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I became interested in learning more about the Warsaw Ghetto after reading Leon Uris’s book “Milo 18”. Mazzeo’s book is non-fiction and is fascinating.
This is a story of World War II, the Warsaw ghetto and the Holocaust. Mazzeo tells the story of the life of Irena Sendlerowa (Sender). The author covers her story from childhood to death but most of the story covers the war years.
In 1939 Irena Sender is a social worker in Warsaw. As the Germans take control they deprive the Polish Jews of everything and then confine 400,000 of them to one area of Warsaw. The Jews are slowly being sent to Treblinka and Auschwitz. Irena, as a social worker, has a pass that allows her to go most anywhere including in and out of the ghetto. She begins smuggling out children with the help of her fellow social workers, medical personnel and the resistance. Many where placed in homes of the Catholic Poles and raised as their own children. She kept a list of the placements in hopes of reuniting families at the end of the war, not realizing most families would perish in the camps. Irena is captured and tortured but never gives away her secrets.
The book is well written and impeccably researched. The author combed through archives and interviews survivors. The story was lost during the Soviet occupation of Poland after the German’s withdrew near the end of WWII. This occupation by the Soviets only created more difficulties in researching the story. Mazzeo tells a magnificent story of courage, resilience and heroism. If you are interested in WWII, you will learn more from this story. I was most impressed by this magnificent story.
Amanda Carlin does a good job narrating the story. Carlin is a stage, film and television actress. She also narrates audiobooks.
29 of 30 people found this review helpful
It took me three starts to get hooked into this non-fiction accounting of Irena Sendler's rescue of over 2,500 Jewish children in Warsaw during the Holocaust. Unlike "Schindler's List" which hooks you at the slippery doorstep and continues polished to the end... there is a roughness around the edges of this book and the writing isn't perfect throughout. But the story...
Do not stop reading... you will note that despite this initial failure to get me hooked, I rank this book a full 5 stars and I was hooked. Getting to see Irena's pluck and courage... the actual story of what was accomplished by her gutsy young friends... makes it a 5 star read. More than any Holocaust book I have read, "Irena's Children" took me inside the Warsaw ghetto and the safe homes on the streets outside and helped me to understand their complexities. No book on this topic is an easy read emotionally, but I did come away uplifted in a way. The difference one determined person can make... can change the world.
25 of 26 people found this review helpful