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An End to Childhood

Yurik, seventeen years old, was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Cracow. His father is a timber merchant and the family lives very comfortably in a large house. When the Germans invade Poland in 1939, the family is dispossessed and they are forced to move to the ghetto. They huddle together in an apartment they share with three other families.

When the Aktions in the Cracow ghetto begin, their father buys false papers for Yurik and his sister Anya and sends them to Lvov. Yurik arrives first and begins establishing contacts with the Polish underground. It soon becomes evident that the two are not safe in Lvov because their papers are bad forgeries and they run the risk of being turned in at any moment. Also, they are not registered at the Labor Exchange and have difficulty finding work or suitable lodgings. Discovery is only a matter of time. Then Yurek falls into the hands of the Gestapo and is sent to jail. For a time he is lucky because he is attached to a group of workers doing hard labor outside of the jail, but after one of the prisoners escapes the entire group expects to die. Yurik manages to escape to the alleys of the ghetto, and at this point, as he stands between life and death, the story ends.

This true story is a work of art – complex, touching and riveting. It is told by Yurik, the author’s brother, who did not survive the Holocaust, hence the open ending.

Dutch, English, German, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Swedish
Title An End to Childhood
Genre Children
Publisher (Hebrew) Tamuz
No. Pages 127pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Neurim Be-Shalechet