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June 19, 2017

Surviving Hitler: A Boy In The Nazi Death Camps

Surviving Hitler: A Boy In The Nazi Death Camps

By: Andrea Warren

Janek (Jack) Mandelbaum lived a comfortable life in Gdynia, Poland with his family. His father owned a fish cannery and they lived in a spacious apartment with all of the modern conveniences. His family was very close and they spent lots of time together going on picnics, hiking in the mountains and spending time at the beach. Jack loved to work on his stamp collection. He had a wonderful life. But rumors of Hitler and his treatment of the Jews began to cause panic in their town. To keep them safe, Jack’s father sent his wife, and three children to stay with relatives who lived three hundred miles away in a small village.  His father stayed behind to close his business. He was going to send them their belongings and then join them. Jack enjoyed being with his relatives in their village but they all became increasingly worried when their father did not join them. Their belongings did not arrive and Jack’s mother was told that the Nazis had been seizing every package that was sent. Jack soon found out that his father had been arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Jack didn’t know what a concentration camp was and he missed his father terribly.

On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland and crushed the Polish army. Soon England and France declared war on Germany and World War II began. Two weeks later, large tanks rolled into the village where Jack was staying and the Nazis immediately began arresting people. Soon the Jewish people had to start wearing the Star of David on their clothing, Jewish children were prohibited from attending school, and Jewish men were not allowed to work.  Food became scarce. Soon they moved in with another relative in a nearby village, hoping things would be better. Conditions worsened and then all of the Jews in the town were rounded up and put onto trains. Twelve- year- old Jack was separated from his family and ended up in the Blechhammer Concentration Camp. He was moved to several other camps after that.

This story is told in Jack’s voice as he endures the horrors of the camps trying to stay alive.  He suffered from starvation, lice, diphtheria and frostbite but he vowed that he would do everything he could to survive so that he could be reunited with his family. Readers will discover what happened to his family at the end of the book. Black and white pictures add to this harrowing story and readers will be riveted.

Recommended for Grades 5-9.

Suggested Read-A-Likes:

  • I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust by Livia Bitton Jackson
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • I Am A Star: Child Of The Holocaust by Inge Auerbacher


Review By: Jan Bridges