TITLE: Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
AUTHOR: Andrea Warren (again)
WHO IS THE ORPHAN? This is the true story of Jack Mandelbaum from Gdynia, Poland. He was born in 1927.
HOW WAS HE ORPHANED? Jack came from a loving family and lived an idyllic childhood. As the Nazis were gearing up to invade Poland he still didn't think of himself as Jewish, probably because his parents did not attend weekly services. Jack was a public school student where he learned prayers from nuns and priests and joined his Catholic friends for Christmas choraling. He thought of himself first and foremost as Polish.
Then Jack's life changed from days of contentment to days of avoiding the Nazis to winding up in a concentration camp, separated from his family. Though he did not know it, he was orphaned during this time. His father died in another concentration camp, his mother and younger brother died in a gas chamber and his older sister was shot by the Nazis.
WHAT WAS ORPHAN LIFE LIKE FOR HIM? Jack recounts what concentration camp life was like (and it isn't pretty). It was filled with tiny scraps of putrid food, work, beatings, lice, filth, disease and near starvation. Friendships with fellow captives and his determination to be reunited with his family, whom he thought still alive, kept him going.WHAT WAS HIS TURNING POINT? Liberation was an ecstatic time but also heartbreaking as he pieced together what happened to his family.
HOW DOES HIS LIFE TURN-OUT? Jack immigrated to the United States and wound up in Kansas City. He was a successful businessman who married and had seven children. He became active in Holocaust survivor groups but made a point of not allowing himself to be consumed by hate.
“God gave us the power to be good or evil. This is our choice. Because some pick evil, we must work together to recognize and stop it. But while we survivors may lead the charge, we cannot do this alone. It must be the goal of all people.”
This is a hard story to share with children, but they must be made aware of it, so they can be ever vigilant as the future unfolds.
Ages 12 and up