This compelling memoir takes readers through the eyes of a child surviving World War II in Nazi-occupied Poland. As a nine-year-old, the author witnessed his father being herded into a truck—never to be seen again. He, his mother, and sister fled to Warsaw to live in disguise as Catholics under the noses of the Nazi SS, constantly fearful of discovery and persecution. A sobering reminder of the personal toll of the Holocaust on Jews during World War II, this book is a harrowing portrait of one child's loss of innocence. This edition contains previously unpublished content from the original text.
To the burgeoning shelf of outstanding Holocaust memoirs, Nir, a New York City psychiatrist, contributes this stellar account of how he eluded capture as a Jewish boy in Poland during WWII. His story, previously told for adults in a 1989 book with the same title, recalls Louis Begley's Wartime Liesin its rapid chronicling of daring ruses, hairbreadth escapes from Germans and anti-Semitic Poles, and the everyday snares threatening the narrator's attempts to pass himself off as Catholic. At one point, he admires his older sister's ability to "continually mastermind escape strategies that would have made Houdini jealous"; Nir himself appears to have shared that talent. Readers will admire his quick thinking and bravery. The author shifts easily between the perspective of childhood and adolescence and the psychological insights of a rigorously attentive adult. For example, describing his involvement in the Polish partisan uprising that ended in the razing of Warsaw, Nir writes: "Paradoxically, I could cope with this constant onslaught of painful and dangerous experiences at age fourteen, not so much because of my strength but because of the very fact that events followed each other so rapidly. Before I could ponder one situation, I was wrestling with another." Unflinching in his depiction of brutality and suffering, Nir is also empathetic in his acceptance of the feelings of his young self. His book merits and rewards serious attention. Ages 14-up.