The Final Journey|
by Gudrun Pausewang (Author), Patricia Crampton (Translator)
From Publishers Weekly
This German import imagines an 11-year-old Jewish girl's experience on a train
bound for Auschwitz. Ages 12-up.
Gr. 8 -12. What was it like in the railway cattle cars bound for Auschwitz? This
novel, first published in Germany in 1992, tells it from the viewpoint of an
11-year-old Jewish girl. Alice Dubsky has spent two years in hiding in a
basement, protected from the knowledge of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Now
suddenly, crammed with nearly 50 people in the hot, stinking darkness of the
train car, she faces the fact that they are prisoners being taken to a camp.
That must be why her parents disappeared months before. She sees her grandfather
die and witnesses the miracle of a baby born in the excrement, even as she
learns for the first time from a young woman how babies are made. People cling
to their possessions. Some share and help one another. Someone else dies. The
train stops at sidings; people outside hear the cries and do nothing.
Do we need another book about the Holocaust? Yes, if it is as good as this one.
This is not a book for children, but teens and adults will find it compelling
reading, an extension of the autobiographical journeys of Primo Levi's Survival
in Auschwitz (1959) and Isabella Leitner's The Big Lie (1992). Crampton's
translation is restrained; the dialogue rings true; the details are authentic.
There is no exploitation; in fact, there is almost no direct violence. The end
is quiet and devastating. They get there. The Auschwitz commander sends some to
the right; Alice goes to the left, together with the other children, the old,
the disabled, and the newborn baby. They strip for the "showers."
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Puffin (December 1, 1998)