Title : Heroes of the Holocaust : True Stories of Rescues by Teens
Author : Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun
Publisher : Scholastic
Age group : 10+ years
'Heroes of the Holocaust' is the book celebrating the spirit, fortitude, grit and determination of five teenagers who defied all rules laid by the Nazis and put their sincerest efforts in helping the Jews during WWII period. Despite the situations, the stories are not depressing or sad rather these are captivating and inspiring accounts of young adults who never feared for their own lives, instead they displayed unmatched sensibilities and compassion and had no qualms following their own hearts.
The book starts with a brief introduction of the history marking the dates of - rise of the Hitler's empire, the gradual invasions and occupations by Hitler's armies in neighboring countries, Hitler's 'final solution' creating the conditions for Second World War and finally the fall of Nazis. The simplified map of Eurpoe in the beginning helps in understanding how the Nazis were advancing and some of the neutral countries which provided the safer grounds to many Jews during that time. Also, the terminologies used, such as SS, Gestapo, resistance groups, labor and concentration camps are briefly explained in the prologue part of the book making it easier for the young readers to understand.
Poland based Maria Andzelm helped in hiding two Jewish men underneath the floor of a barn for two years when her many other Jewish neighbors and friends were deported to camps for inhumanly treatment. All through that time, she firmly believed in her father's faith 'If you do something good, something good will happen to you'.
In another story, 16 years old Henri formed a Jewish student group in Belgium and helped his fellow Jews in hiding and providing the basic supplies to live for as long as possible. They truly exemplified the quality that during the most horrible times of their lives, they were looking out for others.
Then there is the story of Anne's (Diary of Anne Frank) sister's friend - Hilde. Hilde was a nurse in Holland, who helped many Jewish little children about to be deported to the camps with their parents, find Christian homes to avoid the inevitable.
All these stories are true accounts with original names of persons and places which makes it all the more authentic. After each story, the curiosity of the readers to know about these heroes is satisfied by briefly providing the details of how their lives changed after the World War II. Some of these people were later honored as 'Righteous Among Nations' and their names entered the pages of history in golden words.
Those times though very sad, brought the best in many people which gives hope for many generations to come that there can never be dearth of goodness in human race and that one Hitler can never win against innumerable such beings. I think such books are perfect way to remember those compassionate souls and follow their ideals. As the author mentions in the introductory passage : 'The Holocaust will remain a sacred and painful memory of the millions who perished. Yet in the darkest hours of the human race, the lights of compassion and courage still glowed, thanks to the heroes of the Holocaust'.
Reviews of other books on WWII: