A Hidden Jewish Child from Belgium is the testimony of Francine Lazarus. She survived the Second World War in Belgium hidden with strangers, isolated from her family, and moved from place to place. Francine was a witness to murder and was often injured herself. With her father murdered in Auschwitz, her story continues post-war with the young Francine, neglected and and abused by her family, being sent into foster care, and only commencing schooling aged eight. Formal education was abandoned under protest at 13 years old when she was forcibly sent to work. Like most child Survivors, she was told to forget about her war experiences. After involuntary migration to Australia her life began to improve. She created a loving family and, in middle age, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
This book is particularly valuable because the author shares her memories, emotions and introspection, and relates them to the existing literature on Hidden Children. Research on her life, family and their history (including books, papers, archives and museum documents) is interspersed throughout the book, offering a detailed portrayal of her situation, which was marked by trepidation, tribulation, and intense trauma. The description of her reconstruction and self-healing process is rare in existing literature, especially one so well expressed by a Survivor herself. Her immigration, part of the recovery process, is a fascinating and under-researched topic, and allows a unique insight into post-war expatriation.