A young girl growing up in Spanish Harlem in the 1940’s watches the secure world of her childhood years slowly erode away.
Jaap Penraat can’t understand the Germans’ hatred of his Jewish neighbors in his hometown of Amsterdam. As the restrictions multiply and the violence escalates, Jaap knows he must take action to help his friends. He begins by using his father’s printing press to forge identification cards and papers for Jewish neighbors and refugees, but as the Nazi grasp tightens, he is forced to take a more drastic path leading twenty Jews on the dangerous first leg of a journey to Paris, the start of the underground pipeline to safety.This initial group of twenty men is only the beginning; the number eventually grows to over four hundred Jews saved from certain death by Jaap Penraat’s heroic efforts, brought to life in this vivid retelling.
The year is 1942, and Norway is under Nazi occupation. Ten-year-old Merit is sent with her younger brother to Godoy Island to live with her aunt and grandfather after Germans Bomb Norway in 1940. Merit longs to join her parents in the Resistance and when her aunt, a teacher, is taken away two years later, she resents even more the Nazis’ presence and her grandfather’s refusal to oppose them.
Once Jacob Gutgeld lived with his family in a beautiful house in Warsaw, Poland. He went to school and played hide-and-seek in the woods with his friends. But everything changed the day the Nazi soldiers invaded in 1939. Suddenly it wasn’t safe to be Jewish anymore.One afternoon, eight-year-old Jacob slipped through a hole in the ghetto wall to meet Alex Roslan, a kind Christian man who agreed to be his new “uncle.” The Roslan family, at the risk of their own lives, kept Jacob’s identity as a Jew hidden.Every day of hiding meant a new danger and a threat of discovery. Jacob worried about his real family and longed to go to school and play outside like the Roslan children. Yet the fear, the hardships, and the hunger brought Jacob closer and closer to all the Roslans–until at last the time of hate and war came to an end and a new chapter began in all their lives.
During the days of Nazi terror in Europe, many Jewish children were taken from their families and hidden. Régine Miller was one such child, who left her mother, father, and brother when she was 10 years old. Utterly alone as she is shunted from place to place, told to tell no one she is Jewish, she hears that her mother and brother have been taken by the SS, the German secret police. Only her desperate hope that her father will return sustains her. At war’s end she must learn to live with the terrible truth of “the final solution,” the Nazi’s extermination camps.The people who sheltered Régine cover a wide spectrum of human types, ranging from callous to kind, fearful to defiant, exploitive to caring. This is a story of a brave girl and an equally brave woman to tell the story so many years later.
On August 4, 1940, an unassuming American journalist named Varian Fry made his way to Marseilles, France, carrying in his pockets the names of approximately two hundred artists and intellectuals – all enemies of the new Nazi regime. As a volunteer for the Emergency Rescue Committee, Fry’s mission was to help these refugees flee to safety, then return home two weeks later. As more and more people came to him for assistance, however, he realized the situation was far worse than anyone in America had suspected – and his role far greater than he had imagined. He remained in France for over a year, refusing to leave until he was forcibly evicted. At a time when most Americans ignored the atrocities in Europe, Varian Fry engaged in covert operations, putting himself in great danger, to save strangers in a foreign land. He was instrumental in the rescue of over two thousand refugees, including the novelist Heinrich Mann and the artist Marc Chagall.
In letters to her cousin, a young Jewish girl chronicles her family’s flight from Russia in 1919 and her own experiences when she must be left in Belgium for a while when the others emigrate to America.
In the spring of 1942 Hannelore received a letter from Mama at her school in Berlin, Germany–Papa had been arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Six weeks later he was sent home; ashes in an urn.Soon another letter arrived. “The Gestapo has notified your brothers and me that we are to be deported to the East–whatever that means.” Hannelore knew: labor camps, starvation, beatings. How could Mama and her two younger brothers bear that? She made a decision: She would go home and be deported with her family. Despite the horrors she faced in eight labor and concentration camps, Hannelore met and fell in love with a Polish POW named Dick Hillman.Oskar Schindler was their one hope to survive. Schindler had a plan to take eleven hundred Jews to the safety of his new factory in Czechoslovakia. Incredibly both she and Dick were added to his list. But survival was not that simple. Weeks later Hannelore found herself, alone, outside the gates of Auschwitz, pushed toward the smoking crematoria.
The woman describes her childhood and her Aunt Anna and Uncle Billy, who lived in a wonderful mansion filled with beautiful carpets, vases, and paintings. Most special of all were four ebony elephants that she loved to played with. When World War II began, she was sent to live in Canada and, while she was gone, her aunt, uncle, and father died. After hearing the story, Annie wants to visit the old country, and her mother agrees that it is time. Annie is determined to find the elephants, but it is not until they visit a restaurant on their last night that she discovers the figurines in a glass case and hears the story of how Uncle Billy left them there for his niece to find.
A heartbreaking story of loss and love.As autumn turns toward winter in 1938 Berlin, life for Marianne Kohn, a young Jewish girl, begins to crumble. First there was the burning of the neighbourhood shops. Then her father, a mild-mannered bookseller, must leave the family and go into hiding. No longer allowed to go to school or even sit in a café, Marianne’s only comfort is her beloved mother. Things are bad, but could they get even worse? Based on true events, this fictional account of hatred and racism speaks volumes about both history and human nature.