Discussing the holocaust with children is a daunting but necessary task and one where books are a great support. Michael Rosen’s new book, The Missing: The True Story of My Family in World War Two, published by Walker Books, is the result of Rosen’s research into the members of his family who disappeared during the war. His grandfather’s three sisters and three brothers: Stella, Bella, Genia, Willi, Oscar and Martin.
Aimed at readers aged 10 to adult, The Missing follows Rosen’s journey as he pieces together the lives of his relatives. The book begins with some fascinating memories of his childhood in post war London and the ordinary but captivating tales of visiting his grandparents before detailing the family members who had stayed in mainland Europe and the beginning of his search for them.
As a child, he was aware of these relatives existence prior to the war but any questions he asked regarding what happened to them went unanswered; the family simply didn’t know. Rosen points out that the Nazis plan wasn’t only to kill all the Jews but to completely eradicate their cultural stamp on Europe. Part of the reason for his research and the writing of this book was to ensure the memory of his family were not erased and the Nazis plan did not succeed.
Piecing together the fate of his great aunts and uncles is heartbreaking as the inevitable horror of what happened to them unfolds and the desperate attempts they made to escape. In between the chapters of prose are some of Rosen’s poems, powerful and incredibly moving. Ranging from observations of family life to imagining the experience of war and refugees, Dear Oscar being one of the most haunting as he addresses his great uncle personally during the last journey Oscar and his wife Rachel made; in a cattle truck on the way to Auschwitz.
As the years since the Holocaust lengthen and the number of survivors become fewer, it becomes even more important to continue to talk about it. We always talk about it and say “never forget” so we can ensure nothing like this ever happens again. This book not only helps us to remember, it is also a timely reminder of how it happened. The Holocaust didn’t just begin one day, it was the culmination of years of propoganda against Jews in Germany, years of planting those seeds in the minds of the general public that their problems were the fault of the Jews, that immigrants and refugees were a threat, stealing away their culture and the constant use of language to dehumanise them. Does this sound familiar?
The aim of this book is two-fold; honouring and remembering the people killed at the hands of the Nazis but also educating about the dangers of low level hatred and discrimination. As Michael Rosen writes “I hope this book becomes part of a bigger conversation about the refugee crisis. About how to find fair and decent ways of helping people like my relatives.”
If you are looking for further reading there is an extensive bibliography at the end of this book featuring fiction and non fiction titles about the Holocaust, World War Two and refugees.
Buy The Missing from Wordery with free delivery.
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