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In this work, based on interviews, letters, and unpublished reminiscences, historian Gilbert (Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century, LJ 10/1/96) competently weaves together the experiences of 732 young Holocaust survivors.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
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