Captivating. Horrifying. Inspiring. These are just some of the words I used to describe We Must Not Forget: Holocaust Stories of Survival and Resistance, by Deborah Hopkinson, to family and friends as I read.
June 6, 2021, marked seventy-seven years since D-Day, the day when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, and began to reclaim control from Nazi forces in World War II. As time continues to pass and we are confronted by modern horrors and daily violence, it can be difficult to come to terms with the enormity of the genocide that took place in Europe, under Hitler's command. This book breathes life into the stories of Holocaust survivors across Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Poland. Archival images, interviews, and firsthand accounts of children and teens who hid, fought, and escaped persecution really lay bare the harrowing experiences of trying to stay alive in a world that wanted them dead.
"I want you to be upset about it because I want you to think about what I am telling you." -Holocaust survivor Chella Velt Meekcoms Kryszek
Hopkinson's book is thoughtfully organized into three parts: Part One includes accounts from Germany and the Netherlands; Part Two focuses on France; Part Three takes place in Poland. At the end of each chapter, a link is provided so the reader can learn more about the people and time in which the stories took place (although some links no longer work). Hopkinson says it best in her introduction: "Some of the events in this book are hard to read about. I've been guided by the words of Chella Velt Meekcoms Kryszek, who never shied from telling young people about her experiences as a teen during the Holocaust: 'I want you to be upset about it because I want you to think about what I am telling you,' she said." The book includes a call to action, reminding the reader that heroism includes everyday acts of kindness and solidarity. The twelve stories of survival-while brutal and terrifying-are incredibly important to understanding the scope and scale of the Holocaust, the power of the Nazi state, and the determination and will of those persecuted.
To find this and other books about the Holocaust and World War II, visit www.richlandlibrary.com, or call (803) 929-3434 to talk to a librarian in the Children's Room at Richland Library Main.