A classic older children's book
, written by Ian Serraillier
, and published in 1956. It tells of the adventures of three children who are siblings, Ruth
, and Bronia
, and a fourth child Jan
who joins them in their adventure
The setting is Warsaw then all across war-torn Europe during the Second World War. The children's family is separated, their father is sent to a labour camp, and the children are left to fend for themselves. The eldest, Ruth, takes on a kind of motherly charge of them, though she is only about 13. They decide they need to leave Poland and make their way to Switzerland to get out of the war. They make their way through dangerous journeys by train (a detail that has always impressed itself upon me in a terrifying way), and avoiding searches.
Meanwhile, their father has returned and is looking for them in the ruins. He meets a street child, Jan, and gives him a paper-knife in the form of a silver sword, and this proves to be a talisman for him. Amid much hardship, and searches and discoveries by the Nazis, they do in the end succeed.
This book is for intelligent, older children. It is rough, it is powerful, but it is not about the full tragedy of the Holocaust: rather it is about the chaos that most people lived in during the War, so many homeless, on the move, never knowing what would happen next. It has stayed with me vividly ever since I first read it, and is one of the classic children's adventure stories, always mentioned with great respect.
althorrat tells me this book has also been published in recent years under the title Escape from Warsaw.