The facts alone would be enough to make Childhood an extraordinary and important book, but Jona Oberski presents them in such a way that he creates a deeply affecting literary work.
The author describes the experiences of a young Jewish boy between the ages of four and seven, deported from the Netherlands along with his parents during the German occupation. This personal history is particularly moving for being portrayed through the eyes of a young child who has absolutely no idea what is happening to him. The boy thinks he is on a journey to the Promised Land.
Oberski deliberately declines to offer any interpretation. Even the most terrible and tragic events are described, without comment, from the perspective of the naive child observer. The boy registers all the gruesome things around him in short, simple sentences, stripped of all emotion, and it is this that makes the book so hard hitting: it intimates the larger tragedy by focusing on the boy’s innocent perception.