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The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,896 Ratings  ·  358 Reviews
It is June 1941. The Rudomin family has been arrested by the Russians. They are "capitalists' enemies of the people." Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Siberia.

For five years, Esther and her family live in exile, weeding potato fields and working in the mines, struggling f

Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 12th 1995 by HarperCollins (first published 1968)
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Feb 18, 2013 Chrissie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Lynne
4 stars
An excellent introduction to children about World War II. It is written from the perspective of a Jewish 10-year old from Vilna. Vilnius, as it is called today, is now the capital of Lithuania. In 1941 it was part of Poland. The book is an autobiographical account of the author's childhood in Siberia.

I was impressed by the amount of history incorporated into this slim book: deportation of the Jews to Siberia, three years spent in a small village on the Russian steppes, the events of the
Aug 30, 2010 Hava rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hava by: Sariah Pearson
LOVED it. This was better than "Diary of Anne Frank," in my not-so-humble opinion. I had never even heard of this book until my sister handed it to me and told me to read it. It sat on my shelf for months and I kept ignoring it - it just seemed like it would be depressing, and I wasn't in the mood.

BUT! This book was wonderful. Moving, beautiful, funny, believable, heartbreaking...all rolled up into one. I read some of the other reviews of the book and was surprised to see that some said that it
Hilary Woolf
Jun 20, 2016 Hilary Woolf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esther is an 11 year old Jewish girl sent to Siberia in a cattle train with some of her family as they are accused of being capitalists. We enjoyed the descriptions of life in Siberia, the harsh, inhumane existence but also the beauty found in the wilderness, the hope, the acts of kindness and just how much small things can mean when you have nothing. It was told from Esther's point of view, it told of her need to fit in and how anything seemed more bearable with love and friends. Particularly m ...more
Alex Baugh
Apr 03, 2012 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
One beautiful June morning in 1941, Esther Rudomin, 10, finds her happy, care free life in Vilna, Poland changed forever. Early in the morning, her family - father, mother, grandmother and Esther, are arrested by the Soviet Army. They are charged with being capitalists and sent on a six week long train ride in cattle car ride Siberia.

Arriving at a gypsum mine in Siberia, they are assigned their jobs - father to drive a horse and cart, mother to work at dynamiting the mine, Esther and her grandm
Mar 30, 2014 Morgan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Read this book if you want to be blown away by beautiful, powerful writing. Esther was ten years old when her family was exiled to Siberia because of an accusation of being capitalists in Stalin's Soviet Union. Told through a childs perspective, The Endless Steppe gives an unique view on how life was like for Russians during the WW2 Era.
Tim Byers
Nov 04, 2008 Tim Byers rated it really liked it
This gem sat on my book table for weeks before I finally cracked it open. It recounts a slice of history previously unknown to me--the Soviets, after they had devoured eastern Poland in the devil's pact with Hitler in 1939, decided to deport Jews to Siberia as slave labor. Young Esther tells the story, which is both survival and coming-of-age tale. Exile to the brutal wilderness of the steppe becomes salvation from an even more unthinkable fate had they been left behind (at one point, Esther des ...more
Aug 20, 2016 Susann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Picked this up during our latest heat wave. A fascinating true story about a Jewish Polish family deported to Siberia during WWII. Which would have been a terrible, terrible thing, if it weren't for the reality of what would have happened otherwise. I am impressed with Esther's ingenuity as her family struggles to survive and by her shifting feelings for the steppe and its people.

Years later, Hautzig was a publicist for Crowell Publishing. She had the clever idea of marketing Maud Hart Lovelace'
Feb 24, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
I read this when I was young, and it has stuck with me since though I don't quite remember the plot, only the theme. I would love to reread this one day.
Feb 24, 2010 Daisy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marieke, Muphyn, Diana
Recommended to Daisy by: Chrissie
This is such a vivid, captivating story and it's beautifully written. Engrossing.
In spite of, or maybe because of the its subject matter, certain moments and details have a lot of charm and insight. It's in the voice of a ten year-old Polish girl but it's a memoir so its real perspective must be with the benefit of hindsight and survival.

p.2 What I ate for breakfast on school mornings was one buttered roll--a soft roll, not a hard roll--and one cup of cocoa; any attempt to alter this menu I rega
The Endless Steppe is an autobiographical novel, written by a Jewish woman of Polish origin, Esther Hautzig, née Rudomin.
In 1941, when she was a mere child of ten, she was deported with her parents and her grandmother to Rubtsovsk, a city in Siberia, near Altai. This region became infamous for hosting labor/concentration camps for political enemies of the Soviets. The Rudomins were accused of being Jewish and capitalists. Hautzig described perfectly the anguish and despair of being suddenly kid
Julie Leung
Apr 18, 2010 Julie Leung rated it really liked it
The cousin of Anne Frank’s diary, The Diary of Anne Frank, could be thought of more as an enjoyable reading book. I loved the way Esther puts family forth more than her own needs of survival. For example, the way she kept on insisting she bring her photo album with her instead of her own clothes. Where she was going, she didn’t know. Yet it was still a selfless and admirable act. There was much filial love when Esther had to depend and listen to her mother direct her that she had to work hard fo ...more
Simple and lovely. I have no idea how I missed this one as a child; I certainly read enough Holocaust literature, much of it overwrought. This would have stood out. She captures the child's eye view perfectly, all focused on the minutia of day to day--where will I find shoes? where will I find books? how will I make friends at this strange new school?--and almost but not quite oblivious to the terrible currents in the background.

When the end came, and Esther wanted to stay in Siberia and make a
Dec 04, 2012 Robin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Robin by: A Past Teacher
Extremely touching. There was a point in time when I became one with Esther, the main character. I will never be the same again. With an edge of darkness that keeps you on your toes, this book will change your life forever.

Synopsis:Exiled to Siberia
In June 1942, the Rudomin family is arrested by the Russians. They are "capitalists -- enemies of the people." Forced from their home and friends in Vilna, Poland, they are herded into crowded cattle cars. Their destination: the endless steppe of Sibe
Mar 25, 2013 Victoria rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
When I was about 11 or 12, I had bought this book and couldn't wait to read it, but never did because I had issues of dyslexia that I wouldn't work through at that time. Eventually a flood came years later and it was destroyed and the book was a waste of money. Thankfully I remembered how I really wanted to read it and now at 29, I did so!

Esther grew up in a rich Jewish family in Poland during WWII and her family was shipped out to Siberia to work labor until they were able to have more leniency
Dec 21, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
Although this is a childern's literature book, I found it to be engrossing. It is a Polish woman's memoir of forceably being sent with her family when she was 10 to Siberia by the Russians. Her family's crime: being capitalists. The author describes how the family survived in the vast open, harsh environment of Siberia, and their efforts to adjust to their new poverty and political climate of communisim. Esther remained in Siberia for about 3 years, during WWII, and despite her difficult times, ...more
Mar 17, 2009 Sue rated it really liked it
I read this book to see if it would be a good one to recommend to my students. It is Esther Hautzig's autobiographical account of her family being sent to the barren, frozen steppes of Siberia during WWII and how they survive the hardships there. This is a Jewish family with some wealth living in Poland before they are forced from their home and herded into cattle cars. Their experiences are harrowing, but she tells the story with hope and even humor. "It radiates optimism and the resilience of ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it
I read this in my youth and decided to re-read it. I love that it is not too heavy. Many more gruesome details could have been shared, and yet you still get an amazing view into what it may have been like during this terrible time of history. This is a great story of survival, family love, and triumph. This is a humbling read that I highly recommend.
Sep 04, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: just-damn-good
I read this in school sometime in the seventies. It was a life shaping book for me, mainly because it gave a view of a different life, a different place, and hardships I hoped I'd never know. I've recommended it to several young people over the years and all but one came back to tell me the book had the same effect on them.
Jul 08, 2009 Jenn rated it it was amazing
My mom unloaded this on me with several other of her book club's past picks. I read it in a couple of hours on our ride home. It is the autobiographical story of a young Jewish girl living in exile in Russia during WWII. Unlike other reviewers here, I did not think the book was slow paced. I really liked it.
Ms. Bryan
Nov 24, 2009 Ms. Bryan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-faves
When I was in 5th grade, our librarian read this aloud to our class. It was the most memorable book for me, and it remains one of my alltime favorite young adult books!
Dec 03, 2009 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. I felt connected to the characters and I have fallen in love with the characters!
May 14, 2014 Erint rated it liked it
The Endless Steppe is a powerful book that will certainly please those who love history. Written by Esther Hautzig, this book provides a different point of view of the treatment of Jews during World War Two since we do not often see what happened in Russia with the forced labor camps. Many only read about Adolph Hitler and the concentration camps in Western Europe. Ten-year-old Esther and her family live an affluent lifestyle in Vilna, Poland during World War Two in an apartment building owned b ...more
Apr 24, 2008 K. rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-young-adult
I picked this book up the other day when I was feeling a little picked upon and needed to remember that my teeny trials are nothing comparatively.

This was a sweet little book. It tells about another side of WWII I hadn't read about before. The Russians invaded Poland before the Germans did and carried many people away for various reasons.

Esther and her very wealthy family were carried away to Siberia not for being Jewish (which they were) but for the crime of being "capitalists." ! They spent
Jan 06, 2008 Susannahcox rated it really liked it
Esther Hautzig's recollection of her family's five-year exile in Siberia, beginning in 1941, added a great deal to my understanding of the events of WWII as they played out between Russia and Germany. I love personal accounts of historical periods and can't think of a better way to study the past.

In a strange twist of fate, Russia's deportation of the Rudomins for the "crime" of capitalism saved them from the genocide visited upon Polish Jews by Germany. Esther's accounts of deprivation and hung
Dec 13, 2012 Natalie_honarchian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: a mature audience
Recommended to Natalie_honarchian by: google
I chose to read The Endless Steppe because I literally searched "depressing books to read" on Google and this book came up. When I bought it at Barns and Nobles and read the back cover I already knew I wasn't going to like this book. However, that changed when I got deep into this book. The Endless Steppe is about the Rudomin family and how they are exiled to Siberia. Esther and her family go through very hard labor in dangerous and filthy conditions just to have money for barely enough food an ...more
Aug 05, 2009 John rated it really liked it
It is World War II and the Rudomin family -- 10-year-old Esther, her mom and dad and various members of the extended family -- are living privileged lives in Poland. The government seizes them and takes them to a work camp. But this is not the Nazi German government and it is not because they are Jews -- although they are Jews. It's the Soviet Russian government, and their crime is being capitalists.
In this memoir, Esther Hautzig tells the story of the next five years beautifully, with enchantin
Oct 12, 2011 Alicia rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alicia by: Sonlight Catalog (great reading lists)
Facinating true story of a 10-year-old Jewish Polish girl who was sent with her parents and grandma to live in Siberia in 1941 because they were "wealthy capitalists". Though the 5 years in Siberia were difficult years of cold and poverty, I was so impressed with Esther's resiliency and how she worked hard to make the best of her situation. When her family finally returned to Poland, they discovered that nearly all of their relatives had died in the Holocaust.

My favorite quote: When Esther was t
May 14, 2016 Kasia rated it liked it
The Endless Steppe.....seemed endless. Was a biography about a Jewish family from Poland that was taken to Siberia by the Russians after being accused of being Capitalists. Esther's story showed a
different part of WWII that most people don't hear about. The Russian's and their involvement and how in the end it may have saved Esther and her family, and other Polish Jews.
Feb 14, 2014 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Somehow I ended up with a copy of The Endless Steppe as a child and I must have read it several times because it got stuck in my subconscious. For years I would think about it, and images would coming flooding back to me, about the day the soldiers appeared to take the family to Siberia, and the cold, desolation of the frozen tundra. Most of all, I would think about the grandmother who pushed back her cuticles every night in the labor camp, to keep her hands beautiful. A few months ago, I spotte ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Tori rated it really liked it
2004- It's during 1942 when little Esther Rudomin's life changes forever. A resident of Poland, who lived a comfortable life with her parents and extended family, Esther, along with her father, mother and grandparents are arrested by the Russians, suspected of being ""capitalists"" and ripped from their home. They are piled into cattle cars, their destination unknown. When the train finally stops, they realize they are in the harsh region of Siberia. For the next long five years, Esther recounts ...more
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“What I ate for breakfast on school mornings was one buttered roll--a soft roll, not a hard roll--and one cup of cocoa; any attempt to alter this menu I regarded as a plot to poison me.” 4 likes
“I told her what I knew, that soldiers were in Grandfather Solomon's house, that Tata went there in his pajamas. "In his pajamas?" she asked, as if this was the most terrifying fact of all.” 0 likes
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