Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich (translated by Richard Pevear and Lariss Volokhonsky) is a collection of short memoirs told by people who were children during World War II. Ms. Alexievich is a Noble Prize winning author and journalist.
- 320 pages
- Publisher: Random House
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399588752
I always found it fascinating to learn what children remember. Something which you or I won’t give a second thought to, could be a lifetime memory for someone else – hopefully not a traumatic one.
But one never knows.
Keeping that in mind, Last Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II by Svetlana Alexievich (translated by Richard Pevear and Lariss Volokhonsky) is an interesting, sometime horrifying, collection of very short stories told by people about their childhood during World War II, or as it’s called in Russia The Great Patriotic War. Some children remember the horrors they witnessed, other remember smells or the day the war started.
The war, in which the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, lasted 4 years and cost approximately 27 million Soviet lives. It was a ruthless time, brutality and hunger were everywhere and one never knew who might survive to the see the next day.
The stories the author collected shattered many lives, not the least the childhood of the person telling. Several of them never recovered after their childhood ended abruptly, no matter what age they were.
The collection consists of many stories from all different parts of the Soviet Union, the front lines, those who were partisans, the ones who were under siege in Leningrad with nothing to eat, and even children sent as slaves to Germany. Many of the stories center around the separation of the children from their parents, whether they were fighting, murdered by the Nazis, or separated due to the realities of war.
For many of the story-tellers these events were difficult to verbalize, even though many decades have passed. This book, even though difficult to read, is an important reminder that we must not forget the past, and that war exacts a heavy toll from everyone in its path – no matter the age, race, or religion.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
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