Nina Stone

Title: Silent no More: Melbourne child survivors of the holocaust
Author: Nina Stone
Publisher: Child Survivors of the Holocaust
Place of publication: Melbourne
Year of Publication: 1999
Location of Book: Makor Jewish Community Library, Melbourne
Cities/town/camps: Belgium: Brussels, France: Gembloux, Paris, Drancy, Hungary: Budapest, Holland: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Poland: Krakow, Luboml, Lwow, WarsawLodz, Lublin, Auschwitz-BirkenauGermany: Peterswaldau, Buchenwald, Czechoslovakia: Brezno, Sered, Uncertain: Gerarsdorf
Note: those cities/towns/camps underlined are those which are most central to the narrative

Silent No More is an anthology of different stories told by child survivors of the Holocaust. A child survivor is defined as someone 16 years or under at the conclusion of World War II. The book is separated into individual recollections, each under its own heading. Over 50 survivors contributed to the anthology. Accounts vary in length from half a page to four pages. The first 120 pages consist of poems, paintings and vivid personal recollections of survivors; 10 pages deal with personal accounts of life in Europe after liberation; 15 pages are devoted to the legacy of war. In 1993, editor Nina Stone organised a conference encouraging survivors to speak of their experiences. She aimed to have the experiences written down and gathered into a historical document. For five years, child survivors met and told their stories verbally, and by 1998 these stories of the heart were all written down to be documented together. Some of the stories were written before this meeting, yet for many, this was the first time they had re-lived and documented their experiences of the Holocaust, some fifty years after liberation. The book was eventually published in 1999 by Child Survivors of the Holocaust .

The book recounts a number of diverse and unique stories, each revealing a different time, place, and personal experience. The editor of the book, Nina Stone, is a member of the Melbourne Child Survivors of the Holocaust, a discussion group that meets monthly, arranging seminars and publications on survivor-related issues. Nina was determined to publish a book devoted to the formerly silent voices of child survivors of the Holocaust. Growing up in that period, the child survivors had suffered through many atrocities, yet had not been old enough to fully understand them. Nina Stone was born in Nowy Sacz, Poland in 1935. She narrowly escaped death many times, including when her train, which was travelling towards the killing fields in Romania, returned back to Budapest, the only train to do so. She later discovered that this was due to the heroism of Raoul Wallenberg.

Silent No More explores a number of different experiences and issues of the Holocaust. A range of elements have been included, from the first stages of the Holocaust, when Jews were forced to live in ghettos, to subsequent stages when extermination centres were established, up until liberation. The writers’ experiences range from horrors such as physical abuse and starvation, to being the only ones to survive from large families, with no relatives and nowhere to go. One child survivor recalls how she escaped a concentration camp in Slovakia by being trapped inside a small wooden crate, to be smuggled out to a safe destination (Giselle Vadas, pp73-74). Another survivor was made to eat potatoes until he vomited, as punishment for stealing an SA guard’s dinner (Gary Gray, pp50-53). A number of survivors recall wondering with childhood innocence, “will it hurt when they shoot us?”

The stories are moving, often disturbing. The graphic personal memories of what children saw and endured during the war have been recorded with simplicity and clarity. Many of the stories are accompanied by photographs of the authors when were still children. Short and sharp, the stories in Silence No More provide a poignant portrait of tragic period of innocence lost.