Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Remember WWII: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories

Remember WWII: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories

Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
National Geographic, 2005   ISBN: 978-0792271796

This is the story of WWII with a difference, for in addition to an account of the conflict from its initial rumblings in the early 1930's to its final climactic end in 1945, there are the stories of many children who witnessed the war and whose lives were completely turned upside down by it. From different backgrounds and of all ages these children came from Germany, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, the Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, various mainland states in America.

Thus, as we follow the story of the war, we are also able to follow the stories of these children, many of whom lost family members, their homes, their countries, and everything that was familiar to them.

In May of 1940 Solange Berger's family lived in Belgium and when they heard that Hitler's army was in its way they buried their valuables in their garden - including Solange's doll - and they fled their village on their bicycles seeking refuge in France. They soon discovered that France was already full of German soldiers so they decided to go back to their village. There they found that their house was occupied by two German officers and they had to share their house with these two men for the rest of the war.

Another child, Hedi Wachenheimer had been sent out of Germany in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport and she was now living in England. Lonely and missing her family, Hedi was trying to get used to the English language and English ways. She also had to adjust to London during wartime and the incessant air raids. Hedi heard from her parents only occasionally because the Germans had imprisoned them. Her last word from her mother arrived in 1942. Soon after both her parents were deported to a death camp.

Superbly written and presented, this book tells the story of WWII in a very personal way, through the words and experiences of children. Readers are therefore able to see what the war was like through their eyes, through the eyes of a Japanese child, a German-Jewish child, a German child who was part of the Hitler Youth program, a German girl who had to work to help feed Germany at war, a Czech-Jewish girl in a concentration camp, an American-born boy of Japanese descent living on Hawaii, and so on. One gets to see things from many points of view and it makes the war seem more real and more tangible. The Book is divided into three main sections and readers will explore the WWII experience in Europe, in the Pacific, and in Home Front America.

At the back of the book readers will find a very useful World War II Time Line which will help them get an excellent overview of all the WWII events mentioned in the book.