Childhood Reprinted As Penguin Classic

By Anna Streetman | Editorial Intern

A haunting Holocaust autobiography has been reprinted for the first time in 20 years as a Penguin Classic.

Childhood reprinted by Penguin Classics

Childhood by Jona Oberski was originally published in April 1983 as Kinderjaren. The book recounts Oberski’s childhood, which was spent in the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Jona is a normal and happy child; he plays outside, tags along with his father to work, and will soon emigrate with his parents from Amsterdam to Palestine. He doesn’t even think twice about the yellow star his mother sews on his coat; “Look, now you’ve a pretty star, just like Daddy,” his mother says. Then, Jona and his family are awoken in the middle of the night by men with guns, and then put on a train. What seems to be merely dreary existence soon reveals itself as one of the worst horrors humanity has ever created.

Childhood was met with acclaim during its original publication. It was made into a movie and translated into 20 different languages. The book is dedicated to Oberski’s foster parents, who adopted him after his parents died during the war.

Oberski was born Match 20, 1938 in Amsterdam. When he was five years old, he and his parents were interred at Bergen-Belsen. Oberski survived the war, and went on to be a nuclear and particle physicist. He has several other published books. Today, he lives in Amsterdam with his wife and three children.

The Penguin Classic reprint was translated by Ralph Manheim from its original Dutch. It features an afterward by author and teacher Jim Shepard, a finalist for the National Book Award.

Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world for the past 65 years. Penguins focuses on bringing together the best of the past and the future, using cutting-edge design and production as well as embracing the digital age to create unforgettable editions of treasured literature.