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  • Location: Warsaw, Germany, Berlin

The Survivors

The Survivors

Why a Booktrail?

1945: Even once rescued, those in a postwar Displaced Persons Camp were trapped…

  • ISBN: 978-1471172274
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja have walked for weeks to get to Graufeld Displaced Persons camp. In the cramped, dirty, dangerous conditions they, along with 3,200 others, are the lucky ones. They have survived and will do anything to find a way back home.

But when Klara recognises a man in the camp from her past, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins.

He knows exactly what she did during the war to save her daughter.

She knows his real identity.

What will be the price of silence? And will either make it out of the camp alive?

Travel Guide


Most of the novel takes place in a typical Displaced Persons Camp Called Graufeld.

“The camp for displaced persons was called Graufeld. It’s German from Grey Field. Exactly the right word for the grey world that swallows us here, a twilit existence suspended somewhere between day and night, its edges blurred”

It’s here in this Displaced Persons Camp (fictional but modelled on many real camps) that Klara and her daughter must try to survive. The war is over – well the fighting is over – but the ruin, the loss, the pain and the lack of homes to go to is not. People are ‘stored’ here like cattle. They have a little freedom but hardly any food and don’t know where their friends and family are. They are waiting. Waiting to go home, find a new home, waiting to start the rest of their lives. Waiting for….it’s been so long, some of them don’t seem to know any more.

“We were the dregs of Europe”

These camps, as Graufeld in the book, are not nice places. Germans involved in the war, Nazis of al descriptions might find themselves here along with the people they once tortured. Klara recognises a man from her past in the camp. How do you deal with such danger in close proximity when you hoped the worst was over?It’s a cruel cruel trap.

Warsaw, Poland

We see flashbacks of Klara’s memories of her city:

“ I grieved for my beautiful city, so much of it scarred and in ruins now; and I grieved for the spectral beggars who hunted the streets and who were frequently shot at random just for being an eyesore. If the cold and the hunger didn’t do it for them, the bullet would.”

Berlin, Germany

Berlin was a city in ruins. The guts had ben ripped out of tilt. As I moved, appalled through the rubble, I grieve for the starving city. It was not Berlin’s fault that it had fallen into the hands of a madman whose dream it was to own the world.”

Streetview Maps

C) Poland - Warsaw - Warsaw Castle
I) Germany - Berlin - Glienicker Brücke

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Until this book, I can’t say I’d read a novel quite like it which described the post war conditions of those who survived the war. I’ve read books about the conditions in Auschwitz etc and other camps and indeed in Jewish ghettos but this story about the Displaced Persons camp was new and utterly fascinating if not grim and heartbreaking at the same time.

It’s set largely inside such a camp. The people there come from all walks of life and I was horrified to learn that a woman or man tortured during the war by the Nazis could now be forced to live with them in one of these camps supposedly where they were waiting to be rescued . These camps were not safe places but rather waiting rooms of sorts and the struggles of Klara to keep herself and her daughter safe are phenomenal. She recognises a man from her past there, and they both know secrets about each other which could get them killed. They are each others enemies and the stakes are high.

I was  on tenterhooks throughout reading this. The underlying tension bubbled to the surface frequently but it was during the quiet bits that I was most afraid for Klara and her daughter. Interestingly, both get a voice here ,and I think it works really well to have both the mother and the child try work out the world around them. Both excellently written and brave people. Klara’s past, told through flashbacks just shows how people during wartime had to do anything to survive and these faces, masks were hard to hide afterwards.

It’s moving, emotional and traumatic all at once. Heartbreaking yet one character in particular shows that humanity can lie in the most unexpected of places.


Booktrail Boarding Pass:  The Survivors

Destination : Warsaw, Berlin, Germany  Author/Guide: Kate Furnivall  Departure Time:1945

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