"Escape via Siberia"

That one small child could survive so much is compelling testimony to the will to live in this true story of unfathomable terror and unbelievable luck.


Escape via Siberia
A Jewish Child's Odyssey of Survival

Dorit Bader Whiteman
(Holmes and Meier, 1999)

A boy battling history�.With the crack of a Nazi whip on his father's head a young boy's world was gone forever. Eliezer "Lonek" Jaroslawicz and his once prosperous Polish Jewish family joined the tide of refugees fleeing east from the Nazi menace at the dawn of the Second World War. In Escape via Siberia: A Child's Odyssey of Survival (Holmes & Meier November, 1999), author Dorit Bader Whiteman places the young Lonek within the history he was unfortunate enough to experience. With the compassionate and analytical eye of a psychologist, Dorit Whiteman takes us with Lonek through a half-century of unfathomable terror and tales of unbelievable luck.

The family escapes the Nazi menace in Poland only to end up in the clutches of a different evil --- the Soviet Union. Imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp Lonek and his family are certain that they will not survive and will be forgotten by the world. But a short-lived agreement between the Polish government-in-exile and the Soviet Union results in their miraculous release.

Spellbound readers will follow Lonek and his parents in their search for safety as they flee south to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Life there turns out to be harsh --- they face disease and starvation. Driven to despair, Lonek's mother leaves her son on the doorstep of an orphanage. But Lonek is there less than one day when he is swept up in a dramatic rescue operation, part of an internationally organized kinderstransport. The lonely boy, along with 900 other Jewish children, is taken from Tashkent to Teheran.

En route to Palestine, some of the Teheran children line up with their counselors in India.




Almost without hope, the victims of failed diplomacy and the vagaries of war, the children are stranded in Iran. Their plight is championed by Henrietta Szold while the leadership of Hadassah relentlessly pressures the American and British governments to assure the children's safe passage. After eight arduous months and a circuitous route through Pakistan and Egypt, Lonek and the other children safely reach Palestine in 1943.

Lonek at age 13, shortly after reaching Palestine. By then, Lonek had survived months in a Siberian labor camp and endured an almost 13,000 mile odyssey (mostly alone) from his home in Poland through war-torn Europe.

In Escape via Siberia Whiteman has crafted a beautiful elegy to the strength of the human spirit. Lonek's story alternately chills and amazes. That one small child could survive so much is compelling testimony to the will to live. As the generation of Holocaust survivors passes from our world, we are fortunate to have Lonek's story.

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