At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing up on the Edge of the Holocaust
“1998 Best Book for the Teen Age” choice of the New York Public Library
Der Endlose Krieg: Jugend am Rande des Holocausts
This German translation (2006) is available from the Scheunen-Verlag,
Kolonie 4 1317 Kükenshagen, Germany
At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust is a thank you to the righteous Christians who helped Suzanne Loebl survive the Holocaust as a hidden child in Belgium during World War II.
For Jews trapped in Western Europe during World War II, survival depended largely on where they lived. Belgians did a lot to save its Jews. At the heart of At the Mercy of Strangers is the account of how Suzanne Bamberger, her mother and sister managed to be among those lucky enough to survive in Brussels.
At the Mercy of Strangers is uplifting even though it never minimizes the horrors of the Holocaust, or of World War II. Suzanne’s mature self summarizes her feelings:
“I never regretted growing up at the edge of the Holocaust. It made me a stronger, more compassionate, human being. And strange as it might sound, the experience provided me with a deep faith in humanity. Though there is much evidence to the contrary, I believe that when you have your back against the wall, somebody out there may come to the rescue.
“But I know how lucky I was. My family escaped intact. … I well remember the fears, the nightmares, the death of loved one, the loneliness, the helplessness, and being at the mercy of strangers and informers. … I still feel the extreme frustration of being powerless in the face of mortal danger. Yet I did not have to witness the horrors of the camps, the trips to the gas chamber; share the long death marches, or suffer from extreme cold, hunger, or illness. I did not have to steal bread from my dying parent or make other inhuman decisions that forever after would have haunted my days and nights.”
At The Mercy of Strangers is an ideal tool for teaching young adults about the Holocaust and World War II.
Lecture: A Personal Story of Holocaust Survival written and delivered by Suzanne Loebl and tailored to specific audiences can be booked. Lectures to schools are provided free of charge.