This collection presents an arc of historical experience of Jewish child and teen life during the Shoah. Across Central and Eastern Europe, the young and hunted in these stories hide in forests; survive in ghettoes and camps; assume new identities under the protection of Righteous Among the Nations. With the exception of two historical fiction narratives, the stories were reconstructed from the oral testimonies of child and teen survivors, many of whom settled in Toronto. As a daughter of two child survivors, Carol Lipszyc has also included stories of her parents, natives of Belarus and Lublin, Poland. The stories in this collection depict children as creative, resilient, aged-before their time, as they adapt to their unconscionable reality. The historical experience in this collection provides a wide spectrum of what a race of children endured; the few that attested to that experience in this collection lend voice, detail and insight to a massive, unfathomable crime.
There has been extensive material published on the Shoah over the past decades. Soon, as fewer survivors remain, writers will steer more and more towards narrative that has been reconstructed from the historical, archival material available. Because Lipszyc is a daughter of survivors, she brings a particular sensitivity to the subject. In stories such as “The Eldest of the Jews”; “Merchants of Mercy”; “Journey of a Coin”, the reader meets children who must somehow assimilate state-sponsored and organized genocide, and adapt to that death culture on a day-by-day basis in the hopes of possibly surviving. In some instances, the children use their imaginations to survive day-byday and assimilate that reality. Children, like the child protagonist in “Feather Boy,” also behave in a dissociative way when grappling with trauma. Overall, the children and adolescents captured in these stories are given agency in this collection.
“Carol Lipszyc’s stories are both moving and historically accurate. Her documentary style provides a sense of what life was like for young persons not only during the catastrophe, but in the months before and after. Readers should not expect stereotypical Shoah-tales. Complexities abound. I was particularly struck by the final tale, “A Jewish Interrogation,” in which a young survivor who has passed herself off as a Pole, is interrogated after the war by fellow Jews and made to prove her Jewishness. This is indicative of the uncanny way in which several of Lipszyc’s stories explore Jewish identity.”
—Kenneth Sherman, author of What the Furies Bring, winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award.
“Carol Lipszyc’s book takes us into the world of Jewish child victims of the Holocaust before they became survivors. Her sensitive literary style then makes us companions to the experiences of those Jewish children in the Holocaust. Lipszyc’s literary genre is a valuable addition to child survivor testimonies and autobiographies.”
—Paul Valent, child survivor of the Holocaust, traumatologist, writer, author of Child Survivors of the Holocaust