Milton Meltzer Anita Silvey - Essay

Anita Silvey

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Holocaust is a difficult subject to present to children; for although the tendency to protect young readers from harsh reality has been somewhat abandoned in the last decade, an author could scarcely enjoy describing barbarity and cruelty to young people. Yet the understandable impulse to soften the impact and horror of such events would be intolerable in discussing the Third Reich's extermination of the Jews. Facing this difficult problem, the author [of Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust] has managed to present a powerful and overwhelming picture of the Final Solution. By carefully choosing eyewitness accounts, by excellent use of sources such as Raul Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews …, he has managed to convey the tragic slaughter of the Jewish people—in pogroms, in ghettoes, in work camps, and finally in death camps. Given the complexity of the subject, it is not surprising that the book's presentation is flawed. There are statements one would have to question, such as "Germany is the country where modern anti-Semitism of the racist kind began"; the tone sometimes gets a bit overemotional; and a subtle but consistent anti-German prejudice pervades the writing. But few writers of history for children could record such an unflinching and impassioned account of the grimmest chapter in human history.

Anita Silvey, in her review of "Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust," in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1976 by the Horn Book, Inc., Boston), Vol. LII, No. 3, June, 1976, p. 298.