When little Leibish was eight years old, his world came to an end.
It had been a wonderful world, the secure and peaceful world of Chassidic Budapest. And now, in an instant, it was gone. The Nazis had arrived, and Leibish and his family were brutally thrust into a world where life hung in the balance each day, where almost no one could be trusted, where British bombers rained down destruction while Gestapo officers lurked in shadows, watching for hidden Jews.
With all the many Holocaust histories and memoirs written in the past years, surprisingly few focus on what it was like to be a child during those dark years - for the painful reason that so few children remained to tell the story. Arye Leibish Friedman, scion of a fine Bobover family, was one of those few lucky ones. And he has a remarkable story to tell.
Reb Leibish Friedman turned to Nachman Seltzer, the author whose gift for bringing extraordinary true stories to life has won him wide acclaim, to tell the tale of little Leibish and his family. And what a story it is. We follow Leibish as, with the wide-eyed wonder of childhood, he watches the rescue operation in his living room. We see how Leibish's violin saves his cousin from the Gestapo, how Leibish's aunt bluffs her way into Gestapo headquarters to save Leibish's baby sister. We marvel at Leibish himself, the eight-year-old who transforms himself from a little Chassidic boy with long payos to Istvan, a gentile lad whose father is fighting for the Nazi cause.
A Child of War is a testament to one young boy's courage and determination to survive, a haunting and dramatic tale of faith, miracles, and love.