Susannahcox's Reviews > The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia

The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig
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Jan 06, 08

Read in January, 2008

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 hunger, freezing cold, fierce storms, and the vast loneliness of the steppes are illuminated throughout the book with an enduring hope. Sustaining family relationships, humor, the kindness of friends, the honesty of the local population, and Esther's pride in surviving such harsh conditions make this an optimistic story despite the heartbreaking circumstances the Rudomins had to face.

I found her account of the sudden storm and the "homing beacon"--"Sh'mah Israel"--particularly compelling--almost a metaphor for the book.

I will be recommending this book to my two older daughters, especially as we approach this historical period in our studies.
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