by the
Nazis.  The narrator's predicament and his battle with decisions and moral
stances helps the reader to grapple with the issues.

      Too few books for young readers tell of the underground movement in
Hitler's Germany called "The White Rose."  Young German college students
participated in this organization, which attempted to combat Hitler's policies
and practices.  The movement failed, but the participants were convinced that
their cause was one that would inevitably serve as a shining example to the
rest of German youth.  The Short Life of Sophie Scholl by Herman Vinke (1984)
tells their story.  It is important for young readers to understand that,
while "righteous Gentiles" were significant in their rescue of Jews and other
oppressed people, the Jews themselves also were active in their own
deliverance.  Often a collaboration between the Jews and Gentiles was vital to
the success of the rescue.  Holocaust collections should contain a number of
volumes providing descriptions of self-help.

Jewish Rescuers and Resistance
      Leo Baeck was a brilliant scholar, humanitarian, and leader of his
people.  His story is well told in the biography One Man's Valor:  Leo Baeck
and the Holocaust by Anne E. Neimark (1986).  The survival of his people was
of the utmost importance in his life.  He continually wrought near-miracles in
getting Jews out of Europe.  He vowed to keep returning to Germany "until the
last Jew is saved" (Neimark, 1986, p. 61).  Hannah Senesh provides a powerful
female role model through her determination to help her people, despite the
danger to herself.  Two books detail her story: In Kindling Flame: The Story
of Hannah Senesh, by L. Atkinson, and Hannah Szenes - A song of Light by M.
Schur.  These books give the reader pause to think what might have been, had
there been more such singular individuals and righteous leaders of
governments.
      
      Children also became instruments of their own deliverance.  Gideon by
Chester Aaron (1982) is written in the first person by a man recalling his
experiences as a fourteen-year-old, first in the Warsaw Ghetto and then at
Treblinka concentration camp.  The book attacks the stereotype of meek Jews
passively walking off to their deaths by presenting a group of Jews as brave
fighters and survivors.  It describes the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the plans
and sacrifices made for that uprising, and Gideon's own survival skills and
strategies.  The book also addresses very candidly the identity crises
experienced by many Jews at the time.  Gideon admits to being tired of being a
Jew because of the persecution Jews suffer.  He and his mother discuss this
issue of Jewish identity and come to the conclusion that, no matter what, a
Jew can never decide not to be Jewish.
      Ironically, the book reveals that Gideon, the narrator, is an adult who
has lived as a non-Jew since the war.  However, he has come to grips with what
he now perceives as his mission:  Gideon wants the world, and particularly his
family, who up until this time has not known any of his past, to learn about
his history and the history of his people.

      Alex, the eleven-year-old protagonist in The Island on Bird Street by
Uri Orlev (1989), exhibits strength and ingenuity in a manner different from
Gideon.  Because his father has been taken away, Alex is left alone in the
Warsaw ghetto and forced to manage on his own.  Life in the ghetto helps Alex
put freedom in perspective and see how he once took it for granted.

      Even at his young age Alex is forced to struggle with issues such as
fate, luck, and the challenge of self-help as he fights for his life with
amazing resourcefulness.  This book examines the changes war inflicts upon a
previously orderly world and presents the issue of how a particular child
deals with the loss of the stability of family and community and grapples with
cruelty and injustice.  Orlev sends the message that a person of any age is
capable of making moral decisions that affect his or her life and that of
others. 

      Not many young readers are likely to know of the organized efforts at
self-help and survival that Jewish partisans mounted, especially in and around
the Warsaw Ghetto.  Uncle Misha's Partisans by Yuri Suhl (1973) is the story
of a 12-year-old boy whose entire family has been murdered by the Germans. 
After the death of his family, Motele joins a band of Jewish partisans.  He
longs to retaliate and seizes the opportunity in a dangerous mission at the
end of the story.  This issue of vengeance is one of the moral dilemmas that
books on the Holocaust can raise for young readers to ponder.

      Because stories about the Jewish partisans in the forests of Poland and
Russia are not often told or heard, this book is even more compelling.  The
Jews in this story are strong, capable of hard work, and emotionally able to
carry on despite their grief.  The issue of survivor guilt is portrayed here
as Motele wrestles with the question of why he is more worthy of life than his
parents or his sister.  At times he wishes he were dead, too, but he goes on,
and with the help of fellow Jewish partisans, his burden is made bearable.

Survivors
      Survivor guilt is a theme in David and Max by Gary Provost and Gail
Levine-Provost (1988).  Max, David's grandfather, is distressed when he
recognizes Bernie Bauer, a man he thought was killed in the Holocaust.  Bauer
denies knowing Max.  Although he is angry that Max has chosen not to mention
his Holocaust experiences before now, David hunts down the mystery man, and
confronts him with his grandfather's story.  It is only after Max's death that
Bernie Bauer confesses to his true identity.

      Several Holocaust issues are addressed in this book.  Max and Bernie
Bauer are both survivors of the Holocaust; both suffer from the guilt of
survival; however, each chooses to deal with that guilt in a different way. 
Bauer completely changes his identity and isolates himself from anyone
associated with that time, and Max simply does not discuss it.  Looking at
Max's behavior from David's point of view helps the reader to empathize with
David's frustration at being cut off from something that he wants very much to
understand, something that is a piece of his history as well as part of the
life of someone he loves.  The Holocaust continues to affect the subsequent
generations as grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of the Holocaust
generation grapple with the events which scarred their families so deeply. 
This book may help them.

Self Report
      First-hand narratives are dramatic and personal.  Effective stories of
the Holocaust refrain from elevating their characters to mythic proportions. 
Instead, they underscore the common humanity of all the victims as well as the
survivors and rescuers.  The existence of diaries and self-reports help us
become witnesses to their ordeal and heirs to their legacy.

Stolen Years by Sara Zyskind (1981) is an intimately detailed autobiographical
account of a young girl's experiences from 1939 to 1945.  At the end of the
book Zyskind refers to those who have survived as "Walking tombstones of the
millions who perished" (p. 276).  This compelling journey through the years of
the Holocaust is suitable only for the most mature readers because of the
graphic details of her experiences.  Zyskind has written a sequel, Struggle,
which tells her husband's story and it, too is emotionally wrenching.  

      Virtually all accounts of death-camp survival sound like miracles and
end with the liberation from the camp.  To Life by Ruth Minsky Sender (1988)
begins on May 3, 1945 at Auschwitz, the day the Germans abandon the camp
because of the advancing Allied Troops, and it looks at the lives of the
Jewish survivors immediately following the war.  It details their fears, the
desperate searches for family, and the still-present anti-Semitism in Poland. 
The reader follows Riva, the narrator, on her journey from the camp in Poland,
to Russia, through her escape back to Germany, and then witnesses her five
years in a displaced persons camps. This book is also appropriate for older
readers.

     Sender's book is a call for survivors to bear witness and endure, despite
their guilt and grief over those who were killed.  How do survivors of this
horror live normally, and raise children normally, without being
overprotective?  How will they answer their children's questions about the
rest of their family?  Some parents may wish to spare their children, but
children need to know.  Complicating the question is the fact that it is so
painful for survivors to relive their memories.  The reader cannot help but
admire Riva's strength, determination, bravery, and optimism.  The message
repeated over and over is, "As long as there is life there is hope" (p. 19).

      For younger readers, Hide and Seek, by Ida Vos, gives a personal look at
the day-to-day life of a child in occupied Holland, told from the child's
perspective.  Her description of the small, everyday happenings, and the
impact of the exquisitely oppressive restrictions laid down by the Nazis (such
as forbidding Jews to sit on public benches) impels the reader into her world. 
Part of what makes this book manageable for young children is that the child
and most of her family survive.

     The Diary of Anne Frank (Frank, 1952) was one of the first books to bring
the Holocaust and its consequences to the attention of the American public. 
Because Anne was such a vibrant, "normal" girl, the journal tracing her life
in hiding personalized the tragedy for people who had no way of identifying
with the horrors of the situation.  Recently published, Anne Frank:  Life in
Hiding by Johanna Hurwitz (1988), amplifies the information young readers
received from the Diary.  We learn more about Anne and her family, and we
learn of the way she died.  While this book does not deliver Anne's story with
the emotional impact of her own diary, it nevertheless is helpful in fleshing
out the details of the choices that Anne and her family, as well as their
Christian benefactors, made.  It is a moving story that deepens our grief over
the loss of this exuberant young girl, but it also dramatizes the power of her
words, and affirms the importance of her life.  Young readers can see that
they have the capability of making a difference in this world and of bringing
their feelings and ideas to the attention of other people.

     There are several other worthwhile diaries and journals written by young
authors very different from Anne Frank in personality and attitude.  A few of
these are listed in the additional reading list at the end of this article.  

Non-Fiction
     Factual books contribute much-needed information and, in some cases,
photographs of the people and events of the Holocaust.  Remember Not to
Forget, by Norman Finkelstein (1985) with excellent illustrations by Lois and
Lars Hokanson, is simply told and suitable for younger children (ages 7-10). 
The book tells of the major events of the Holocaust, communicates enormous
respect for the people who endured, and ends with an admonition to remember.

      Finkelstein explains that because Jews had been accustomed to living
with some anti-Semitism in Germany for a long time, they were unable to see
the real danger signs. Most thought that the threat would pass.  In describing
some of the Nazi laws, forms of persecution, and ultimately the camps, his
words are direct and unflinching.  He supplies the dramatic statistic that
when World War II ended, over two-thirds of the Jews of Europe were dead.

     Another book for children from eight to eleven years of age is not as
easy to handle emotionally.  The Children We Remember by Chana Byers Abells
(1983) is a book of arresting photos of children in Europe before, during, and
after the Holocaust  The text accompanying the pictures is brief, but
specific.  The book effectively makes its point through the faces and voices
of the subjects.   Adults need to look at this book with young readers and
help guide them through the trauma of seeing such graphic and poignant images
of the children who became victims.

     Smoke and Ashes by Barbara Rogasky (1988) contains photographs that are
similarly painful to view.  It is aimed at children eleven years old and up,
and its text is much more extensive and complex.  It offers a wealth of
information about the Nazis' organization and plans for the extermination of
the Jews. 

     We Remember The Holocaust, by David A. Adler (1989), is another factual
description of life in Germany from 1933 through the war years.  The text is
interspersed with quotes and photographs of people who lived through that
time.  Through interviews with survivors, the reader gets a realistic portrait
of pre-war Germany.  Their memories attest to how active and secure Jewish
life was in Germany up until 1929.  The individual narratives take the reader
into the minds of the people as they desperately try to explain away the
events as they occurred.  The reader is able to identify with the Jews'
attempts not to believe in the reality of the horror around them.  "Who could
imagine?", "Who could believe?"  Adler uses and translates many German phrases
which add to the authenticity of the book.  The language of the book is direct
and clear; the photos are striking and haunting.

      Miriam Chaikin's A Nightmare in History (1987) starts with the history
of the Jews from the time of Noah, while at the same time tracing the history
of anti-Semitism.  When the author reaches the time of the Holocaust, she
underlines the uniqueness of this historical event by explaining that while
the Jews were not the only victims, they were the only ones singled out for
extinction.

      In his introduction to The Holocaust, Seymour Rossel (1981) echoes
Chaikin's explanation of the uniqueness of the genocide of the Jews by stating
that the 6 million who died were not just victims of war, neglect, disease,
starvation, exposure, politics, or senseless mobs.  They were the victims of a
well-organized, carefully devised plan to destroy them under the guise of
lawfulness.  No policy on such a scale had ever before been carried out.  The
author emphasizes the need to understand the past and to be on guard for
warning signs that no one then was able to see.  He also addresses the issue
of accountability within a government-sponsored program of persecution and
evil.  "No matter what a group, an army, or a government may do, decisions are
made and actions are taken by individuals who then bear responsibility for
them.  After World War II, this, above all, was recognized as the message of
the Holocaust"  (p. 6).

     This comprehensive book chronicles Hitler's rise to power and his use of
anti-Semitism and racism as effective tools.  The author makes special note of
the spiritual resilience of the prisoners in the labor and death camps. 
Rossel believes that the only way to ensure prevention is through education
and communication:  "Perhaps no time in history has taught us so much about
the power of words to conceal facts.  For a long time the Jews themselves
believed what the Nazis said" (p.134).  The author concludes, "Today we see no
immediate threat of another Holocaust.  But familiar warning signs, the
selection of a scapegoat, telling the Big Lie about that scapegoat, and
directing the people's anger toward that scapegoat still crop up in today's
world.  Only the vigilance of an informed public and the willingness of people
to demand justice from their governments can guarantee that these symptoms
will not come together once more to produce another tragedy for mankind" (p.
135-136).

Special Categories
     It makes sense that most of the books on the Holocaust are either non-
fiction, or fictionalized first-hand reports.  Some books of poetry exist,
such as I Never Saw Another Butterfly (Volavkova, 1962), and a book of
Holocaust songs, We Are Here (Mlotek and Gottleib, 1983).  The subject
certainly does not lend itself to humor.  It is difficult to imagine that any
fantasy or strategy such as time travel could be applied to a book on such a
tragic theme.  Nevertheless, one book that merits inclusion in every library
of Holocaust literature is The Devil's Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen (1988).  It
stands out as a unique rendering of the Holocaust experience because its use
of time travel works so well, and demands experiential involvement from the
reader.

     Hannah, the young protagonist in the story, is emotionally removed from
what she knows to be her paternal grandfather's experiences with concentration
camps and the Nazi reign of terror.  She experiences no sympathy for his
erratic outbursts whenever the war or the Holocaust are mentioned; as a matter
of fact, she is embarrassed by them.  She loves her great-aunt, Eva, but is
growing away from her, too.  She is much more comfortable with her maternal
grandfather, who has his roots in America, and who does not badger her to
"remember."

     The story begins in modern times, with Hannah and her family traveling to
her grandparents' house for a traditional Passover seder.  This annual
commemoration of the Jews' deliverance from bondage in ancient Egypt consists
of a retelling of the story for the benefit of the children and of a
reflection on bondage and suffering, as well as the value of freedom. 
     In every Passover seder Haggadah (guide to the proceedings) there is a
point where parents are instructed to tell the child who does not know enough
to ask about the meaning of the ceremony, "This is what happened to me when I
was a slave in Egypt."  The Devil's Arithmetic  carries out the metaphor by
transporting the child to the time and place of the enslavement, the
Holocaust.  The experience is more than vicarious for Hannah:  it is real.

     Hannah, who is named for a friend of Aunt Eva's who died in a
concentration camp, is transported through time to 1942 to a shtetl in Poland. 
She retains consciousness of herself as Hannah at the same time that she
appears to everyone else to be Chaya (who we come to discover is her Aunt
Eva's dead friend.) Hannah/Chaya (and the reader with her) suffer the double
agony of knowing what will happen, and experiencing the Holocaust first hand. 
When Chaya/Hannah exchanges her place with the child who is to become her Aunt
Eva, and willingly walks into the oven, the reader grieves for both the living
Hannah, and the dying Chaya.  When Hannah reenters the modern world and
rejoins her grandparents' seder she has attained a new level of awareness and
pride in her heritage which now make her forever a part of her people.

     The book hits home with young readers who, like Hannah, have been
assimilated into the American culture.  It also affects readers who do not
know anyone who endured the Holocaust, and who, indeed, may not know anything
about the Holocaust itself.  It accomplishes through invention what many non-
fiction books cannot do:  it helps young readers to feel with the people who
suffered the tortures, precisely because Hannah is a modern child who
previously has not been able to empathize with the victims.  Some realities
are so unbelievable that it takes fantasy to help make their truths
comprehensible.

     Yolen's book is crafted with the same poetic language and clear vision
that mark her other novels.  Its fantasy is believable at every instance.  The
details support the story and the circumstances of the plot without
diminishing the impact.  Each character is whole and identifiable.  The
Devil's Arithmetic conveys the message that "To witness.  To remember.  These
were the only victories of the camps" (Yolen, 1988, p. 169).

      Each year more books are published about the Holocaust.  The sample we
have reviewed here is representative, but not all-inclusive.  A variety of
different perspectives, genres, and styles is important.  Some children may be
more affected by the nonfiction than by the fictionalized stories.  Others may
resonate to the tone and flow of the stories. 

     If we believe that people have choices, and that it is crucial to
exercise this ability to choose, then the books on the Holocaust provide us
with powerful material for today's young people.  Acting on moral choices can
make a huge difference in this world.  The books on the Holocaust help us to
demonstrate this.  It does not help to read of the horrors and say, "Oh, isn't
that awful!!!"  The point must be made that no matter how oppressive the
situation, there is something active that each person can do.  That decision-
making is the thread that runs so true through all of the Holocaust
literature, and the key to ensuring that an evil of this magnitude will never
again be permitted.



This article is an adaptation and updating of the same authors' "Confronting
History: Holocaust Books for Children" published in The New Advocate, vol. iv,
no.3, Summer, 1991.


BOOKS DISCUSSED IN THE ARTICLE

Aaron, C.  (1982).  Gideon.  New York: Lippincott.
Abells, C. B.  (1983).  The children we remember.  New York: Greenwillow
Books. 
Adler, D. A.  (1989).  We remember the Holocaust.  New York: Holt.
Atkinson, L. (1985).  In kindling flame: The story of Hannah Senesh. New York:
                  Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books.
Bunting, E.  (1989).  Terrible things.  Philadelphia: Jewish Publication
Society.
Chaikin, M.  (1987).  A nightmare in history:  The Holocaust 1933-1945.  New
York:       Clarion/Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin.
Finkelstein, N.  (1985).  Remember not to forget.  Illustrations by L. & L.
Hokanson.  New    York: Franklin Watts.
Frank, A.  (1952).  Anne Frank:  The diary of a young girl.  New York:
Doubleday and Co. 
Hurwitz, J.  (1988).  Anne Frank: Life in hiding.  Illustrated by V.
Rosenberry.  Philadelphia:    The Jewish Publication Society. 
Lowry, L.  (1989).  Number the stars.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Matas, C. (1990).  Code name, Kris. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
Matas, C.  (1989).  Lisa's war.  New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 
(Originally published in      Canada in 1987 by Lester and Orpen Denys, Ltd.)
Meltzer, M.  (1976).  Never to forget:  The Jews of the Holocaust.  New York:
Harper and Row.
Meltzer, M.  (1988).  Rescue.  New York: Harper and Row.
Mlotek, E., & Gottleib, M.  (1983).  We are here.  New York: The  Educational
Department of     the Workmen's Circle.
Neimark, A. E.  (1986).  One man's valor:  Leo Baeck and the
      Holocaust.  Lodestar.  New York: E.P. Dutton.
Orlev, U.  (1984).  The island on bird street (translated from
      the Hebrew by Hillel Halkin).  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Provost, G. and Levine-Provost, G. (1988). David and Max. New York: Jewish    
Publication       Society.
Richter, H. P.  (1970).  Friedrich.  New York: Laurel Leaf/Holt.
Rogasky, B.  (1988).  Smoke and ashes.  New York: Holiday House.
Rossel, S.  (1981).  The Holocaust.  New York: Franklin Watts. 
Sender, R. M.  (1988).  To life.  New York: Macmillan.
Suhl, Y.  (1973).  Uncle Misha's partisans.  New York: Four
      Winds Press.
Vinke, H.  (1984).  The short life of Sophie Scholl (H. Pachter,
      Trans.).  New York: Harper and Row.
Volavkova, H.  (1962).  I never saw another butterfly: Children's
      drawings and poems from Trezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944).  New
      York:  McGraw-Hill.
Vos, Ida. (1991). Hide and seek. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Yolen, J.  (1989).  The devil's arithmetic.  New York: Viking.
Zyskind, S.  (1981).  Stolen years.  Minneapolis: Lerner
      Publications.
Zyskind, S.  (1989).  Struggle.  Minneapolis: Lerner
      Publications.



SOME ADDITIONAL BOOKS TO READ 
Adler, D. A.  (1987).  The number on my grandfather's arm.  New
      York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations. 
Arnothy, C.  (1948).  I Am Fifteen--and I Don't Want to Die.  New
      York: Scholastic Books. 
Auerbacher, I.  (1986).  I am a star:  Child of the Holocaust. 
      New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Bergman, T.  (1988).  The boy from over there.  Boston: Houghton
      Mifflin.
Bernbaum, I.  (1985).  My brother's keeper.  New York: Putnam.
Bernstein, J. E., & Rudman, M. K.  (1989).  Books to help
      children cope with separation and loss:  Annotated bibliography (Vol.
      3).  New York: R. R. Bowker.
Cowan, L.  (1969).  Children of the resistance.  New York: Hawthorn. 
Flinker, M.  (1979).  Young Moshe's diary.  Jerusalem:  Yad
      Vashem. 
Forman, J.  (1969).  My enemy, my brother.  Boston: Meredith
      Press. 
Forman, J.  (1976).  The survivor.  New York: Farrar, Straus,
      Giroux.   Grimm, W.  (1988).  Dear Mili (R. Manheim, Trans.).  New York: 
      Farrar Straus and Giroux. 
Gehrts, B.  (1975).  Don't say a word.  New York: Margaret K.
      McElderry. 
Grimm, W.  (1988).  Dear Mili  (R. Manheim, Trans.).  New York: Farrar Straus
and Giroux.
Hautzig, E.  (1968).  The endless steppe.  New York: Crowell.  
Heyman, E.  (1974).  The diary of Eva Heyman.  Jerusalem: Alpha
      Press.  
Holm, A.  (1965).  North to freedom.  New York: Harcourt Brace
      Jovanovich.  
Horgan, D.  (1987).  The edge of war.  Oxford: Oxford University
      Press.
Innocenti, R.  (1985).  Rose Blanche.  Mankato, MN: Creative Education, Inc. 
Kay, M.  (1977).  In face of danger.  New York: Crown. 
Kerr, J. (1972).  When Hitler stole pink rabbit.  New York: Coward, McCann,
Geoghegan. 
Kerr, M. E.  (1978).  Gentlehands.  New York:  Harper and Row. 
Klein, G. W.  (1981).  Promise of a new spring.  Chappaqua, NY: Rossel Books. 
Kluger, R., & Mann, P.  (1978).  The secret ship.  Garden City,  NY: Doubleday
& Co. 
Kuchler-Silberman, L.  (1987).  My hundred children.  New York: Laurel-Leaf. 
Laird, C. (1989). Shadow of the wall. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Levitin, S.  (1989).  Silver days.  New York: Atheneum. 
Levitin, S.  (1970).  Journey to America.  New York: Atheneum. 
Levoy, M.  (1977).  Alan and Naomi.  New York: Harper and Row. 
Moskin, M.  (1972).  I am Rosemarie.  New York: Harper and Row. 
Murray, M.  (1973).  The crystal nights.  New York: Dell Publishing.
Nicholson, M., & Winner, D.  (1989).  Raoul Wallenberg. Milwaukee: Gareth
Stevens. 
Orgel, D.  (1978).  The devil in Vienna.  New York: Dial Press. 
Orlev, U. (1991). The man from the other side (translated from the Hebrew by
Hillel Halkin).   Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Ramati, A.  (1986).  And the violins stopped playing.  New York: Watts.
Reiss, J.  (1972).  The upstairs room.  New York: Crowell. 
*Rose, L.  (1988).  The tulips are red.  Jerusalem: Yad Vashem.
Roth-Han, R. (1988). Touch wood: A girlhood in occupied France. New York: Four
Winds Rubin, A.  (1977).  The evil that men do: The story of the Nazis. New
York: Julian Messner. 
Rudman, M. K.  (1984).  Children's literature:  An issues approach.  Second
Edition.  New     York: Longman.
Sachs, M.  (1973).  A pocket full of seeds.  New York: Doubleday. 
Samuels, G.  (1977).  Mottele.  New York: New American Library. 
Sender, R. M.  (1986).  The cage.  New York: MacMillan
Siegal, A.  (1985).  Grace in the wilderness.  New York: Farrar, Straus and
Giroux. 
Siegal, A.  (1981).  Upon the head of the goat.  New York: The New American
Library. 
Singer, I. B.  (1980).  The power of light.  New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Slepian, J.  (1985).  Getting on with it.  New York: Four Winds.
Stein, C. R.  (1987).  World at war: Prisoners of war.  Chicago: Children's
Books. 
Steiner, C. C.  (1988).  On eagles' wings and other things.  New York: Jewish
Publication       Society. 
Steiner-Aviezer, M.  (1987).  The soldier with the golden buttons.  Jerusalem:
Yad Vashem.
Strom, M. S., & Parsons, W. S.  (1982).  Facing history and ourselves: 
Holocaust and     human behavior.  Watertown: Intentional Education. 
Suhl, Y.  (1975).  On the other side of the gate.  New York: Franklin Watts. 
Tatelbaum, I. (1985).  Through our eyes: Children witness the Holocaust.
      Chicago:  I.B.T. Publishing, Inc, (3747 West Granville, Chicago, IL
      60659).
Van Stockum, H.  (1975).  The borrowed house.  New York: Farrar, Straus,
Giroux.

-- 




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