Back in February, I reviewed A detail of History by holocaust survivor Arek Hersh. He was one of three hundred children brought to the Lake District to recover after the war, they became known as the Windermere Children.
Today I’m reviewing After the War by Tom Palmer. It’s a book for children that’s inspired by that story.
How do you explain to children, the horrors of the holocaust in a way that they can understand and that isn’t going to terrify them?
I would have no idea where to start but Tom Palmer achieves that with this wonderful book.
It centres on Yossi, Leo and Mordecai – three composite characters – their experiences are all based on the real-life experiences of the children brought to Windermere, or Wondermere as they nicknamed it.
The book carefully and sensitively depicts their new life in the Lake District, while exploring the horrific memories that the boys are coming to terms with. They met in Auschwitz and have come to depend and love each other. They’re bonded by loss and hope for a new life, a safe life.
Yossi in particular struggles to come to terms what he’s been through, it’s his flashbacks the reader sees, taking us through the invasion of Poland, the Ghetto, arriving at Auschwitz and the death marches.
Despite being about the Holocaust, it’s a book that’s accessible to children, it teaches them about the atrocities, gives them a deeper understanding of the world and teaches them the importance of kindness. Early drafts were given to Year 5 children, they were left with a desire to want to know more, they wanted to understand.
It’s very carefully researched, with Tom having spent a lot of time at the Calgarth Estate where the boys lived, he’s spent hours interviewing the Windermere children and people who remembered them arriving in Windermere.
This year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, many of the survivors speak to ensure it is never forgotten and that lessons are learnt so it can’t happen again. It something that children need to be able to understand. ‘After the War’, shows that even when you’ve been through the darkest of days, there’s always hope. When you’ve survived the very worst of human nature there are always good people.
I’ve enjoyed finding out about the experiences of some of the Windermere children this year and reading further into the story. It’s a story, children will love and learn from. It’s an ideal introduction to the Holocaust, a moving and vital part of history.
It’s a piece of our history that we should be proud of and I’m thrilled it’s getting more attention, it shows that we have history of helping others in the world, of welcoming refugees and we probably need to remember that more now than ever before.
I’ll be posting an interview with the author Tom Palmer tomorrow but in the meantime if you want to find out more about After the War visit his website https://tompalmer.co.uk/about-tom/
Alongside the Lake District Holocaust Museum. http://ldhp.org.uk
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm