My character is currently in the process of trying to avoid being taken away. His name is Leo. Right now he has just escaped Austria and is stowing away from the Germans
Clara Kramer, who lives in Russia, is currently at a point in time where she and her family are getting worried that they will come to get them and take them away. Starting in chapter 2, she starts to hide.
Leo arrived in Luxembourg only to be caught by "border patrol" officials. They sent him to France, where he had to turn around again. Leo ended up sneaking back into Luxembourg and is currently staying there with an aunt and uncle of his who are also staying.
I think that Clara and her family will never be caught, and that this will be a story told for those who were in hiding for the period of the war. But that's just my foreshadow
Correction: Clara actually lives in Poland, but she fears that the Russians will take her away. I'm going to keep reading to find out.
Leo is often in the same predicament. His home country is Austria, but he is often in fear that the French, Swiss, or the Luxembourgs will take him away.
Clara speaks about Russians hating Poland for not following their communist regime. She also speaks about past events, such as Italy and Japan joining the Axis powers, and what countries have been invaded. She said that all of this stuff happened in the past two years, along with her grandfathers disappearance, and the fact that some of their religious freedoms have already been taken away.
Has anything happened to Clara yet?
She is still in hiding, but everyday her worries start to intensify. She begins to mature and really get a grip on realizing what the outcome may be for her and her family
Leo also talks about Jewish treatment before Hitler, there already was some discrimination against Jewish people. There was a slight resentment towards them, and the rise of the Nazi party made it a lot worse.
From what I have read, no one has mentioned Hitler. Most of the book is basically Clara's imagination of her relatives and what she thought had happened to them. She also talks a lot about the death and betrayal of old friends which is really sad.
While Leo is safe, he hears word of his home country, Austria, is subjected to "Kristallnacht" which translates to "The Night of Broken Glass". Jewish people all around the area were subject to harsh treatment, and their homes, shops and belongings were destroyed.
In my book, Mr. Beck, the man who is the eyes and ears for the harbored Jews in the cellar, will tell them of the news of their family by sneaking to the ghettos and talking with Clara's relatives and by listening to a radio that is stored in their attic. Radios are now banned in all German controlled areas.
Has anything happened to Clara yet? Leo was placed in an internment camp (not controlled by the Nazis, the French) and a friend of his, Leon, helped him escape through a small hole in the wall
Right now, Clara is currently hiding in a cellar underneath the main bedroom. The house was owned the Melmans, who were Jews, but now the Beck's occupy their house, while Clara and her family, the Melmans, and two other families in a 4ft high dirt/brick cellar. Everyday they live in constant fear of the SS coming and taking them away.
Just now, a fire erupted on 20 houses in the town that Clara was residing in, one of which happened to be her own. With all of the commotion going on where they had to get to an emergency "tomb" to evade the nearby SS from spotting them, her sister had died. For the next few days none of them knew what had happened to her, but apparently the SS caught her and she told them that she was a maid working in the Beck's household, not giving any information to the whereabouts of her family, and she was shot anyway
So the rest of the family is safe, for now?
Yes, they are almost always on the verge of being caught, but I think they will pull through.
Did Clara leave any family behind in Poland? For example, extended family? Leo left behind his mom, and sister. His father also died in around 1938 trying to get to Palestine.
Actually, Clara never left Poland. But some of her relatives are in the ghettos. Everyday, Clara gets worried because Mr. Beck is having an affair with another jew living with them in the cellar. Mrs. Beck eventually caught him threatening to turn in the jews.
Leo also had moments like these. They weren't usually the people taking care of/watching them, but there were some people who didn't help the Jews simply because they were afraid to speak up, or they had something to gain.
In my book, Clara has mentioned about how her feelings and emotions change her, about how the war helped her grow up. Her family as well, has gone through changes, such as their views on non-Jewish people, they learned that they were not all to be despised or hated, because after all, Mr. and Mrs. Beck aren't Jewish people.
Leo doesn't state this, but I'm sure he feels the same way. A lot of non-Jewish people helped him throughout the book. The Resistance Fighters and others were often able to give him fake papers, as well as food when he needed to travel long distance to another area.
Clara's mother attended her cousin in the ghettos several times, because she had gotten sick, and someone needed to take care of her children. Mr. Beck eventually had to put an end to that because he didn't want her to get anyone sick in their house. Clara's mother almost had to stay over in the ghettos because Mr. Beck implemented that rule while she was tending to her cousin.
With Clara's sister gone, it has definitely had a major impact on the whole cellar, because most everyone misses her. I can't imagine what it would have been like to lose someone that close.
Yea that has definitely got to be tough. Is the threat of her being taken away still exist?
Not anymore, it has almost turned into an "every man for himself" situation. After all, she is 16 and she has definitely become aware of the happenings of World War II.
What are some of your predictions for the book?
Now that I have read the book, I obviously can't make any predictions, but at the time I knew he was obviously going to survive, but I was completely surprised as to how many times he ran off/escaped. Leo was really courageous throughout the book, and that is what ultimately kept him alive.
Does Leo have any close friends or relatives with him, and if so, are they still alive? Do you think that his friend/relative may survive?
Leo doesn't really have relatives around him for a long period of time. What I mean by that, is since he is constantly on the run (he has relatives spread out across Europe) he can only stay with them for brief periods of time. One time, he was with his aunt in France for a few days, but had to leave before the French caught him and turned him over to the Germans.
Is he forced to move to different locations of relatives because of SS, or is he becoming anxious, where he tells himself that the location that he was in is no longer safe.
What do you think will end up happening to Clara?
Obviously, I know that she will live, or else this story would have never been written. And I also think that all of her immediate family will survive. I don't think that t6hey will ever get to any concentration camps.
It seems that in your book Leo is in locations where there are high numbers of German soldiers. In my book there are few occasions where SS will come knocking on Mr. Beck's door, even then, they always had their ears open, and their mouths shut.
Your guess is correct. Leo is everywhere throughout the book. He usually will escape somewhere, get anxious and the flee when it seemed like he wasn't in any danger. This fleeing to a new place would bring him more trouble. For example, one time he was in France (Paris) with his aunt and she told him to stay with her, but he decided to leave to go to a new location which caught him caught by the Germans. This led to him being taken to a detention camp called Drancy, located in France. This location was the stop before Jews were shipped to Auschwitz, or another concentration camp. Luckily, Leo was able to escape Drancy.
At this point in the book, Mr. beck has made his marriage very difficult with his wife because of his affair with the Jew in the cellar. Sometimes they both will leave the house for days, scaring the Jews in the cellar into thinking that they will never return. His daughter, is currently talking/flirting with a German soldier, which really scares Clara and the Jews.
Leo had a situation kind of similar to this. Early in the book, he befriended a Nazi soldier (who didn't know he was Jewish) who seemed nice. This soldier helped Leo out for a brief period of time. Unfortunately, Leo had to leave this friend and we never find out the outcome of that soldier.
Leo was able to avoid ever being put in a "death camp" throughout his journey due to daring escapes. When the war ended, Leo immigrated to America, specifically Brooklyn, NY. He then moved to Baltimore and lived there for the rest of his life until he died in 2014.
Clara and her family moved to Israel after the war, and she also notes on the last few pages that nothing will be the same to her anymore.
Leo lost a lot of his family unfortunately, did Clara lose any relatives besides her sister?
Clara has not lost anyone besides her grandfather, who died as everything was beginning to unfold, her sister, which she witnessed, and their cousins' son, who was buried alive as an infant.
At one point, Leo had to put a Jewish star (Star of David) on his arm to signify that he was a Jew. Did Clara ever experience things like these? Or did she not because she was in hiding the whole time?
They were forced to make the star of David on their own, and on a lot of normal occasions, they were killed if they were seen without their patch. She doesn't mention anything about wearing it after she goes into hiding, so I'd assume that she doesn't have to worry about it at all.
Leo mentioned the fact that non-German radios were banned. He of course used one illegally to listen to what the Frenchman Resistance and Allied Powers were up to. Did you book ever mention anything about radios being banned?
Mr. Beck pointed out early in the book that radios were banned by the Germans. But he has one in his attic that they also store their family Torah with.
Are there any indications of relationships between characters in your book to Nazi soldiers? If so, in what way?
Yes, at one point Leo did in fact become "friends" with a Nazi soldier. The soldier was kind to him though, I am not sure the Nazi knew he was a Jew at that point. It would've been hard for him to not know, though.
Mr. Beck's daughter has begun to flirt with a German soldier, and Mr. Beck is also really close friends with a soldier as well.
While the Germans had control over the town that Clara resided in, did people still work? Clara's father still worked, but under German soldier supervision. At this point, (which was in the earlier chapters) he was the only worker at his factory.
A lot of people in Leo's town did in fact work, yes. There was a lot of supervision and eventually a TON of restrictions. After a while, they completely lost their businesses... they were either destroyed or taken over by a "non-Jew".
Are there any instances in your book where non-Jews are able to walk into a Jew's household and take their belongings?
This happened once, actually. Somebody randomly walked into a Jew's house and claimed it for themselves. It was completely legal under the new law and the Jewish person had to accept it and move out.
In your book, were Jews treated fairly before the war, or were they treated like bums? Clara recollected that before the war, in her hometown, that everyone was kind to each other, and not hard-pressed.
In some instances, Jews were already being discriminated against. Even before the Nazis took control, some were referred to as "pigs" and "Jew-boy/girl". Women were sometimes called Sara (as an insult) because there was a stereotype that all Jewish women were named Sara, so it essentially became a synonymous word for Jewish women.
Clara's sister was killed in a mass shooting by the SS, are there any times where there are constant brawls on the street, or is it mostly peaceful?
The Nazis -as a general rule- kept order in the streets. However, there were "firing squads" that killed many Jews. Leo never witnessed it, but certainly heard about it from other people. In fact, he heard from another Jewish person that around 30,000 Jews were killed in a mere few days.
In my book, and the place that it takes place in, there is no talk of escaping or fleeing Poland. Most everyone stays, and eventually get shipped off to Ghettos and/or concentration camps. Clara and her family were one of few that survived the duration of the war.
Leo is the exact opposite. The longest he ever stayed in one spot was around 1 year while stuck in a detention camp in southern France near the Pyrenees.
The event that caused the death of Clara's little sister, is the fact that their house and close to 20 others had gone up in flames. Is it common in your book for the Nazi's to burn houses?
They did a lot of destroying, but Leo never did mention houses being burned.
Was there any mention of Jewish traditions still preformed even during this rough time? For example, Leo still was able to celebrate Yom Kippur and other holidays, as well as saying "Kaddish"during these times
As a matter of fact, they have, but they are depressed and lonely. Mr. Beck will help them celebrate by giving them good foods to eat.
Oh cool! So they were able to hand onto some traditions
What happened with the soldier who was kind to the girl? Did he end up keeping the secret/not finding out?
She never told him anything, they met because there were suspicions, and the young soldier talked the head-honcho out of searching their house, because he believed that she was telling the truth, and that he liked her.
Oh cool. One time, Leo was in hiding and Anny kissed a guard to keep him from searching the area that Leo was in.
Was there any sign of people slowly losing their faith? I know in Leo's story a few people started to stop believed that God would save them.
Sometimes Clara becomes frustrated over multiple things, but she reminds herself of who she worships, and that He will answer her prayers in His own time. But other than that, she stands strong in her faith.
Leo seems to be the same way. he stays strong in his faith, but it is no longer priority number 1. He is more worried about escaping
What was Leo's parents like? Were they shipped to concentration camps and then Leo went rogue? Or were Leo's parents dead, and his relatives took care of him. If his parents were dead, how common would that be?
His dad dies in 1938, not much known about him (turns out it wasn't his real dad-- it is complicated). He left his mom and daughter in Austria when he ran off
How did Leo survive as he travelled from place to place? Did he steal? Did he pack a super large sack of food, water, and clothes? Maybe he was particularly well at hunting and surviving on nature?
Surprisingly, he was able to find family members, or find a nice baker/other shop by sheer luck who was sympathetic to the Jewish people
What inspired Leo to move to America after the war? Was he tired of the poverty, and he wanted to begin a new life in America?
I think a combination of both. He just wanted out of Europe after what he saw, and nobody was willing to help.
Did any of Clara's family talk about, or experience Kristallnacht?
Reply is below.
They never actually mentioned the word itself, but they mention stuff that they read in newspapers, and from news that they get from Mr. Beck.
Ok, so similar to Leo. He never witnessed it, he only heard about it through rumors and some radio broadcasts.
I liked Leo's book a lot. He described what he saw in vivid detail, and left me with very little questions about his history. Leo was a really courageous person, and the fact he escaped so many times is really impressive.
I also enjoyed my book, Clara used a lot of German vocabulary, which I plan on researching. Clara was very determined to survive and was very brave.
I noticed throughout the book, every time that Leo wanted to escape, he would offer people to join him, but most refused. They had accepted their fate by the Nazis. That part of the book was really dark and upsetting.
This happened on a few occasions in my book. I found it hard to tell if they were joking, or if they were being serious.
Yea. Mine was upsetting cause Leo had created an escape out of a cattle car and offered someone to join him and they refused. Luckily, at the end of the book Leo seems him by pure coincidence and the man was alive and happy. So it ended up working out.
Throughout the book, Leo gives name to certain nations. He calls the Austrians "First Victims", the Swiss, "The opportunistic Swiss" and the French, "the place where many claim to be part of the resistance." I thought this was interesting because it points out the fact that some of these nations who are perceived to be "good" to the Jews, actually weren't.