I read this book several years ago and then lost it
Heartwarming may be an overstatement but it shows how one group of Holocasut survivals managed to overcome the horrors that they had experienced and started to build themselves new lives in the UK.
Meeting one of the Boys on March of the Living 2011 in Poland prompted me to buy it again.
Warning - remember that only a tiny minority survived - over 1.5m children perished - and the British government only let in a tiny portion of that tiny minority - the Boys. We deceive ourselves if we believe that the UK has always had an open door policy to refugees and the oppressed
We have all heard of the Holocaust and we think we know about it from books and films. But this book is 90% first hand account, and very hard-hitting. The unbelievable depravity that these boys (and some girls) endured and survived is hard to comprehend and far exceed any fictional horror that man can dream up. I found the first part of the book shocking and very painful to read. But when "The Boys" are freed, and find themselves in a caring environment we rejoice in their blossoming. For me, reading this book also led to a personal "shock", for I realised when two-thirds of the way through, that one of "The Boys" who survived some particularly barbaric camps, is my dentist and has been for many years. So, unusually, my dentist has become a hero of sorts (though I shall not mention it to him - I think he would be embarrassed) and I actually look forward to my next visit to the dentist's chair.
As someone who was born barely a decade after the events portrayed in this book and who now lives beside the airport where the survivors first arrived after leaving the horrors of post war Germany I compared my upbringing with that of the boys who are the subject of this amazing book and was left feeling eternally grateful at my modest upbringing in a small town in northern England.
I have nothing but admiration for the courage, tenacity, honesty and sheer bloody mindedness of these young survivors of the holocaust.
Martin Gilbert certainly does not pull any punches and by letting the boys tell their story mainly in their own words the full horror of their treatment at the hands of their Nazi tormentors is conveyed to the reader.
This book should be compulsory reading to all children old enough to comprehend the consequences of what happens when a dictatorship is allowed to poison the minds of its people and should remind us all that we are fortunate to live in a society where freedom is a cherished possesion of all its citizens.
When I read "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" I was once again reminded of the story of 732 Jewish boys and girls whose story Martin Gilbert tells in his "The Boys: Triumph Over Adversity". One book is from the viewpoint of someone standing outside the suffering while the other one is about the kids who went through hell. I'm not a believer in the many after-life versions of hell, but I am certainly a believer in the human ability to create hell for their fellow humans. In fact, we're really creative in the many ways we cause others pain, and that worries me.
"The Boys: Triumph Over Adversity" tells such a story. This is the story of children who (along with their siblings and parents) were uprooted from their homes and dragged into the horrors of the Holocaust. These children were originally from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Their lives were the lives of ordinary children with loving parents. As they just below and above ten years old for the most part, these children had no understanding of all of the abrupt changes in their lives. From living in regular homes, they were stuffed into ghettos and then dragged to even worse circumstances.
And then it all ended. No more parents or siblings, all alone in the world after having endured what only few people in the world have had to endure.
After their liberation from the camps, they had to begin rebuilding their lives in Britain. Despite being physically and emotionally drained by their nightmare past, they drew strength from their group. After leaving their hostels, they remained a close-knit and devoted band of siblings. Their families having been destroyed, they created a family among themselves.
So many people ask themselves how something as terrible as the Holocaust could have happened. I doubt there is any one answer to that question. After all, we let history repeat itself all over the world. What I do believe is that we are all capable of becoming something we had never thought was possible. Ervin Staub in his "Roots of Evil" and Max Weber in his "On Bureaucracy" - Iron Cage both try to look at why people are dehumanized and warn us of the consequences.
Who can or should ever be allowed to forget the horrors of the Holocaust, this book tells horrific individual accounts from this time, young children losing their entire families, living day by day in the hope of survival in labour or the infamous death camps of Auschwitz or Treblinka and then at the end of the war as the allies were closing in the death marches. This book also tells the story of 732 of these children who were brought to Britain ( one thousand were allowed for but only this number could be found ) where they were given every help with what they had experienced and help with education and future employment, some of these children eventually settling in America, Canada, Israel and other countries. I found the book extremely interesting and factual, I must mention though that the flitting between each childs experiences made the accounts difficult to follow and confusing but a good read.
As with a few other reviewers I have the privilege of counting one of 'The Boys' as a friend. He is a quiet, considerate and charming man who carries a story of suffering and horror beyond belief. Meeting him and getting to know him has been life-changing and an honour. This book details accounts which should be read by everyone, and if people were brave enough to look at the mistakes odf the past and learn from them, then the future could be so much better for everyone. A definitive work.
'The Boys' is an exhaustive account of the collected memories of 732, mostly Jewish boys in their late teens, who came to Britain after the 2WW, having experienced the worst the German Nazi regime had inflicted on them, their families and their friends. It is a 'magnum opus' and though most readers will already know the extent of Nazi atrocities, reading these recollections brings home in stark form the depth of evil which otherwise ordinary people can visit upon their fellow human beings.
It is not a comfortable read. Page after page after page, new horrors are revealed. I for one could not continue to read at several points, and had to break away from the book, and re-visit at a later time. Added poignancy is added to the text by its rather 'matter-of-fact', non judgemental tone. How many of those who contributed to the book were seemingly without acute rancour or bitterness, after what they experienced, is beyond my understanding. And the strapline of the book 'Triumph over Adversity' is so appropriate, since many of these survivors have gone on to have very successful careers and happy family lives.
Martin Gilbert has rendered humanity a huge service in undertaking the arduous task of ensuring this generation's memories are preserved in written form.
Wonderful account of the 732 youths that survived the Holocaust and came to Britain after liberation. It follows them before, during and after the War. One of them when he describes the moment he saw his first Son for the first time after he was born, holding him and looking up to the a heavens and saying Atl his Mother who did not survive "you were right, here is the next generation". Is one of the most emotional things I haver ever read. Sh e hide them in different places because she said its they stayed together they would all die. This ways split up one stood a chance. He was tthe only one of his family who survived
The book arrived in excellent condition and was a snip at this price. Its contents are an eye-opener for all those interestered in "the life and near-death" of the small number of Jews that experienced the Nazi concentration, labour and death camps and lived to tell the tale. A riveting read.