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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Stig Dalager
Age Range: 12+
Eleven-year-old David becomes separated from his parents after they are all rounded up from their small Polish village and deported by the Nazis. Escaping from the truck they are on when it overturns in the snow, David is free but on the run. He travels many miles until eventually he is picked up by the police. Finding another opportunity to outwit his captors David escapes into the chaos of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Here he learns how to survive, first by smuggling goods on the black market and then, as the deportations increase in intensity, by begging on the streets while dodging both the Jewish police and the Gestapo. Weak and exhausted from a lack of food, David has to continue to fight for his survival.
This is a novel for young people that has been inspired by true testimonies and diaries of children who lived in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. Danish writer Stig Dalager has provided a harrowing account of life in the Ghetto for a young boy. The story is often stark and doesn’t spare the details of the appalling suffering and cruelty. The lack of humanity, not just by the Nazis and their lackeys, but also by some of his own people, who in fighting for their own survival,were often unwilling to help others. Dalager also shows, in sharp contrast, the many selfless acts of kindness too by those who had little themselves but were prepared to help other Jews whenever they could.
The excellent translation carries the reader along effortlessly. This is another book about the Holocaust for young people that deserves its place alongside such international writers as Gudrun Pausewang and Uri Orlev.
Stig Dalager is a writer of international stature. His best known novels include the acclaimed Journey in Blue (about Hans Christian Andersen) and Two Days in July (about the Stauffenberg plot to kill Hitler).