The Boys, Triumph Over Adversity

The Boys, Triumph Over AdversityFewer Than , Jews Survived The Death Camps This Is The Story Of Of Those Jews All Under The Age Of Sixteen In It Is The Story Of What They Lost, Of What They, As Children, Suffered, And, Most Of All, Of What They Overcame Robbed Of Their Childhoods, Orphaned By Violence And Bestiality, They Ought To Have Become Sociopaths Instead, They Rebuilt Their Lives And Dedicated Them To The Memory Of Those Who Were Not As Lucky Told In Their Voices, The Boys Bears Witness To The Power Of The Human Spirit

The official biographer of Winston Churchill and a leading historian on the Twentieth Century, Sir Martin Gilbert was a scholar and an historian who, though his 88 books, has shown there is such a thing as true history Born in London in 1936, Martin Gilbert was educated at Highgate School, and Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating with First Class Honours He was a Research Scholar at St Anthony s

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  • Paperback
  • 528 pages
  • The Boys, Triumph Over Adversity
  • Martin Gilbert
  • English
  • 13 April 2018
  • 9780805044034

10 thoughts on “The Boys, Triumph Over Adversity

  1. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  2. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  3. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  4. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  5. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  6. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  7. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  8. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  9. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

  10. says:

    A few weeks ago in early February 2015 , I was idly reading the obituary pages of The Globe and Mail newspaper The back page of the obits is saved for people who achieved some fame in their lives, and that week I was struck by the headline Martin Gilbert, Churchill s Official Biographer, Dies at Age 79. I grew up in a British family, my parents, uncles and aunts were all involved in the Second World War in England in some way, even as young teenagers As a result, I ve always been fairly informed about WWII and a fan of Churchill So I read on, to discover that Martin Gilbert had written 84 books on the Second World War, the Holocaust, Jewish history and much, much He was considered one of the world s leading historians of the last century, he spent part of his childhood in Toronto to escape war torn Europe, and I had never heard of him So, that day I ordered a few of his books from the library, and I have just now finished The Boys It took me three weeks to read, not because I m a slow reader, but because I had to take the book in small chunks It is the single most difficult book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT I had to keep putting it down to absorb what I d just read.In first person accounts, the book tells the Holocaust survival story of 732 Jewish children, all of them orphaned mostly at the gates of Auschwitz, Chelmno and Treblinka or in the concentration camps The children survived the war, and after liberation in 1945 were selected to fly to England for a slow journey back to health and social integration Their amazing survival is due to luck, stamina, bravery, youth and something else, let s say the whim of fate Fifty years later as adult survivors, through letters and private testimonials, each of them describe how they survived the ghettos, concentration camps, forced slavery, starvation, beatings, terror and the final atrocity of the death marches of Nazi Germany Martin Gilbert solicited these letters from the 732, and carefully parses them to recreate a slow unfolding of the Holocaust from a child s perspective.Most of the children were between 12 and 18 at the end of war, since younger children were almost universally murdered along with their mothers one nurse in England at the end of the book poignantly says that they were expecting small children at the rehabilitation centre in Southhampton and so had purchased teddy bears for them, but no small children arrived because they had all been murdered Most of the survivors are boys hence the title , since the girl survivors, like the small children, were pitifully few in number Except in a very few places where Mr Gilbert provides context, the book marches along, with page after page of first person testimonial accounts of survival Some of the facts I already knew, but because the book is over 400 pages long, in reading it one begins to grasp the enormity and relentless nature of the horror, the grinding truth of the Nazi s attempt to exterminate a race of people The children s stories all become a testament as they reinforce each other, again and again and again, the details of each moment of suffering building to a final very clear picture By the end, you get a glimpse of the day to day reality of slave life in Nazi Germany.Gilbert points out at the beginning of the book that in every single case without exception, each survivor had at least one miraculous event occur that helped to save them, but most had a series of miracles A few examples one survivor stepped out of a church to collect water at the very moment that all the people inside were mowed down by machine gun fire ghetto story Several told of being lined up against a wall to be shot, and were only saved because the German soldier s gun jammed Others miraculously found food however rotten or degraded at the brink of death, or snuck from a line meant for extermination into a different line for the living when the German guards weren t looking And on and on It became clear to me that children who survived were not the shy, retiring type they fought for food along with the adults, or survived beatings just like the adults, or somehow made the very adult and conscious decision not to lose the will to live For that, you had to be strong, smart, assertive and brave.Along with miracles, every child survivor in the book perfectly described the final moment of seeing their loved ones, as they went one way in line to death at Auschwitz, or were shot, or dragged away or driven off in a truck That moment of separation was described in detail again and again I ll leave you with this poignant moment Ben Helfgott was 15 in the final weeks of the war Standing in his prisoner s rags in a freezing, open air train car shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other boys, his train shunted under a bridge and stopped Seconds later an American bomber flew low overhead for a bombing run, then pulled up at the moment that the pilot saw the train below the bridge was full of children The Nazis used the children as human shields The US pilot didn t bomb the bridge and Ben survived.My son just turned 17, and so I had him in mind at every turn, which made the book even harder for me to read would my boy have survived Not one of the 732 survivors had a living mother at the end of the war, by the way, although a few did find some surviving relatives after the dust settled later in the 1940s.A gut wrenching read, I m glad I did make it to the end of this book It s not brilliantly written although it is well organized , but it is startling and honest If you are interested in history, in the Holocaust, and in learning first hand how a handful of children truly beat the odds and won out over unimaginable cruelty, add it to your must read list and be prepared to read it slowly Also, as an interesting companion piece, consider reading Elie Weisel s Nobel Prize winning memoir Night, a very short book which describes his Holocaust survival story as a 16 year old.Also, here is my review of Martin Gilbert s, The Righteous, accounts of the everyday Europeans who hid, and saved people from the Holocaust

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