The novel set in the Warsaw ghetto has a verisimilitude
The Warsaw orphan by Kelly Rimmer; 2021, Graydon House; ISBN 9781525-895999; 394 pages, $ 17.99.
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – Normally I am a little wary of Holocaust fiction because I fear it will make deniers say, “You see, it’s all made up. But whether someone writes a rigorously graded novel or story, that will be what the deniers say; it does not matter that the novel is clearly identified as a work of fiction as elsewhere The Warsaw orphan is therefore billed.
We have come to a point, I suppose, where historical fiction built around the Holocaust should be evaluated in the same way that stories of a similar genre set in the French, American or Russian revolutions should be judged: is it a good story? Did that interest you? Were the characters believable? Have you learned any lessons from history?
To these four questions, I should answer yes in the case of The Warsaw orphan. It’s a love story that brings together Emilia, a Christian teenager and orphan, whose family members were killed by the Nazis for trying to help a Jewish family, and Roman, a slightly older Jewish boy. , whose family was forced to live and suffer. in the Warsaw ghetto.
The two met after Emilia agreed to work with Sara, a nurse whose humanitarianism was so unknown to the Nazis that she had almost unlimited access to the ghetto to examine Jews for typhus. Secretly, she did what she could to get the children out of the ghetto to safety.
The story is told in alternating voices, one or two chapters “narrated” by Roman, followed by one or two chapters “narrated” by Emilia. We learned long before them that both are idealists, well suited to each other.
Their love grows amid the trials, deaths and destruction of the Nazi genocidal war against the Jews. They not only have a common cause, but they have also suffered similar family tragedies, and in moments of fleeting calm there is also a romantic, but chaste, attraction to each other.
The story builds on the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto and chronicles another general uprising later in the war by the non-Jewish population of Warsaw. We see the determination of the two young people to protect their family (that of Emilia by adoption) and to fight back against the Nazis, as dangerous as that may be. Things take a dramatic turn after the army of the Soviet Union pushed the Germans back from Warsaw and subsequently occupied the Polish capital.
This novel will captivate audiences ranging from young adults to their very old counterparts.
Donald H. Harrison is Editor-in-Chief of Jewish world of San Diego. He can be contacted via [email protected]