What World is Left; Monique Polak

Kristine Beaumont

General Summary

What World is Left tells the story of a young girl named Anneke Van Raalte who is sixteen years old. Before she was transported to a labor camp called Theresienstadt, she grew up in Holland in a bigger house where her and her family were very fortunate. Anneke's father was a famous artist, and because of his talent they were the lucky ones. Anneke and her family lived 3 years in the wretched living Theresienstadt provided for them. The young teen and her family knew they were Jewish but were not all that religious, leaving Anneke confused about her identity of being Jewish, and why she was chosen. In the book, she finds out that a persons smile could make her gray days brighten for a just a little. Despite the starvation for real food, and the bed bugs they sleep with every night, there was still little hope living in the heart of Anneke, as she learns to survive. She finds out how much she despises the Nazis and their hoax of their so called "model city" they put on for the Danish Red Cross. By the end of the war, her family are they very last people standing in the labor camp, leaving the Russian investigators surprised, and even a little impressed.

What world is left

What I have Learned..

When I finished the last page of this outstanding novel, I realized big things I never even knew about the Holocaust and its doings. First of all, the young girl talks about how they would wash their clothes between every 6 weeks; I never thought about how important clean laundry is. "Because of the shortage of clean water we are only permitted to wash clothes every six weeks-and then only up to four kilograms of laundry." Second, I also learned that the Nazis would put on acts for the Red Cross who would come and inspect the labor camps; doing this by building fake play grounds and fake shops for the one day they came. "The Nazis are expecting important visitors-representatives from the Danish Red Cross. They want Theresienstadt to appear to be the model city they've boasted about." Lastly, I learned that the Nazis would give each child a box with names on them; not knowing they were full of peoples actually ashes, making them throw them into the river. "The children standing closest to the riverbank confirm what the rest of us suspect, the cardboard boxes contain ashes. Powdery gray human ashes."

Qoutes from Anneke

Anneke Van Raalte was grown up to be a optimistic person, which in Theresienstadt is a very rare quality because of the horrible living conditions set in the "model city". (pg.47) "That's you Anneke, always making light of things. We couldn't be more different, could we?" Anneke is her own person. She believes in telling what is right and wrong, and telling the truth, not really caring for the consequences. As quoted, (pg.214) "I'm sorry if I have made things even harder for Father. But I couldn't help myself. I had to let him know how I felt about what he was doing. I had to stand up for what I believed was right, I suppose I had to learn." Anneke is a very grieved girl with a mind constantly filling with questions, she is constantly confused about the world around her. (pg.163) "I feel like falling to my knees weeping. I feel like giving up. If no one ever learns the truth about Theresienstadt, what difference will it make if I do give up?"


As I read What World is Left, I kept thinking about being in Anneke's shoes. I kept on thinking that If I was her, would I have survived to be as strong as she was? To the different situations that take place in this novel, I could never be as strong as these people who survived and those who lived in these awful places. If I were living in a constant threat, I honestly don't think I could manage risky tasks Anneke and her family take on during the story. The author puts situations in this book that make you really think. For example, Anneke's younger brother Theo was put on a transport list to leave on a train to head towards a much worse camp than Theresienstadt; a death camp. Like Anneke, when I think of my younger brother, I think that he is a nuisance more than anything. But when it comes to loosing someone who is related to you and morally, someone you grew up with all your life you can't imagine life without them.

When push comes to shove, you really have to look at the important aspects of your life. What is more important, loosing a family member or loosing a friend? Anneke is really put to the test when a Nazi storms into her room asking where her father's art pieces are. When she goes to show the Nazi, she notices a piece of art that was painted and signed by a friend of hers. She decides if she should show them that art piece of her friends or one of her fathers. Being in a situation where you have to think fast is not easy. But for me, my family comes first over everything. Everything I have learned about the Holocaust, I learned first that these people were put to a test of life or death on in any split second. Finally, I think it is very important to read and learn about this tragic time in our history like What World is Left so we can understand what life really was like during these times.


I would definitely recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning about the Holocaust, and the labor camp Theresienstadt. Even though the main character and her family do not go through as much as others did, it gives us an actual surivivers story of her time as being in Theresienstadt during the Holocaust. I would recommend this book to mature readers that can handle some of the situations that actually took place. I think people should read this outstanding novel because I could not put it down. It is so interesting with its real life situations. I have learned a lot of what really happened to this women who was a real survive.