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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Survivor's Game, by David Karmi, is the story of his experiences in the death camps during World War II, and the life he built for himself after his release. Karmi was the youngest of eight children born to a Hungarian carpenter and his Romanian wife. At first, he was expelled from Romania, together with his parents and his sister Ilene. They were driven with other families across the border into Poland and left in a field without food or water where they were beaten by thugs. Karmi's family hid and evaded the beatings but found, when they finally were able to return home, that they were to be rounded up, once again, and sent this time to Auschwitz, a concentration camp surrounded by fences, guards with dogs and barbed wire. Karmi was fourteen years old at the time and small for his age. He watched as the commandant selected people to go into one of two groups and saw that the old, weak and very young were sent to one group. He resolved that, somehow, he would be assigned to the other.
David Karmi's Survivor's Game is the story of one boy's survival against all odds. His tale is told simply and eloquently. There are times you'll feel unutterable sadness at reading his words as he is, in many ways, like a very young Dante travelling through Hell, clinging all the while to the hope that he would eventually get free and be reunited with his family. He also tells the stories of the other prisoners who befriended him, an older German political prisoner whose words helped him devise a survival strategy, and the German officer who made him his assistant and brought him to his home on weekends for dinner with the officer's family. It is truly a remarkable story and one that will stay with me for a very long time. If you are going to read one Holocaust survivor's tale, make this the one. If you think you've read them all, sit down with Survivor's Game and start reading. It's an amazing story and one I highly recommend.