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We Are Witnesses:
The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust

by Dr. Jacob Boas

Posted: Monday, July 24, 2000 at 03:52 PM UT

We Are Witnesses: The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust

We Are Witnesses: The Diaries of Five Teenagers Who Died in the Holocaust
by Dr. Jacob Boas

Purchase Information: Amazon

Book Details

  • Publisher: Square Fish; 1 edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312535678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312535674
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Recommend Age Range: 12+

Book Description

Boas presents excerpts from the diaries of five Jewish young people who died in Nazi concentration camps. "A twelve-year-old Polish villager named David, a deeply religious fifteen-year-old named Moshe in Belgium, a thirteen-year-old Lithuanian Communist named Yitzhak, a wealthy thirteen-year-old Hungarian named Eva, and a budding Dutch writer named Anne Frank are . . . represented here in their efforts to understand and cope with what is happening around them and to them." (Bull Cent Child Books) Index. "Grade six and up." (SLJ)

Jewish teenagers David, Yitzhak, Moshe, Eva, and Anne all kept diaries and were all killed in Hitler's death camps. These are their stories, in their own words. Author Jacob Boas is a Holocaust survivor who was born in the same camp to which Anne Frank was sent. Includes a photo insert.

From the Publisher
David Rubinowicz, Yitzhak Rudashevski, Moshe Flinker, Eva Heyman, and Anne Frank were all teenagers during World War II. They lived in different parts of Europe. They had different lives. But they all had something in common: They were Jewish, and therefore, under Hitler's twisted rule, they were five of the six million men, women, and children sentenced to death.

David and the others were also alike in that they all kept diaries. Each of them had hope - even to the very end. Unfortunately, there were no happy endings. Because the final, horrible thing David, Yitzhak, Moshe, Eva, and Anne had in common is that they were all killed. For no reason at all...

Book Reviews

From Hazel Rochman - BookList
Fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz, these personal accounts bear powerful witness to what it was like to be young at the time of the Nazis. They grew up a few miles apart in Nazi Germany. Helen Waterford was Jewish; Alfons Heck was an ardent member of the Hitler Youth. In alternating chapters, Ayer sets the personal narratives of these two Germans against the general history of the rise of Hitler, the course of World War II, and the horror of the Holocaust. While Helen was in hiding, Alfons was a fanatic believer in the Master Race. While she was crammed in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz, he was a teenage commander of frontline troops, ready to fight and die for the glory of Hitler and the Fatherland. Their postwar experiences in the U.S. are just as compelling: Helen trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered self; Alfons awakening to what he'd been part of, determined now to warn the world about it ("All of us, perhaps unknowingly, had looked the other way, preferring not to know the truth" ). Occasionally the narrative's organization is confusing, especially the constant switching from Ayer's general history to the first-person narratives. But the stark contrasts between the Jewish and the Nazi experiences are dramatic and thought provoking. Both Germans speak quietly and honestly, without hand-wringing, cover-up, or self-pity. Readers will want to talk about the questions raised: What would I have done? Could it happen again Born in 1943 in a Nazi camp, Boas is a Holocaust survivor. He draws on the diaries of Jewish teenagers to tell what happened to ordinary families as they were crowded into the ghettos, persecuted, and murdered. Each of the diaries breaks off suddenly, sometimes in mid-sentence. David Rubinowicz, the son of a dairyman in the Polish countryside, started keeping a journal when he was 12; he was gassed in Treblinka. Yitzhak Rudashevski, an ardent communist at 13, lived in Vilna; he wrote his diary in Yiddish; he describes people wild with terror. Moshe Flinker, an Orthodox Jew, pretends to be a Gentile in Brussels and asks what God can intend with such suffering. Eva Heyman, an assimilated Jew in Hungary, watches her grandmother go mad. All the teenagers mourn a special friend. Like Ayer, Boas incorporates his own commentary with excerpts from each diary to personalize the history and to compare the individual experiences. Boas also makes us think in a new way about Anne Frank's classic diary. He points out that Anne's experience was unusual: in hiding with her family and in being cared for by loving Gentiles, she had an easier time than most Jews holed up in the ghettos of Europe. Boas sees "the highest form of resistance" in Anne and all these young writers. Yet there's no comfort. The final words of Yitzhak's diary, "We may be fated for the worst," were true.

From The Horn Book, Inc.
Foreword by Patricia C. McKissack. Narrative accounts of five young Jews, including Anne Frank, whose diaries hold their observations and emotions, give immediacy to the horrors of the Holocaust. The text provides historical information and compares the experiences of the diarists, quoting liberally from the teenagers' writings. Although these condensed versions lack the impact of a complete diary, the cumulative effect of the five journals is overwhelming.

From Judy Chernak - Children's Literature
From varied backgrounds, different countries, diverse religious outlooks and assorted experiences, the voices of five youngsters clearly describe how they coped with the horrible sufferings which preceded their murder. David Rubinowicz, 13, Poland, chronicled his family's hopeless slide from independent dairy keepers to dispossessed refugees crammed into a ghetto, slowly crushed by the Nazi machine, death-marched to Treblinka and gassed. Yitzhak Rudashevski, 13, Lithuania, extolled the glories of learning, hoped the Russians and socialism would save the Jews, detailed the incredible struggle to maintain schools and culture in the ghetto, turned partisan at 14 to avoid "being led like sheep to the slaughter," but was rounded up and killed anyway. Moshe Flinker, a devout Polish Jew who survived two years of German occupation before fleeing into Belgium and "passing," filled his diary with poems, prayers and hope for redemption in the Promised Land but perished at 19 in Auschwitz. Eva Heyman-beautiful, wealthy, pampered, assimilated, bursting with love for living-wrote from Hungary for only nine months in her 13th-birthday present diary before she was deported to Auschwitz, where Mengele himself selected her for the crematorium. This searing book ends with excerpts from the diary of Anne Frank and contrasts her relatively secure, though imprisoned, two years and her unshakable faith in the goodness of people with the main themes of her contemporaries.

From Jewish Book World
Boas, a Holocaust survivor, incorporates his own commentary using excerpts from each diary to personalize history and to compare individual experiences. He remarks that Anne Frank's experience of hiding with her family in relative comfort and care with loving gentiles was atypical. Although only some of the diaries end in mid-sentence, interrupted by the ultimate horror, all exhibit a strain of idealism throughout.

From Betsy Hearne - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
It's a sign of change in literature for young people that the subjects here--all victims of the Holocaust--do not offer the hope that many such books have offered in the past, the hope of survival. . . . Beyond its riveting focus, this book of diary excerpts is distinguished by editorial intelligence: a marked variation in the voices gives breadth, and meticulous authorial notes and transitional background commentary provide context without overwhelming the primary sources themselves. . . . In each case, specific details personalize six million statistics.

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