Erika's Story by Ruth Vander Lee

Type: Book

Erika's Story is a nonfiction picturebook, or biography, that tells the powerful story of Erika, a German, Jewish survivor of the Holocaust during World War II. The author's note at the beginning of the story explains how the book came about:

"In 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, I met the woman in the story. My husband and I were sitting on a curb in Rothenburg, Germany, watching a clean-up crew gather shards of broken roof tile from the city hall. A small tornado had ripped through this lovely medieval village the night before and scattered rubble everywhere. An elderly merchant standing nearby was telling us that the storm left as much devastation as the last Allied attack of the war."

"When the merchant went back to tending his store, the lady sitting next to us introduced herself as Erika. . . . I noticed she was wearing a Star of David on a gold chain around her neck, so I mentioned that after our stay in Israel . . . we had driven through Austria and visited the concentration camp in Mathausen. Erika told me that she had one time gotten as far as the entrance to Dachau but could not bear to enter."

"Then she told me her story . . . "