Into the Arms of Strangers
January 20, 2014 21 Comments
I’ve been reading books surrounding the events of the Halocaust for research for a young reader’s novel I’m working on set in Nazi Germany. And I thought I’d share the latest book with you.
War has yet to break out; rumors of it are strengthening. Diversity is enhancing and people are growing frightened. There’s a movement taking shape – something about a train leaving for Britain to take your kids to be adopted by families in case of war.
The Kindertransport was an effort to evacuate Jewish kids under 17 from Nazi-occupied countries to be taken to live with British families who were willing to raise them and keep them safe from the Nazi’s clutches.
I went into this book thinking it would be an uplifting, go-happy, redemptive story. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Written by first-person accounts, it’s heartbreaking to read about the parents sending their children off on trains promising to see them soon, when, in their hearts they knew they would likely never see their children again.
Many of them never did.
Several children were adopted for the wrong reasons and were abused, mistreated, or neglected.
And the aftermath of several kinders revisiting their childhood homes, the platform where they departed from their parents, the camps their parents were sent to, as older citizens, is just heart-wrenching.
Yet, through these first-person accounts, you can really get a feel for what life was like back in Europe during the War. If you’re into this period of history, I would highly recommend this book as a sort of parenthesis in the middle of the big picture of everything else that was going on. (Oh, by they way, here’s a story about several children who made it out alive…)
It’s called Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport by Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer.