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The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia (1968)

de Esther Hautzig

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During World War II, when she was eleven years old, the author and her family were arrested in Poland by the Russians as political enemies and exiled to Siberia. She recounts here the trials of the following five years spent on the harsh Asian steppe.
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This story is very much a child's impression. Her parents and grandmother hid much from her (which she does recognize as an adult)--the hunger, cold, school, moving, close quarters, outgrown shoes--are all just part of this weird normal for Esther, exiled with her family in Siberia during WW2. I can only imagine what the physically demanding jobs, cold, hunger, need for better housing, and their daughter and mother suffering did to their thoughts. As well as worry about the family members left in Vilna.

When Russia sends the family back to Poland after the war, they learn that they--who endured 4 years exiled as Jewish capitalists--are some of the few Polish Jews who survived. Her aunts, uncles, cousins, maternal grandmother--all were killed during the war. She does not specify if they were sent to concentration camps, starved in ghettos, were killed in attacks--but she probably never knew. And this is YA/middle grade, so such details might have been glossed over intentionally. ( )
  Dreesie | May 7, 2022 |
This is a fairly easy read aimed at middle schoolers. I didn't find it to be overly graphic, and I think most younger readers could handle it. After having read so many brutal accounts of life under Communism, myself, this one actually seemed a bit tame. However, the author captures the voice of a young girl perfectly, and I came to care about her and her family as they faced treacherous circumstances living in Siberia for the unpardonable crime of practicing capitalism. ( )
  MadMaudie | Sep 5, 2020 |
The many different worlds that exist on this earth are incredible. The mechanical terror of war and empire is stunningly told through the memoirs of a young girl's irregular life. ( )
  mitchtroutman | Jun 14, 2020 |
This memoir of a Polish girl and her family in exile in Siberia during WWII is a well-told reminder of the horrors visited upon the Jews who didn't experience Nazi concentration camps. Along with the narrator, we witness the deprivation, the cold, & the humiliation of a family who struggle and survive.
( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Hautzig, Estherautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Bohlmeijer, Arnoautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bresnahan, AlyssaNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Montagne-Andres, L.autor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Podevin, Jean-FrançoisAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pollay, Ulrike A.Übersetzerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Post, Manceautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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This story would not have been told without the help of many, many people. It is gratefully dedicated to all of them.
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The morning it happened - the end of my lovely world - I did not water the lilac bush outside my father's study.
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Those of us who were lucky enough to have had a slice of that watermelon that night - like me - must count it the most delectable food ever eaten anyplace by anyone.
I bent my head closer to the vines; I didn't want to see the dunce. But as a member of the collective dunce, I too called out, "No, no." We were not humanitarians; we were just hungry children who didn't want to starve, and I think it likely that collectively we had it in us to stone the next child who pulled a potato.
Later, I would occasionally watch my mother work with the jack hammer, but the woman whose guts seemed about to be shaken out of her, whose face was contorted to ugliness, would seem a stranger.
Hadn't I learned by now that it was not all that easy to die?
The flatness of this land was awesome. There wasn’t a hill in sight; it was an enormous, unrippled sea of parched and lifeless grass. “Tata, why is the earth so flat here?” “These must be steppes, Esther.” “Steppes? But steppes are in Siberia.” “This is Siberia,” he said quietly.
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During World War II, when she was eleven years old, the author and her family were arrested in Poland by the Russians as political enemies and exiled to Siberia. She recounts here the trials of the following five years spent on the harsh Asian steppe.

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