Clara's War

By Clara Kramer

Development

Setting advances the plot of the story because Clara and the rest of her family are in a bunker during the war, showing the danger of the Nazi's arrival. For example, many times in the story it describes a dark, dangerous area for the families to shelter in. "We didn't have time to run to the hiding place in the factory. Instead, we crawled through the bedroom trapdoor to the tomb under the Melman's house. The darkness was suffocating. I wasn't prepared for the closeness, the terrifying darkness and the smell of damp earth." This shows how horrible the living conditions were in the hiding places, and even though they are bad, they must hide there anyways to avoid being found. It also shows that the families would rather suffer in the terrible conditions than risk being caught. For most of the book, the setting of the story is in a dark, dirty and cramped living space beneath the house. The setting shows the danger of the Nazi's arrival and how the families had to survive in their hiding places when they came. The setting also meant possible sickness for the families, but they would rather risk becoming sick than be caught. For example, "We were frightened of lice and typhus, and knew that survival depended on keeping as clean as we could, despite the dirt we would be living in." This shows how while the setting is key to their survival, it is also dangerous at the same time.

Theme advances the plot of the story because the author, Clara Kramer added photos of the underground shelter and images of the actual events inside the book to show how the book is a real memoir, not a fictional story. For example, "Writing this book was like walking out of my kitchen door in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and straight into my home in Zolkiew. Although the events in this book happened over 60 years ago, they have never left me. As with many survivors, I relive them in the present." This reminds readers that this is a memoir. One of the important themes in Clara's War is the evil of the Nazis and the SS. For example, "It's the 20th century. It's unbelievable. They pulled trucks below a window and threw people and children into the trucks. Some of the Gestapo were using axes." This shows the evil of the Nazis and what they did to the Jews. Another example, "On the assigned day, as the remaining Jews assembled in the front of the store on Sobieski Street, where the food was to be delivered, there was no bread. There were only the killing squads from Lvov." This also shows the important theme of the evil of the Nazis.

Character Anaysis

In the story, the main character, Clara, is brave. For example, "I heard my voice telling my father that I could get her back. I heard my father asking how, and then I was telling my father that I could talk to Beck." This shows that she is willing to risk her safety by arguing with Beck, the man sheltering her. She would also be risking being kicked out of the house. Another example is, "It was eight at night when we left. Ala said we had nothing to worry about. She repeated that we were just two girls out for a good time in Zolkiew. I had taken off the armband. My heart was beating so loud I was afraid it would wake the dead in the cemetery." This shows that even though Clara is risking getting caught out in the open and possibly killed, she is still going out to get her mother.

In the story, the main character, Clara, is also very caring. For example, "Whatever would be pleaded, begged, or argued on the children's behalf would be pleaded, begged, or argued by me. I crawled up into the bedroom and he slammed the hatch door down after me. He wouldn't look at me, perhaps to avoid seeing the pleading look in my eyes." This shows how Clara cares so much for the children, and how she doesn't want them to be kicked out of the house and die. Another example is, "Zygush was old enough to be counted on to be quiet. But of course we couldn't condemn Zosia to her death and take Zygush without his sister. How I hated the Nazis for making even think such a grotesque thought." This proves how Clara cares for both of the children and wants them to stay.

Pan or Praise?

I would recommend this book because it shows the real danger of the holocaust and it gives a first-person view on the actual events that happened during the time. The author, Clara Kramer, is the actual main character in the story, and she writes based on her memories of the real events she witnessed. For example, "Writing this book was like walking out of my kitchen door in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and straight into my home in Zolkiew. Although the events in this book happened over 60 years ago, they have never left me." The book also received some good reviews. An example of this is; "A superlative war memoir of survival....Few wartime memoirs convey with such harrowing immediacy the evil of the Nazi genocide." - Daily Telegraph (London)