Perhaps there is no simple, easy way to educate children about the Holocaust. Yet a new extraordinary work in the form of a nonfiction graphic novel for children is a valiant attempt to do just that.

Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children (Sourcebooks) tells the true stories of six Jewish children and young people who survived the Holocaust. From suffering the horrors of Auschwitz, to hiding from Nazi soldiers in war-torn Paris, to sheltering from the Blitz in England, each true story is a powerful testament to the survivors’ courage. These testimonials, from people still living today, in Leeds, England, serve as a reminder never to allow such a tragedy to happen again.

Geared to children 10 years old and up, the book is based on the British Academy of Film and Television Arts-nominated animated documentaries, “Children of the Holocaust.” The artwork has been reinvented in this unique children’s graphic novel, which aims to bring the survivors’ stories to a new audience. The book was first published in the United Kingdom and just now is being released in the U.S.

The book is edited by Kath Shackleton, producer and creator of “Children of the Holocaust,” and illustrated by Zane Whittingham, an animator for 26 years.

Says Lilian Black, Chair, Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association, in the book’s foreword, “Each story you will read in this book is a true account of what happened to six young people over seventy years ago. Heinz, Trude, Ruth, Martin, Suzanne and Arek lived at home with their families. They went to school, enjoyed friendships, had hobbies and hopes for the future. Then one day their lives changed forever. They had done nothing wrong. They were born into Jewish families, and they were persecuted for this reason alone.”

She adds, “It is not easy for them to tell their stories. They agreed because they want people to know what can happen when people are subjected to discrimination and persecution for being seen as ‘different.’” Their dearest wish is that no one should suffer as they did.”

The graphic novel format does little to make these tales more reader-friendly. These are difficult narratives, and the six survivors have done a great service to share their stories and provide great lessons for our youth, at a cost of great personal emotion and grief.

“In 1938, when I was 8 years old…early in the morning, we were all sleeping in our beds. The Nazis entered our flat. We were going to be taken away,” recalls one of the survivors, Martin Kapel.

Says another, Heinz Skyte, “We were no longer allowed to go to the cinemas and theatres and be members of clubs. As a child, of any age, to be excluded from your peers is a blow. You feel inferior. And you question your existence.”

“I was fourteen. In the wagon was only a very small window. It was hot. We were so cramped, we couldn’t even sit down. Some people had water and some didn’t,” remembers Arek Hersh.

Of the survivors, Black says, “They have made new lives and new families, but they never forget the past. They know they are the lucky ones who escaped…but they never forget those who did not.”

Survivors of the Holocaust will be available October 1.

 

About the Authors

Kath Shackleton is the producer and creator of “Children of the Holocaust,” produced by the animation studio Fettle Animation. Zane Whittingham has been an animator for 26 years, working across film, TV and online, and is Animation Director for Fettle Animation.