About a month ago, Israel had it’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day. At the sound of air-raid sirens, everything came to a standstill (even cars!) to observe two minutes of silence.
And while things like the Holocaust aren’t pleasant to think about, it’s important that we remember them anyway. And one way to do that is by reading books about the subject (both fiction and non-fiction). It’s so inspiring to read of people’s faith in God and God’s faithfulness amidst such horrors. I think it also makes us question what we would do if we ever find ourselves in similar circumstances.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.Hebrews 13:5-6
Recently, we bought a book called Within These Walls for my mum’s birthday. After reading it, Mum decided it was such a good book that she read it aloud to me and my siblings as well. Within These Walls is the story of a young Jewish girl and her family who lived in Warsaw during WWII. While it is about fictional characters, the author wove many things that actually happened in people’s lives into these fictional “lives”.
And I certainly agree with Mum that it was a really good book! 🙂 It’s written with children 12 and up in mind, so it’s an “easy” read, but definitely not your feel good kind of book! The treatment of the Jews, even outside of the concentration camps was simply barbaric. Within These Walls really captures so many different aspects of life during the Holocaust for Jews living inside ghettos in constant fear and deprivation.
Here’s the backcover blurb:
Whatever is coming, we’ll face it together, as a family. As long as we’re together, we’ll be okay.
For Miri and her family, life in Warsaw is full of simple joys. The smell of freshly baked challah, the promise of summer holidays, and Fridays when everyone comes together to celebrate the Sabbath. But when the Germans march into Warsaw with their campaign of hatred against the Jews, Miri and her family must move to the ghetto. One by one her family are taken from her, and Miri finds herself alone.
Based on true events, Within These Walls gives a realistic account of what it was like to be a Jewish child in Warsaw during the Holocaust.
Like I said, the author did such a great job of weaving factual events into a fictional story. And even though it is a sobering read, things are dealt with tactfully without fluffing over just how horrible things were.
And just as an interesting titbit, the author, Robyn Bavati, happens to be Australian (though she also lived in Israel for multiple years).
Reading a book written by an Australian author is a bit of a novelty to me (shocking I know 😛 ). And because it’s an Australian book, it has single quotation marks instead of double. Even as an Aussie myself, that just looks weird. I much prefer double quotation marks! Which is probably because I read books that are predominately published in America. 😀 Anyway . . .
In the author notes at the back of the book, Robyn Bavati says, “My goal was to capture not just the well-documented, large-scale historical events that affected the Jews of Warsaw, but the minutiae of the victims’ lives.”
And she certainly accomplished just that! After reading this book, you’ll have a vivid picture of what life is like when everybody wants you dead.
The author also stated that to ensure the book stayed as realistic as possible, she wouldn’t include anything that didn’t actually happen. “While I invented the character of Miri, I did not invent anything she did, saw, felt, or witnessed.” It was so interesting to read Robyn Bavati’s notes and to discover just how many things in the story had actually come from a real event.
Even if you don’t read the book, let’s not forget one important truth: The Jewish people have a special place in God’s heart, and they should therefore have a special place in ours. 🙂