Paper Hearts

Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things. But that is what Zlatka did, in 1944, for her best friend, Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, secretly creating an origami heart. Then she passed it to every girl at the work tables to sign with their hopes and wishes for happiness, for love, and most of all—for freedom.
Fania knew what that heart meant, for herself and all the other girls. And she kept it hidden, through the bitter days in the camp and through the death marches. She kept it always.

Dance Of The Banished

Ali and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him. When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien.

Join the discussion of Dance of the Banished as well as other books centered around relocation on our My Take/Your Take page.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 8, Issue 2

Playing For The Commandant

“Look after each other and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us.” These are Hanna’s father’s parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her father’s words–and a black C-sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress–are all that she has left to remind her of life before. Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist. She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance. And she was going to dance with a boy. But then the Nazis came. Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the commandant and his guests. Staying alive isn’t supposed to include falling in love with the commandant’s son. But Karl Jager is beautiful, and his aloofness belies a secret. And war makes you do dangerous things.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume VII, Issue 3

Branded By the Pink Triangle

Before the rise of the Nazi party, Germany, especially Berlin, was one of the most tolerant places for homosexuals in the world. But that all changed when the Nazis came to power. The pink triangle sewn onto prison uniforms became the symbol of the persecution of homosexuals, a persecution that would continue for many years after the war. A mix of historical research, first-person accounts and individual stories brings this time to life for young readers.

Fragments Of Memory

The extermination of Jews, political prisoners, homosexuals and other undesirables by the Nazis during the 1940’s is very well documented in hundreds of historical books, but without the eye witness testimony of the few who survived this period they become almost hollow.
In Fragments of Memory, Hana Greenfield relives the horrors of the European Jewish population, during what came to be known as the Holocaust, in spellbinding and horrifying detail.

She remembers family, friends and neighbors who were subjected to inhumane treatment, humiliation, hunger and brutality on a daily basis. She recalls horror, fear and sadness, but also brief and all too infrequent moments of hope and happiness, which are often followed by yet more despair.

Each story is well written in small, bite-sized chunks, and each can be read as a stand-alone piece or as part of the whole book, making it easy for the reader to dip in and out of the chapters as they please.

The sheer horror of Hana’s time in different camps, including the notorious Auschwitz, and the constant fear in which she was forced to live, is conveyed through these tales in a way that only one who had lived through it could deliver.

Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story

By the time WWII ended in Europe, the Blumenthal family–Marion, her brother Albert, and their parents–had lived in a succession of refugee, transit, and prison camps for more than six years, not only surviving but staying together. This memoir is written in spare, powerful prose that vividly depicts the endless degradation and humiliation suffered by the Holocaust’s innocent victims, as well as the unending horror of life in the camps.

The Fighter

Fighting is a way of life for Moshe Wisniak. As a boy from a very poor neighborhood in Warsaw, he can’t run away when Polish kids attack the Jews, because his legs are weak. So he learns to use his fists, his head and other weapons to defend himself and his brothers. When the family moves to Paris in 1929, everyone finds work and life improves slowly. Moshe, now Maurice, is a leather worker and a young husband. At a Jewish sports club, he takes up boxing, and becomes an amateur flyweight. But the war comes to Paris, and by 1942, the French police round up foreign Jews and the Germans deport them by the hundreds every day. They send Maurice to the death camp at Auschwitz. In the camp, SS officers sense Maurice’s strength. They command him to box against a dying prisoner. Now Maurice is faced with an impossible moral dilemma: kill the prisoner or be killed by the SS for refusing to obey them. Translated from French by award-winning author Jean-Jacques Greif, The Fighter isn’t simply another book about the Holocaust. It is a book about a hero who discovers the death-defying power of his own humanity.

Take a closer look at The Fighter as examined in WOW Review.