Sunday, September 19, 2021

Traitors Among Us (Don't Tell the Nazis #3)

Skrypuch, Marsha. Traitors Among Us (Don't Tell the Nazis #3)
September 7th 2021 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

After their Ukranian village is occupied by the Soviets and then the Nazis in Don't Tell the Nazis, and they manage to survive the war after leaving in Trapped in Hitler's Web, sisters Krystia and Maria are relieved to be in a refugee camp in the American Zone in 1945 and hope to soon be with their aunt in Canada. Their relief is short lived; Sophie Huber is also in the camp, and tells soldiers that the two girls are Nazi collaborators. The Red Army are all too ready to believe this, and happy to arrest the girls and torture them to get information. They do this with others as well, including Sophie, and many sign confessions that are untrue to make the torture stop, or in the belief that once they confess, they will be released. This is not the case, and the girls are glad they did not sign confessions. After the soldiers stage a fake execution to try to get Krystia to confess, Maria is let go with orders to report to a Soviet work camp. Instead, she is helped by Birgit, who hides her, feeds her, and helps her wash up and get new clothing so that she looks like one of the locals. Along with father and son Elias and Finn, the group works together to get Krystia and Mychailo out of the prison, tempting guards with Linzer cookies spiked with sleeping powder. From there, the sisters must try to make it to the American zone and hope that they will be sent on to Canada to resettle. 
Strengths: It still surprises me how many different WWII stories there are out there, so it makes sense that there are just as many stories about experiences after the war. I didn't know the details about the Red Army and their treatment of prisoners; there is a lot of brutal torture in this; it's not like Moskin's I am Rosemarie (1972) where the war ends, prisoners are released from concentration camps, and they walkout into the sunshine. The sisters' relationship is strong but strained at times, and their survival skills are top notch. My favorite scene was when Maria is given German clothing and must sew an outfit for herself, making a jumper from a Hitler Youth girl's uniform skirt, a blouse from a ball gown, and woolen underpants from a Nazi flag! The details about the lack of food, the difficulty in traveling, and the kind people they meet in their journey all make this an enthralling read. 
Weaknesses: This ended a bit abruptly and went to an epilogue. I guess I was so invested in the story that I wanted to know more. 
What I really think: There are not that many books covering the aftermath of the Holocaust; Matas' After the War (1996) and The Garden (1997) and Whelan's After the Train (2009) as well as the nonfiction Waisman and McClelland's Boy from Buchenwald (2021) as well as Skrypuch's own Stolen Girl (2019), so it's good to see the conclusion of Krystia and Maria's story. I do wish that the publishers had an official name for this trilogy!

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