Polish/Soviet Boys' Clothes: Along the Files

Figure 1.--
Along the Tracks

Tamar Bergman, the author of The Boy from Over There (1988) bases this novel Along the Tracks about a Polish/Soviet boy during World War II on the actual real experiences of a Polish family that eventually managed to get to Palestine. The book is written in the third person from various points of view. The NAZIS invaded Poland in September 1939. The book describe Rosa and Yitzhak's daring flight from Lodz with their two children as the NAZIs seal off the ghetto. Almost all the residents were eventually killed by the NAZIs. The family finds a haven in the Soviet Crimea. Then the NAZIS invade Russia in June 1941. After desperate fighting they eventually take the Crimea. Yitzhak joins the Red Army while Rosa and the children again escape east. In the confusion of an air attack, Yankele, now 8 years old, falls off their train and is lost. During the next 4 years--as narrated by Yankele, now prudently known as the more mature Yasha--the boy survives by stealing food, making fleeting alliances with other orphaned or displaced boys, snuggling into the "Black Hotel'' (still-smoldering cinders piled by the railroads), and hopping trains whenever local merchants who have their goods stolen begin to recognize him. Improbably, the family is reunited at the war's end. Yankele's experiences transform him from a trusting, innocent 8-year-old into a wily, self-reliant urchin who maintains an inner core of goodness even though he finds it difficult, once it's no longer necessary, to break the habit of thieving. The book gives a view of the life of dispalced children in the East. Even if he had not been Jewish his chances of surviving were not good, being lost at such ba young age. Luckily he was just beyond the reach of the NAZIs. Many boys did not survive. An authentic picture is drawn of the life of places such as Tashkent and Samarkand during the war--a cruel world where the state effectively abandoned homeless children, but where some remnants of kindness and humanity survived. A gripping, evocative story.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: January 20, 2002
Last updated: January 20, 2002