Impossible Escape: A True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe

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Modern Age

Impossible Escape: A True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe
Author: Sheinkin, Steve
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1940-1945
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: Poland
Topics: Holocaust, Auschwitz, Jewish Resistance
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Book
Published: 2023

World History > Modern Age > WWII / Holocaust

From three-time National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor author Steve Sheinkin, a true story of two Jewish teenagers racing against time during the Holocaust―one in hiding in Hungary, and the other in Auschwitz, plotting escape.

It is 1944. A teenager named Rudolf (Rudi) Vrba has made up his mind. After barely surviving nearly two years in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, he knows he must escape. Even if death is more likely.

Rudi has learned the terrible secret hidden behind the heavily guarded fences of concentration camps across Nazi-occupied Europe: the methodical mass killing of Jewish prisoners. As trains full of people arrive daily, Rudi knows that the murders won’t stop until he reveals the truth to the world―and that each day that passes means more lives are lost.

Lives like Rudi’s schoolmate Gerta Sidonová. Gerta’s family fled from Slovakia to Hungary, where they live under assumed names to hide their Jewish identity. But Hungary is beginning to cave under pressure from German Nazis. Her chances of survival become slimmer by the day.

The clock is ticking. As Gerta inches closer to capture, Rudi and his friend Alfred Wetzler begin their crucial steps towards an impossible escape.

This is the true story of one of the most famous whistleblowers in the world, and how his death-defying escape helped save over 100,000 lives.

Emily's Review

This book was absolutely riveting. If you, like me, read The Librarian of Auschwitz and wanted to know more about Rudi Vrba, then you will definitely want to read this book!

I love Sheinkin's writing—he has a gift for pulling you into a story and keeping you on the edge of your seat. Rudi was inspiring and incredibly brave. I'm so glad I finally picked this up. Books like this are so important. I've said it a million times, but we need to read more books about Jewish resistance! There are way too many stories written about Jews dying or requiring the help of outsiders, but there were many Jews out there fighting for their survival in both big and small ways. What Rudi was able to do was astounding and more people ought to know about him.

I also really appreciated the discussion at the end of the book about Holocaust denial and how that ties into this story. Sheinkin asks some big questions throughout, but that section I thought, was really well done.

This book doesn't pull any punches, so I think it is best for ages 14+

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