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The Boys: The Untold Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp Survivors Hardcover – April, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

At the end of World War II, Britain offered to take in 1,000 young survivors of the German concentration camps; only 732 could be found. The Boys is the story of those children, mostly Polish and Hungarian Jews who, against all odds, survived the horrors of the camps. The title is slightly misleading, as there were a few girls in the group; however, girls under the age of 16 were murdered in the camps at much higher rates than boys. At the time of their ordeal, most of these children were in their teens, though a few were younger. By the time the war ended and the camps were liberated, many were near death. The youths' survival was certainly due in part to their own determination to live, but it was also a matter of chance--unexpected kindness, serendipitous opportunities, the luck of the draw.

Drawn together by their shared experience, "the boys" remained close after emigration to England, and even though several of them have since moved to America and Canada, they continue to celebrate their friendship with an annual dinner. Author Martin Gilbert has attended these reunions for 20 years. Three years ago he suggested the boys send him their recollections of life in the camps, and from these memories this book takes its shape. Harrowing, horrifying, yet deeply moving, The Boys stands as a testimonial to those who survived the Holocaust as well as those who did not.

From Library Journal

In this work, based on interviews, letters, and unpublished reminiscences, historian Gilbert (Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century, LJ 10/1/96) competently weaves together the experiences of 732 young Holocaust survivors. They depict scenes ranging from life in pre-war Poland and Hungary to the ghettos, camps, and death marches, and, finally liberation. Known as "the boys" even though they include about 80 girls, these young people survived unspeakable horrors, often seeing family members and other loved ones killed in front of them, and many came perilously close more than once to dying. After the war, with legal emigration to Palestine almost impossible, the boys made the journey to Britain through the efforts of government officials and charitable groups and managed to keep in touch, even forming the '45 Aid Society. These inspiring stories of survival and courage should appeal to general readers as well as scholars.
-?John A. Drobnicki, York Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 511 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805044027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805044027
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Martin Gilbert is one of the leading historians of his generation. An Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford - of which he was a fellow for thirty years - he is the official biographer of Churchill and the author of eighty books, among them Churchill - A Life and The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust. For more information please visit http://www.martingilbert

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 1997
Format: Hardcover
In reading this book's 480 pages I must have said "Unbelieveable" at least 480 times. What a remarkable story.

It's sad that the passing of time and the passing of the individuals who experienced and survived such an ordeal tends to soften the images of those terrible times. I am grateful to "The Boys" who contributed to Martin Gilbert's requst to write their stories down. I promise them that in the same way that they commited their lives to keeping their families spiits alive, I will do the same for them. I will ensure that my children know of the past and learn from it.

This book, along with other Holocaust memorials and projects, will be read years from now and make future generations proud of their Jewish heritage. "The Boys" lives have not been in vain, they have lit a path of hope and fulfillment for all that follow
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By "husband3" on June 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There were times I almost could not continue to read the book. I pictured myself as the mother watching in horror, the child, the sister, the brother, and it all seemed real and unbelievable.
But as with all Holocaust stories, if these fortunate, brave and lucky souls, could have survived and lived to tell the horrors that still invade their minds, the least I owe them and especially those that perished, is that I should read the account.
Inspiring, very well written, and everlasting impact.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on July 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Martin Gilbert is probably one of the most prodigious historians alive. This book required interviews with the 732 survivors it profiles ("Boys" includes both men and women) and those who knew them after the war. Some were as young as eight or nine when the war started. Many themes Gilbert covers are like those one can read in other personal Holocaust histories. But the experiences in each case are unique.

Martin provides two statistics I find particularly haunting. While 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust--including victims of pre-war pogroms, ghettos, concentration and death camps and death marches--only 100,000 survived the camps. And while Britain agreed to take in 1,000 Jewish "children" under the age of 16 after the war, only 732 could be found alive.

But for me, the most fascinating part of the book is the repeated confirmation that those who returned to their homes after the war found the same kind of murderous hatred among their former neighbors as Jan Tomasz Gross describes in Neighbors.

In other words, Jedwabne was not unique. Gross has himself said as much and plans to write more on the subject. But Gilbert also confirms that murders of Jews by locals happened during the war all over Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, and to a lesser extent, in Hungary. It also happened after the war all over Europe --- especially in the East. Returning Jews found neighbors who wished them dead, and in thousands of cases killed them. The "boys", obviously, survived. But many lost brothers, parents, friends, after the war, in Poland, Hungary, and elsewhere. Sir Martin Gilbert gives us the living proof.

--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I can't add much to the excellent published reviews. This is one of the most outstanding books I have read. Read it to learn what Jewish life was like before 1939 and to learn of the horrors of the camps and forced marches. Yet the book shows that there is hope as the "boys" remember the words of their fathers "In a place where there are no men, be a man". If you could get an older teen-ager to get through the beginning of this book (which is a little slow), they would get a tremendous amount from this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on March 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
This remarkable book consists of the comprehensive results interviews with and letters by 732 concentration camp survivors from the holocaust.
These young people-both boys and girls-where settled in Britain after World War II , some stayed and made lives in Britain , while others immigrated to the USA , Australia , Canada and Israel.
Some of the boys made their mark in the Israel War of Independence defending the fledgling Jewish State after it was attacked by five Arab armies , aiming to anihilate all Jews in Israel (as the Arabs and anti-Zionists of the world aim for today i.e a second holocaust.)
Part of the book consists of harrowing eyewitness accounts of the survivors , hence an important testament to holocaust remembrance. The accounts are often graphic and bring the grim reality of what happened to the Jewish people during world War II to bear on us.
It is important to remember the holocaust again , at times when some , like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others , deny it's existance.

It is important to remember the holocaust , at a time when the Islamic world and their far-left allies wish to destroy Israel , the phoenix that arose from the ashes of the Jewish people , and subject the Jews of Israel to a second holocaust.
It is interesting to see how for most of the survivors Israel and Zionism where an important part of their consciousness.
Anti-Zionist propaganda aims to prepare for genocide of Jews , in the same way as Nazi propaganda did , and therefore all Anti-Zionist and anti-Israel propaganda should be treated the same as Nazism-with no tolerance.
Most holocaust survivors and their descendants today live in Israel.
The future of the descendants of the survivors needs to be preserved , and therefore Israel must prevail.
That is what we must fight for when we say 'Never Again!'
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