This is the story of Yonah Steiner. It is the story of his survival against all odds. It is the story of his reconciliation with the only uncle who remains alive because he was in America during the time of Hitler’s rise to power. It is the story of his finding a family to which he could, once again, belong.
This is the story of a young boy who was robbed of his childhood and in essence his life. It is the story of a child who lost all connection to the world through his family because his family was annihilated, not because they were evil but because they were Jews. There are no records of them; only one photo remains. By some miracle, he was the only survivor to make it to Palestine. It is the story of millions of Jews touched by the Holocaust.
When he was just 13, on his way to school, he was kidnapped by the Germans and sent to a work camp. Thus begins the nightmare of his life in Concentration Camps, watching people ruthlessly murdered and beaten, brutalized and humiliated, living in inhuman conditions and being worked like an animal. He himself experienced merciless beatings and lived through horrible hardship. Although I have read many Holocaust fiction and non-fiction books, I was amazed to learn of even more brutal methods used by the Nazis that I had not learned of before. I was amazed to learn about the heartlessness of his neighbors and the cruelty of those he sought solace from when he was starving and cold. Man’s inhumanity toward man, was never more evidenced than during those years of German nationalism run amok. Reading these books, one realizes that despite the cries of innocence and ignorance, the Germans and the Poles and the Austrians, etc., all knew what was going on because the entrepreneurs who aided in the war effort employed emaciated, underdressed, ragged, overworked prisoners who regularly disappeared and their wasting away could not have gone unnoticed. Employed is an oxymoron when it is used in this case, since no salaries were earned and barely enough food to survive was provided.
The courage and strength required to survive and then continue living a new life, is a major feat of the human spirit. Scores of his relatives died, and actually, only he and his brother, of those who were in Poland, actually lived, although he never saw him again, once he left Europe and his brother remained behind. All of his aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family were murdered in cold blood, wiped from the pages of history.
When one witnesses the turmoil existing in the world today, one can’t help wanting to yell, “Stop the world, I want to get off!” Can this happen again? With the current state of affairs in the Middle East, sadly being encouraged by our President, (who seems to think that demonstrations and complaints against the government should be acknowledged and should bring about change, as long as it isn’t in his own country, where demonstrations opposing his policies have been labeled racist rather than legitimate), one has to wonder, where will all this anger and displeasure lead? To the rioters and demonstrators, it begins as fun. It soon deteriorates into another reality. Who or what group will step in to take over the leadership reins from these overthrown rulers. Will the world be a better place or will we descend into a time of chaos and perhaps another war to end all wars?