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Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web Paperback – May 9, 2006
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Starred Review. Nicholas's acclaimed The Rape of Europa helped galvanize the return of Nazi-looted art. While this work is unlikely to have such practical impact, it demonstrates a similar breadth of research and historical compassion. She looks at the effect of Nazi policies on children as a recounting of the nonmilitary story of WWII. Casting a wide net, Nicholas examines such phenomena as the Kindertransports—in which Jewish children were brought from central Europe to England on the eve of the war—and the transport of supposedly "Aryan" Norwegian girls to Germany to breed. Nicholas shows how the Nazis tried, with varying degrees of success, to export their eugenic theories and racist ideology to the educational realm throughout occupied Europe. And focusing on the homeland of the Third Reich, she delineates how German children were socialized into Nazi culture. Relying on a prodigious amount of primary and secondary sources as well as interviews, she emphasizes the resilience of the young. "Most of Europe's children would, in the next few years, develop a self-protective shell of voyeurism and casualness toward the monstrous events around them." But as she notes in conclusion, the horrors of the war years stayed with those who saw them through young eyes. At times, Nicholas loses her focus, retelling the much-told story of the war itself. But there is no doubt that she has put together a well-written, compelling history that makes us look at the war era anew. 39 photos, 3 maps. (May 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Hitler believed children were "the most precious treasure of the people." But not all children. This powerful, passionate history brings close the daily experiences of young people and their families across Europe from the time of Hitler's rise to the end of World War II and its aftermath. The accounts of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel, perhaps the two most famous children caught in the Nazi web, get passing mention, but Nicholas (whose The Rape of Europe won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1994) draws on a flood of stirring personal stories that have not been told: eyewitness accounts of young people as victims, perpetrators, soldiers, forced laborers, resisters, rescuers, and bystanders. The detail, fully documented in extensive notes at the back, is part of a clear, chronological narrative. The statistics can numb the imagination, but the scholarship is never distant. Nicholas passionately engages the reader with the anguish of one family at a time, whether it is the children sent away to safety, the reunion after the war, the massacres of babies and toddlers. Occasional small black-and-white photos are unforgettable: one shows children too young to work, unaware of their fate, calmly awaiting the deadly showers at Auschwitz. The combination of the authoritative overview with the searing detail makes this an invaluable reference source as well as a riveting history for the general reader. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
The horror inflicted upon the children of Europe was not confined to the period of the war as the book also looks at the fate of the children left alive at the end of the war - those who had lost all their living relatives in the Holocaust; the ones who had been selected for Germanization (many of whom had been so young at the time they were taken from their families that they could not recall where they were from); the millions who ended up in Displaced Persons camps, etc. This is a harrowing read that recounts the trapped lives led by millions of children in Europe during WW II, the aftermath, and serves as a timely reminder - of the dangers of prejudice and bigotry.
According to the title and side flap descriptions of this book, a reader might be led to believe that this book would have been more specific, regarding the children of the Holocaust. However, many facts that would have been extremely valuable to the reader are skimmed through, while other facts about the children of WWII are expanded and then repeated over and over again.
If the reader is not knowleadgeable about WWII and wants to read a book about what led to WWII and how the people were treated, then this book will interest the reader. The majority of this book is a combo lesson on WWII-101 and WWII-102.
I found the most interesting parts of the book to lie in the last 2 chapters, because in these chapters, the author describes what happened to the children of the war AFTER it was all over.