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The Survivors


About the book

The Survivors is a story that takes place in Germany after the end of the second world war. It is about a young mother , Klara Janowska, and her ten year old daughter, Alicja, who have survived the war and are now known as displaced persons. They have lost their whole family and their home in the conflict ,and at the start of the story they are staying in a displaced person`s camp . They have both walked for weeks to find Graufeld Displaced Persons camp because Klara knew that it was the only way they could survive until they got back on their feet again.

One day while going about her daily life in the camp, Klara thought she saw a man who she recognised in the distance. She thought she had seen an old enemy from her war days . When she asked around after this man , nobody knew who he was because he had previously been an SS Officer and he was now known by a new name.

Klara and this nasty character have a long history and now Klara wonders if she and her daughter are as safe as she thought they would be at the camp. Klara had done some desperate things to be able to keep herself and her daughter alive throughout the war and now she was worried about the past catching up with her.

The Camp

When Klara and Alicja arrived at Graufeld Displaced Persons camp in the autumn of 1945 there were already three thousand and two hundred people living there. Conditions were very hard in the camp because of shortages and the overcrowded living conditions. All of the inmates were people who had lost everything during the war and had nowhere else to go.

There were people of all ages from young children to older people all sharing the same facilities. While there Klara made a friend called Hanna who ran the massive laundry on the camp. Hanna was very fussy about clean linen and ran the laundry like it was her own business.

The camp was at the time being run by the British army who looked after the inmates as well as they could. Everybody got bread and potatoes , clean linens and a roof over their heads. The people who lived in the camp were often envied by the residents of a nearby town . This was because the people of the town were all starving due to food shortages.

The relationships between the inmates and the local townspeople was not helped by children in the camp, including Alicja, going out on `missions' and stealing from them

The `Missions'

On certain nights, some of the children would be sent out on missions to go and steal from the nearby houses. They managed to escape from the camp through a drain hole . Klara would send Alicja on these missions but she was very strict about what Alicja and the other children could actually take from the houses.

They were not allowed to take garden forks or shovels because the people needed them to grow food. They were also not allowed to take any food from the kitchens. This was because Klara knew that the people they were stealing from still needed food to survive.

However, they were instructed to pick up anything that they could safely carry back to the camp , items that may be useful. Most items were stolen from garden sheds or outhouses because these were easier to steal from rather than having to enter a house.

These missions were dangerous for the children, but they were sent on them because if they got caught , they would not end up in a German prison as the adults would if they were caught stealing from the locals.

It was on one of these missions that Alicja got badly injured after nearly getting caught.

Useful information

The Survivors written by Kate Furnivall in 2018 , published by Simon &Schuster UK is a work of fiction.

The author has written several other books including

  • The Red Scarf
  • The Italian Wife
  • The White Pearl

My impression of the book

When I first saw my copy of this book I was looking around a used book stall at a local sale. The book stood out for me because I liked the cover. The image of a mother and daughter holding hands on the edge of what looked like a destroyed town caught my interest straight away. They both looked so forlorn and lost because there appeared to be only them and the clothes they were stood up in. So I looked at the book closer , read the description on the back and I decided to buy it.

I enjoyed reading the story because it has many interesting characters and an exciting plot. I particularly liked the characters that I wrote about in this review . They all showed enough courage and strength to be able to cope with their unfortunate lives.

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