The Endless Steppe, by Esther Hautzig, was one of those books that sat in my sixth grade classroom library for years before I read it. I gave my sixth grade library to a friend recently, a new teacher just starting out, but I set this book aside, and I am happy to report that I finally read it. I’m so glad I did! It is a lovely little book, a memoir of Hautzig and her family during the Holocaust. She and her family survived because they were exiled to Siberia. Most of her other relatives that stayed in her beloved city of Vilna, Poland, did not survive. But as you can imagine, life in Siberia was harsh and survival was difficult.
“We spent nearly six years in Siberia,” Mrs. Hautzig wrote in “Remember Who You Are: Stories About Being Jewish,” a 1990 collection of childhood reflections. “I went to school there, made friends, learned how to survive no matter what life brought.”
This book, and Esther Hautzig, left a powerful impression on me. It’s a beautifully written story, and she was a beautiful, compassionate person. It is a story of the strength of love and family, of hope, and of the resilience of the human spirit.
The world lost Esther Hautzig last November. There were some lovely tributes paid her at that time. You can click on the links below to read two of them.