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1: Part of the Family: Christadelphians, the Kindertransport, and Rescue from the Holocaust Paperback – May 14, 2016
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"An invaluable illumination of small acts of astonishing bravery and generosity in the darkest days of war." - Kirkus (starred review) - named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2016
"Hensley weaves in wonderful details...In addition to the individual stories, he provides historical context, copious endnotes, more than 100 photos, pertinent maps, an extensive glossary and a bibliography. Readers with an interest in WWII, the Holocaust or religion will enjoy--and learn from--this revealing book." - BlueInk Review
"Part of the Family recalls the terrors of the Holocaust while commemorating heroic humanitarian efforts that saved lives. It illuminates the Christadelphian faith as well as the resilience of the Jewish people. It's a welcome addition to Holocaust history and literature." - Foreword Clarion Reviews
"PART OF THE FAMILY is a thoroughly researched, deeply moving, and nuanced look at a less well-known aspect of the Holocaust." - IndieReader - chosen by IndieReader as the best independently published history book of 2016
Winner of the New Apple Book Award for Best General Non-Fiction of 2016
About the Author
Jason Hensley, M.A.Ed, is the principal of a private school in California. At school, he teaches religious studies and a senior-level course on Christianity and the Holocaust. The material for this book has served as the backbone for the curriculum in the latter course. He frequently lectures on this and related topics throughout North America. Find him on Facebook, and at iwaspartofthefamily.com
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Jason Hensley's book is about Jewish children who were fostered in British Christadelphian families. I confess that, before reading this book, I had not heard of the Christadelphians. This smaller Christian denomination numbers perhaps 60,000 worldwide. The first chapter of the book is a history of the Christadelphians and is a little scholarly.
Then follows the stories of 10 children, out of a total 250 taken into Christadelphian families: "Prior to the book's publishing, each refugee's story was read by the refugees themselves and/or their family members and, in many cases, by the Christadelphian families that housed the refugees. [Jason Hensley] sought approval, and received it, for each individual story." As a non-fiction book, "Part of the Family" is extensively footnoted, with a full bibliography, glossary and index.
Each refugee's story is prefaced with a simple map of Europe with pertinent locations shown. The children in the book came from Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Interwoven with the personal stories of the refugees are details of what was happening in their countries at the time. I found this well done and very interesting.
Trivia: Children saved by Kindertransport (not part of this book) included Wulf Wolodia Grajonca, who became Bill Graham, American rock promoter, and Karola Ruth Siegel, better known as Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
Recommended reading, 4.4 stars rounded down to 4. It makes personal a small but important part of WWII history.
I received a free copy of this book for review.
Inspired by their belief that the Resurrection and Kingdom of God would not take place until all of God's promises to Abraham had been fulfilled, the Christadelphians opened their wallets, hearts, and homes to ultimately save more than 250 Jewish children from the Nazis.
As the author of Part of the Family points out, "the real life-changing lessons of the Holocaust truly begin to surface when we examine the stories of the individuals. Each of those individuals has a story and an experience that was different from that of his or her neighbor". Part of the Family gives voice to ten of these survivors who came to England as children, and lived with Christadelphians as they share their stories and unique experiences.
Engrossing, highly readable, and containing fascinating information that I had never been taught in school, such as the Catholic priests who ran a concentration camp in Croatia, this book is not for the faint hearted or those who need a "safe space" from words or thoughts outside their insular comfort zone.
Stepping into the shoes of the individuals who genuinely lived through the experiences of those horrific times draws the reader into the events in a very personal way. You cannot help feeling anger at times, as well as pain and heartbreak for the loss these individuals suffered, but much to my surprise, these are not tales of despondency but stories of the triumph of goodness over evil. Ultimately, these survivor stories inspire and offer us hope for the future.
Review copy provided at no cost.