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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, under-stated story of life in the Warsaw ghetto, 23 Mar 2000
By A Customer
The story of her families descent from an affluent middle class life in Poland, to a squalid hand to mouth existence in the Warsaw ghetto, and eventual dispersion. A first hand account of some of the most terrible events of the century. The accumulation of small details of everyday life are very effective in bringing home the terror of the times.
Well written and gripping. I have actually logged on today to buy a copy for my mother. Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very moving book to read in this time of luxury and greed., 24 Feb 2000
By 
Jazz Johal (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This book certainly brought me down to earth with a bump. An excellent (true) story of a young girl escaping the holocaust in the WWII.
This is not one of those "I hate Nazis books" in fact I feel that she showed great awe for the first German that she came across. It is more of a 'The war will be over soon and we can return to our middle-class way of life once again'.
You will always hear people today saying, "I would have escaped" or "I would have fought back". After reading this you will appreciate why nobody could escape or fight back.
The awareness that they are slowly becoming trapped in the ghetto that first offered them sanctuary is almost suffocating. If you're content in your protected little world and want to come down to earth a bit then this is the book for you.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Believe it or not, there were joyful times too, 6 Jun 2011
By 
Lost John (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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Janina David was born in 1930 into a prosperous Jewish family living in Kalisz, close to what was then Poland's western border with Germany. (The border having moved, Kalisz is now in central Poland). Aware that an attack on Poland was imminent, and of the treatment of Jews by the Nazis, Janina's family moved in late summer 1939 to what was regarded at the time as the relative safety of Warsaw. But Poland was unable to resist the Wehrmacht for long and, following a terrifying bombardment, Warsaw fell and was occupied.

The flight to Warsaw, the bombardment, and all associated experiences made a deep impression on nine and a half year old Janina and are well described in A Square of Sky, the book she published in 1964, by which time she was living and working in London. She also recalls life in Kalisz and two summer holidays before the war spent in the company of the family's interestingly unreliable servant girl, Stefa, in a holiday flat in a villa some short distance from a Polish village she calls Crossways. In 1946, at the end of A Touch of Earth - the second part of her memoir and also included in this volume - Janina returns to the villa and finds Christina, the now grown-up daughter of the former owner. Christina reports that at the villa the war had been very quiet; Germans came no closer than the main road and seemed not to find the lane that led to the villa. "... if you had stayed here", said Christina, "no one would have known... Your parents and you and Stefa. You could have had the empty flat..."

It is understandable that at that point Janina had to break-off the conversation and go for a walk alone. For during those years so undisturbed at the villa she had lost both her parents and virtually all her other pre-war acquaintances. All the family's property was gone too. She had lived with her parents in the Warsaw Ghetto, enduring all its horrors right up to the point of the uprising prompted by its final clearance to Treblinka in summer 1943. At the eleventh hour she was smuggled out and after briefly staying with a Roman Catholic family in Warsaw was placed in a convent boarding school.

Some at least of the nuns drew their own conclusions about her race and very early one morning, when the nuns correctly judged that a visit from the Gestapo was imminent, Janina was rushed to another convent - back in Warsaw. There she joined children who had been evacuated from a school in eastern Poland, in a building that by chance bordered on the former ghetto. Again she endured many deeply disturbing and distressing experiences, and again she witnessed preparations for an uprising, this time the August 1944 attempt by Polish nationalists to themselves drive out the Germans. The nuns led another hasty retreat, this time to a country mansion in an area held by Germany almost to the end of the war. There malnutrition became a major problem, yet another serious threat to Janina's survival.

All is movingly described and, so far as one can discern, very accurately too. I have scarcely touched on the horrors, but Janina does not shrink from them. Neither, though, does she sensationalise. The shocking fact that human beings can adjust to almost unimaginable degradation and suffering she leaves to speak for itself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is beautifully written and a lesson from history that still needs ..., 29 Jun 2014
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This review is from: A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland (Paperback)
This is beautifully written and a lesson from history that still needs to be heard. Thoroughly recommended and despite it's challenging setting a most enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland (Paperback)
Enjoyed this book , it is well written and it arrived very quickly. If you are interested in this part of history then I recommend this book
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sobering reminder, 25 Oct 2012
By 
Karen McMaster (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland (Paperback)
This is a sobering reminder of how children suffered in wartime Europe. It also illustrates how random,destructive and pointless hate is, shame that lesson seems largely lost to the world already. However, the book is well written through the eyes of a child and is with enough humour to make it an enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended., 22 July 2014
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This review is from: A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland (Paperback)
A vivid portrayal of a child's point of view of living through the nazi occupation. Recommended.
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A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland
A Square of Sky: A Jewish Childhood in Wartime Poland by Janina David (Paperback - 29 Oct 2004)
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