The Bravery And Horrors Of War
The Children’s Train by Jana Zinser is a heart wrenching historical novel focusing on the years 1938-1945 in Germany. It is written from the point of view of the Jewish people. The novel zooms in on a small group of individuals. They are a microcosm for what affected millions and not just in Germany.
We follow the plight of several families from their homes and lives where liberties are eroded to the kindertransport to the ghetto to the gas chambers. The reader witnesses the full horror of what life was like when you were Jewish in Nazi Germany.
There is both bravery and desperation of parents relinquishing their children on a train to a better life in England. The reader ‘travels’ to England and also remains behind in Germany.
As lives are extinguished so hope is extinguished too. It feels like the world has abandoned the Jewish people to their fate. “They’re robbing our souls, and the world has turned out its light and gone to sleep.” It even feels like God has left them. “Do you think God can still hear me?”
There are some very difficult to read scenes of horror, as well as scenes of great bravery and of hope. Some possess a fighting spirit, for others it is just too much.
A particularly moving scene for me involved Eddie and Otto towards the end of the war. I shall say no more but let you read it yourselves.
The literary device of pathetic fallacy was used as the weather mirrored the mood. “Lightning flashed and thunder shook as the train travelled across Germany.”
The Children’s Train was simply written but this simplicity seemed to magnify the horrors.
We must never forget the evil done to the innocents – the six million who perished and the others who survived.