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"The little children had little parents in the [twins'] block [in Auschwitz]. For example, I was a little mama for twins, two girls named Evichka and Hanka...My sister was the mother for Hanka and I was the mother for Evichka...Evichka told me that she got a mother and a father, but that they had gone away on transport. The twins were four years old. I said to her, 'I will be your mother.' She said, 'But you are only sixteen years old; it doesn't matter?' I said, 'No, it doesn't matter because it is more important that we are together and that we are not alone. You have a mother and I have a daughter.'" --Magda Magda Somogyi Many books have been written about the experiences of Jews in Nazi Europe. None, however, has focused on the persecution of the most vulnerable members of the Jewish community--its children. This powerful and moving book by Deborah Dwork relates the history of these children for the first time. The book is based on hundreds of oral histories conducted with survivors who were children in the Holocaust, in Europe and North America, an extraordinary range of primary documentation uncovered by the author (including diaries, letters, photographs and family albums), and archival records. Drawing on these sources, Dwork reveals the feelings, daily activities, and perceptions of Jewish children who lived and died in the shadow of the Holocaust. She reconstructs and analyzes the many different experiences the children faced. In the early years of Nazi domination they lived at home, increasingly opposed by rising anti-Semitism. Later some went into hiding while others attempted to live openly on gentile papers. As time passed, increasing numbers were forced into transit camps, ghettos, and death and slave labor camps. Although nearly ninety percent of the Jewish children in Nazi Europe were murdered, we learn in this history not of their deaths but of the circumstances of their lives. Children with a Star is a major new contribution to the history of Europe during the Nazi era. It explains from a different perspective how European society functioned during the wary years, how the German noose tightened, and how the Jewish victims and their gentile neighbors responded. It expands the definition of resistance by examining the history of the people--primarily women--who helped Jewish children during the war. By focusing on children, it strips away rationalizations that the victims of Nazism somehow "allowed or "deserved" their punishment. And by examining the experience of children and thereby laying bare how society functions at its most fundamental level, it not only provides a unique understanding of the Holocaust but a new theoretical approach to the study of history.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300054477
ISBN-10: 0300054475
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 22mm)
Pages: 402
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 2-Aug-1993
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » In this thorough and well-documented account, Dwork (Religious Studies/Yale) moves away front the usual bias of Holocaust studies toward the treatment of adults and focuses instead on the harrowing experiences of Jewish children under Nazi rule. Foremost among the conditions encountered by children at that time, Dwork says, was an essential powerlessness, with most of their decisions made for them by their parents, families, or caring strangers. Under the first Nazi edicts, before the deportations, Jewish schools and youth groups sprang up in many countries, and the feeling of being a race apart was offset to a degree by the high quality of education and a strengthened sense of community. As the noose tightened, however, such small advantages were quickly lost, and children were either placed in hiding and temporarily protected (as in the famous case of Anne Frank), caught up in Nazi sweeps and deported to transit camps, or locked into urban ghettos to suffer a grim fate. For those surviving the last two situations, the final destination was nearly always either a death camp, where those too young to do adult work were immediately sent "to the right," or a labor camp, where inhumane treatment quickly ended whatever vestiges of childhood remained. Relying largely on a wide range of oral histories from those who experienced the Holocaust as children, a comprehensive view of these situations throughout Europe emerges, from France and the Netherlands to Hungary and Yugoslavia, as horrors that have been often noted are seen again, wrenchingly, through the eyes of a generation too young to comprehend them. Solidly researched and sensitively arranged - a useful addition to the Holocaust canon, and a frightening record of innocence betrayed. (Kirkus Reviews)

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