5 Stars for The Childern’s Train from Reviewer Peggy Geiger

Excerpt from the book:

“Peter Weinberg, with the gray, piercing eyes, was eleven when he had to face the truth that the world was filled with evil, and there was nothing he could do about it. The Nazi monster, Adolph Hitler, had risen to power in Germany, and he didn’t like Jews, not even the small ones.”

The Nazi regime began closing in on the Jewish world slowly at first. They were no longer allowed in the parks, then they were banned from the swimming pools. Their safe, secure world began to turn upside down. Signs in retail stores said, “Do Not Sell Anything to Jews”. By measured, deliberate increments, the violence and exclusion continued. 

Peter’s father was a WW I decorated hero. He had fought alongside Hitler and his Nazi thugs as patriots, brothers in arms, only a few years before. Peter cannot understand why he is now considered less than human and hated, just for being Jewish. 

The confusion over the concept of hatred turns to dread. Synagogues and books are burned. Leaving Germany now requires permission, paperwork and money. Any control over their lives begins to slip away along with all human rights. Children are called “rats” as they are rudely escorted out of school and told not to come back. 

The Night of the Broken Glass destroys shops, businesses and the means of making a living. The targeting escalates. Homes are destroyed or commandeered by non-Jewish Germans. 

Being Jewish is now approximates a death sentence. Devastation morphs into unspeakable, unrelenting horror. Jews are beaten, arrested and killed. Or they just disappear in the night. Unknown to the Jewish population, it has only just begun.

I have read many stories about WW II, however, I had never heard of The Children’s Train or Kindertransport. After The Night of Broken Glass, England organized a a program offering safe haven to Jewish children up to the age of 17. The children traveled by train to Holland and were then ferried to England. Ten thousand children were saved. Kindertransport continued until Holland was invaded and Germany closed its border.

This is a story of the parental heartbreak of sending terrified children away to save them and also the story of the children who did not get a seat on a train. The concentration camps received the children who missed the train.

Peter was eleven, his sister Becca was six, when they arrived in England. Their father was dead by this time and their mother could not bear to part with baby Lily. She kept Lily with her in Germany. All was not good for the children who survived the Nazi reign of terror. After arriving in England, Peter and Becca were separated. Peter was selected by a cruel farmer and his wife as a free farmhand. He was worked to the point of exhaustion daily. Becca was selected by a family that treated her well.

Most of the rescued children never saw their parents again and were subjected to the numerous Blitz bombings in England.

The story follows Peter as he eventually joins the Jewish resistance to wreak havoc with the Nazi war effort. 

I highly recommend this novel, it should be required reading for middle and high school students so this history can never be repeated. 
Review by Peggy Geiger

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