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Otto Kraus

  • Original Title: THE CHILDREN'S BLOCK
  • Publication date: January 1994
  • Publisher: EBURY PRESS
  • Country: CZ
  • 223 print pages
  • Factual/Memoirs


  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 20th century, World War II
  • Location setting: Poland
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, Surpassing oneself, Looking back on one's life, Death, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Survival, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, War and other conflicts, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Discriminations, Totalitarian regime, Solidarity, Commitment, CHARACTERS, Child, Resilience, Facing failure


First published as THE PAINTED WALL, this autobiographical novel tells the story of 500 Jewish children who lived in the Czech Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau between September 1943 and June 1944, from the perspective of a Jewish man who tried to give them an education.


Translation rights sold: Portuga, Spain, Italy (offer)

Otto Kraus (1921-2000) is a Czech survivor from the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau during WWII. He was a teacher on the children’s block. He started writing fiction after the war and his novels have been published in the USA, Israel, Germany, France and the Czech Republic. Though it was many years before he felt able to write about this experience.


In this novel, Otto B. Kraus writes about his own experience in Auschwitz during WWII. Otto was one of the instructors in the children's block and his (future) wife, Dita, was the librarian for the children, of whom only a handfull survived. The book, which was originally named "The Diary", was written after the war. The story of a diary is but a literary introduction, yet the events described in the book are real.
THE PAINTED WALL tells the true story of 500 Jewish children who lived in the Czech Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau between September 1943 and June 1944. The children were kept on a Children's Block supervised by the notorious Dr. Mengele, where their instructors organized clandestine lessons, singalongs and even staged little plays and charades.
The Children's Block was intended to provide the Nazis with an alibi to refute the rumors of the Final Solution. As long as the Children's Block existed, it was a shelter and haven for the hundreds of children, who soon afterwards perished in the gas chambers.

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