Cover Image: The Children's Block

The Children's Block

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Member Reviews

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. 

There is a line right at the beginning of this book that really hit home for me as a reader:
“ There is no such thing as the Holocaust of six million but rather six million separate Holocausts, each different from the other, each one with its own suffering, fears and scars.”

I think that has been proven by the many different accounts of the Holocaust that I have read before, and I am sure will later read again. 

Although this is a fictional book it is based on a true account of Otto B. Kraus’ experiences within Auschwitz Birkenau’s Kinder Block. From what I understand it is one of very few books written about the Kinder Block. It shows how the adults tried to make a normal life within the confines of the block and tried to shield them from some of the horrors occurring around them. 

This books seems to really capture the lasting impact the Holocaust had and has upon the survivors, including the guilt they feel for surviving when so many didn’t. 

A truly captivating read, that in some parts, as a mother of two young boys, absolutely broke my heart.
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If reading about time in Auschwitz isn’t hard enough adding children to the mix just makes it so much harder. A very emotional read that I couldn’t put down.
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Another powerful book about the holocaust but this one focuses on life at the children’s block at Auschwitz from the perspective of the people who cared for them, who not only taught them but who also tried to shield them from the absolute horror going on around them. 

Although this novel is technically fiction, it is actually written by a holocaust survivor using his own personal experiences,
research and interviews with surviving instructors of the children’s block. 

A compelling read, that will leave you thinking about it for days after finishing it. I would definitely recommend.
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Emotional read, as with any book of this nature. But also beautifully captured. A difficult time to read about, but so important to remember the strength and decency shown by humans forced to live in the most horrific circumstances. There's a lot of books like this out at the moment, but they each hold their own magic. This is a great book.
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An important read as it showed what it was like caring for the children in the Auschwitz camps from someone who was actually there.

You feel everything that the characters are feeling and you build up a relationship with the children not knowing if they are going to survive the camp or not. It shows that hope and happiness can be kept alive in the worst circumstances by people who have the ability to withstand it 

What they did with the children was really interesting as they made the children’s block feel like a school through songs and puppet shows, a world away from what they were living in
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A heartbreaking book focusing on the daily life of the Children's Block from the perspective of the helpers rather than the children. The children receive an education of sorts (formal education is forbidden) putting on plays, drawing and learning to dance, as well as some maths and writing on the sly. While some reviews have said the book doesn't focus much on the back stories of the children I believe there are reasons for this - many of the children can't remember much before the concentration camp or the ghetto where they lived before. The adults have a greater sense of loss of a life before while the children adapt to their situation, as bad as it is and as bad as that seems. There are many more tales of heartbreak than of victory, as you would expect. What makes it even more heartbreaking is that this novel is written by one of the surviving teachers of the block, basing the novel's characters of composites of real life people, events and stories of their time there. Necessary as a different perspective for those who have read about The Tattooist or Cilka.
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Another powerful book about life in Auschwitz only this time from the Children's block. Whilst I enjoyed reading this book, it didn't hold my attention as similar books have done in the past.
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A harrowing account about the life of around 500 Jewish children who lived in the Czech Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau between September 1943 and June 1944, supervised by the notorious Dr. Mengele. 
Whilst the book is fiction, it is based on fact & written by a survivor of the Holocaust who worked in the Childrens Block. It is a harsh, painful, hardhitting read, yet potentially important as many people forget that children were interred in the concentration camps alongside adults.

It is quite raw & doesn't romanticise what happened as some stories do. Yes, it's a bit disjointed & there isn't a lot of background explanation about life before the camp, but as a window into the horrific reality of daily life in a concentration camp it is a very powerful book. 
The book ends in early July 1944 when Josef Mengele carried out a “selection” that sent around 1/3 of the healthiest young men & women to other camps. History tells us that the remaining 7,000 including children, were exterminated in the gas chambers on the nights of July 10-11 and 11-12. 
(More information can be found at:

This was a hard book to read and will be with me for a long time, but I am glad that I read it.

Disclosure: I received an advance Reader Copy of this book free via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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This book was emotional but you had to finish it was so beautifully written would recommend others to read .
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‘Yet as long as they believe in miracles, they weren’t entirely lost’ - The Children’s Block - Otto B Kraus.

I mean, the introduction and prologue to this book where enough to break your heart. However, there wasn’t a great deal of detail about the lives of the children - it talked about their day to day activities but not about their feelings or how/why they got there  - I don’t necessarily want to read about the hardships they went through but I had expected this to be more of an insight. 

An adaption of the lives of adults who worked on the children’s block and how they enriched their lives by teaching them and showing them how to find the best in truly awful situations. Although this is a piece of historical fiction, I feel like it read more like non-fiction. 

Nevertheless, an important read to make people aware that it wasn’t just adults within Auschwitz. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and finding out about Auschwitz then you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re looking for something along the same lines as The Tattooist of Aschwitz, this isn’t it. 

A good read but not what I expected. Thanks to @netgalley and @eburybooks for my copy.
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The Children's Block by Otto B Kraus 
I dont even know where to start reviewing this book. I've read a good few books about Auschwitz,  and this is up there with the best of them. The book covers a very difficult time in history, and it doesn't gloss over the horrors of that time or romanticize what happened.  I felt my breath catch with sadness at the utter despair the prisoners must have experienced,  yet all the while there is the feeling of hope for a better life. 
I enjoyed this book, although that feels like a wrong way to describe my feelings about it, given the devastation described on these pages.
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I was filled with sadness at what lay ahead as I read in the prologue that the author of this book was 'a children's counsellor in Kinderblock in Auschwitz'.  

The Children's Block is the autobiographical novel of Otto Kraus, a survivor of Auschwitz.   The book was originally published in 1993 in Prague, and in other countries since.  Thanks to Penguin Random House this novel is now available worldwide in 2019.  Like all books I have read about the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camps, this book is deeply moving and disturbing.  Yet it also tells a story of survival, and I found it reminiscent of the philosophy of Viktor Frankl, how the worst atrocities can be endured through purpose, hope and dreams.  

It is this philosophy that leads the introduction of the book, written by Otto's wife, Dita.  In later years they found that a higher percentage of survivors of concentration camps were among those who worked with children in the "Kinderblocks'.   This is attributed to the strength and stamina that people were able to gain through their sense of purpose in trying to alleviate the suffering of children.  The novel tells the story of how children in Auschwitz were in many ways removed from the reality through creative activities of play, art, music, theatre and poetry.  They lived in a world with no birds or stars in the sky, yet were able to create imaginary worlds.  The adults in the novel also found strength from their dreams and at times were able to portray a dark humour through plays created for the children.   The novel is told in the voice of the character Alex Ehren, and captures how his philosophy on life adjusts to comprehend the knowledge of information that they were going to be killed in a few months time with a set date...

Otto Kraus writes in a poetic way that really captures the horrific reality of Auschwitz, the lasting trauma, and ultimately the way that life is experienced and understood in the face of such suffering.   Underlying all of this is what it means to be human and to survive.   It's a story, like every other, that needs to be told and heard.    This is, as Alex Ehren says, not about The Holocaust, but about My Holocaust.  The personal story of every man, woman and child.   This is a must-read.  

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my personal review.
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The Children's Block by Otto B Kraus first published as "The Painted Wall" It tells the true story of 500 Jewish children who lived in the Czech Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau between September 1943 and June 1944. You will learn who Alex Ehren was, within this book through his diaries he secretly wrote. 

Alex, was a poet, a prisoner and a teacher and was based in Block 31 in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the children’s block. Alex spends all his days trying to survive living in these dreadful surroundings and illegally giving lessons to young children around him, whilst trying his hardest to hide the horrors of the camp the children will see or hear stories about, when they step out of their block they were living in. These diaries focuses on the life these children were living within the children's camp and the conditions they all were in.  

This was a very hard book to read and review and will have you in tears. However, I am so glad I had a chance to read it. 
The Children's Block will be with me for a long time. 

I highly recommend this book especially if you are learning this subject for school etc or just would like to learn more what happened to over 500 Jewish children who lived in the Czech Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau between September 1943 and June 1944.

Big thank you to Penguin Random House UK and and Netgalley for my advanced readers copy of this book. 
All opinions are my own and not biased in anyway.
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A harrowing account about life in Auschwitz. The inhumanity is so hard to read. This is a part of history that should never be forgotten.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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