Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps

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Annotation: Describes the life of Jack Mandelbaum, a Polish Jew, who with his family, must endure the hardships of a concentration camp without giving up hope of seeing each other again.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #290673
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition Date: 2002
Pages: 146 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-000767-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-38024-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-000767-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-38024-0
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 00038899
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Simply told, Warren's powerful story blends the personal testimony of Holocaust survivor Jack Mandelbaum with the history of his time, documented by stirring photos from the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mandelbaum was 12 when the Nazis came to Poland in 1939. At first the thought of war was "thrilling." Then he saw his prosperous, happy home torn apart, and he spent three years as a teenager in the death camps in Germany, where he survived by a combination of courage, friendship, and luck. Warren, who never knew any Jews when she was growing up in a small Nebraska town, brings both passion and the distance of the outsider to the story. True to Mandelbaum's youthful viewpoint, she lets the story unfold slowly so readers don't know until the end what happened to Jack's mother and brother after they were separated, or whether his friends survived. The combination of Mandelbaum's experience and Warren's reporting of the whole picture makes this an excellent introduction for readers who don't know much about the history. There's only one false note. Unlike Anita Lobel's No Pretty Pictures (1998) and many other personal accounts, there's a radiant innocence here: everything "before" was blissful ("It was a lovely life"), and, even in the camps, Jack never has an ugly thought. The design is open and inviting with clear type, many photos, and an excellent multimedia bibliography.
Horn Book
Based on interviews with Holocaust survivor Jack Mandelbaum, Warren's book stays close to its focus, gaining its impact through attention to the particulars of one boy's experience. Told with journalistic immediacy and less ponderous than many similar accounts published for children, this book is not only compelling testimony to the Holocaust but an involving survival story as well. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
A moving memoir recounts an all-too-familiar chain of events. Jack Mandelbaum, the child of a loving, middle-class Jewish family in Poland, had his happy childhood and adoring parents snatched away from him and experienced the worst horrors of the Holocaust. In 1939, just before the Nazi invasion of Poland, Jack's family left their city for the countryside, hoping that the Nazis would leave them alone. But after two years of working as a laborer for the Nazis, Jack, then 15, was rounded up along with the other 900 Jews in the village. Separated from his mother and little brother, he was taken to Blechhammer concentration camp where he experienced the horrible initiation into camp life—all his hair was shaved off, he was given a number (16013) that was to be his only identity to the Nazis, and the ill-fitting cotton uniform and wooden shoes that were to be his clothes. After three years of wretched deprivation and terror, he and the other prisoners woke up one morning to discover that the guards had abandoned the camp. For the first time, no one was controlling Jack's every movement and, amazingly, he just walked out the front gates. The date, he learned later, was May 7, 1945; 18-year-old Jack weighed 80 pounds. Eventually, he learned what had happened to his family and that only two of his relatives had survived—an aunt and an uncle. Chillingly, Jack says, "If I had known this when I was in the camps, why would I have struggled so hard to live?" Though told by another narrator, direct quotes of his remembrances make Jack's story immediate and personal. Telling details of moments of horror, desperation, misery, and the tricks of survival add to this richly involving biography. (introduction, afterword, recommended reading, films, software, and Web sites) (Biography. 10-15)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Through the words and memories of Jack Mandelbaum, Warren presents a harrowing account of a Jewish boy's experience in Nazi prison camps. Mandelbaum had lived a comfortable life with his family in Gdynia, Poland, until the German invasion forced them to flee to a relative's village in 1939. Later, when the Jews were sent to concentration camps, the 12-year-old became separated from the rest of his family and wound up in the Blechhammer camp. By describing events through the boy's voice, the author does an excellent job of letting his words carry the power of the story. She avoids historical analysis, sticking to Mandelbaum's experiences, and brings readers into the nightmarish world of the concentration camp with a strong feeling of immediacy. As with many stories of great suffering, some of the minor details, such as risking death to steal a jar of marmalade, deliver the most impact. Besides the physical hardship, Warren conveys how frustrating and confusing it was for a child in such an environment. Once liberated, the young man learned the sad fate of his family and as he ironically observed, had he known his parents and siblings would not survive, he might not have struggled so hard to live himself. Black-and-white contemporary photographs illustrate the book. This story works as an introduction to the Holocaust and will also interest readers of Lila Perl's Four Perfect Pebbles (Greenwillow, 1996), Anne Frank's diary, and other works on the period.-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 138-140) and index.
Word Count: 24,194
Reading Level: 6.1
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.1 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 47667 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.2 / points:8.0 / quiz:Q27780
Lexile: 820L
Guided Reading Level: Y
Fountas & Pinnell: Y

The life-changing story of a young boy’s struggle for survival in a Nazi-run concentration camp. Narrated in the voice of Holocaust survivor Jack Mandelbaum, this harrowing true story includes black-and-white photos from the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

When twelve-year-old Jack Mandelbaum is separated from his family and shipped off to the Blechhammer concentration camp, his life becomes a never-ending nightmare. With minimal food to eat and harsh living conditions threatening his health, Jack manages to survive by thinking of his family.

In this Robert F. Silbert Honor book, readers will glimpse the dark reality of life during the Holocaust, and how one boy made it out alive.

  • William Allen White Award Winner
  • Robert F. Silbert Honor
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • VOYA Nonfiction Honor Book

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