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This is the story of a young boy’s journey from a sleepy provincial town in Hungary through war-torn Europe to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. Accompanied by his parents, he was cruelly uprooted from the cocoon of a secure and happy family home. After a winter in Bergen-Belsen where his father died, he and his mother were liberated by the Americans outside a small German village, and handed over to the Red Army. They escaped from the Russians, and travelled, hiding on a goods train, through Prague to Budapest. The family home was deserted and many relatives and friends of his previous life had disappeared. Normal life, briefly restored, was shattered by the Communist dictatorship in 1949.
Unlike other books dealing with the same period, this is not a Holocaust story, but the recollections of a child of an extraordinary journey full of surprise, excitement, bereavement and terror. Yet, this is a testimony of survival, overcoming obstacles which to adults may seem insurmountable, but to a child was just part of an adventure. After having retired, the author set out to revisit the stages on his earlier journey, reliving the past through the perspective of the present. Along the way ghosts from the past have been laid to rest by the kindness of new friends.
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- “Something of a genius…with the readability of a classic.” Alan Sillitoe
- “A remarkable addition to the literature of the Holocaust.” The Sunday Times
- “I have read few autobiographies more extraordinary…astonishing.” The Observer
- “Deeply moving.” The Age (Melbourne)
- “This wonderful memoir…introduces a narrator with rare gifts.” The Tablet (London)
- “Movingly narrated memoir.” The Independent
- “A classic. I preferred it to Primo Levi’s If This is a Man. One of the things I found appealing was his restraint and reserve.” Edward Wilson
- “We can now celebrate Peter Lantos’s book which accomplishes something rare: an emotionally moving and, at the same time, clinically precise account.” NU, Vienna