Reviews /

Fritz and Kurt

Authored by Jeremy Dronfield
Illustrated by David Ziggy Greene
Published by Penguin Random House Children's UK

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Jeremy Dronfield has re-written his book The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz for children. He has also added in further information that he found out after writing his first book, so Fritz and Kurt is an updated, simplified version. He has included explanations as footnotes of Jewish words and historical events to aid the reader.

This is a true story about the Kleinmann family, with the main focus being on the sons, Fritz and Kurt. The family live in Vienna and we find out what happens after Hitler is declared the leader of Austria. We are told through the story how Jews were treated and how the family managed as war breaks out.

Fritz chooses to join his father, Gustav, when he is taken to a work camp, as he can’t bear to be parted from him. The story moves between the tale of their lives in various concentration camps and that of Kurt, the younger son, who was transported to America to start a new life.

It is an incredibly moving book, with many harrowing details and scenes. Whilst not glossing over them, it doesn’t go into too much detail. It does highlight the many kindnesses that were shown to Fritz and Gustav during their time in various concentration camps, and this is a great positive to take from reading it. The author has painstakingly researched the family’s history and got to talk to Kurt about his story and life in America.

Fritz and Kurt would be a good introduction to Jewish history during World War Two and the Holocaust for older KS2 children. Published to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day at the end of January, it would accompany this topic well and highlight this extraordinary story of willpower, determination and courage.