The Missing


Michael Rosen grew up in Pinner, North London. His parents were teachers, his father served in the United States Army. Michael ‘loved listening to his stories about his time as a soldier’ and ‘the way he put on an American accent when he told them.‘ Michael could imagine his father’s stories.

However there was a silence about his father’s uncles and aunts who’d ‘stayed in Poland‘ or ‘migrated to France’. His father’s family did not know what had happened to them during the Holocaust but suggested they’d died ‘in the camps./ ‘What camps?’ thought Michael.

He examines why the Nazis  put the Jews, amongst other ethnicities and minorities, into the camps, and why they were killed during World War II. He considers, ‘Now they were gone.‘ He explains how the Jews were scapegoated for Germany’s problems during the 1920’s crash, that this group of people were held to account in a racist tirade that became a movement. Michael Rosen explains how any groups of people who had something ‘wrong’ with them were rounded up, alongside Roma, and people who stood up against the Nazi movement. He concludes, ‘ about 15 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Nearly 6 million of these people were Jews.’  In ‘Counting’, one of the poems Michael Rosen has included within his memoir, he considers ‘If you forget the numbers./If you forget the names. If you forget the faces….’ 

We are invested in the history of Michael Rosen’s family and his search, while we learn about the Holocaust and World War II, We want his cousin Michael, his aunt and uncles ‘only child’ to survive. We want Madame Bobières to resist the knock on the door of her lodging house that Martin is not discovered by the French police officers.

‘The Missing‘ is a calm. informative narrative such as has been absent from our bookshelves. It is an essential book for home and school.

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The Missing

The True Story of My Family in World War II

Michael Rosen

(Walker Books)

The Missing is the story of the family of former children’s laureate, Michael Rosen. ‘What happened to them all- the brothers and sisters in Poland and France?’ I asked./ Dad shrugged. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. – ‘I suppose they died in the camps.’ / in the camps,’ I thought,’ What camps?’ 
Michael Rosen begins his quest to find Stella, Bella, Genia and Willi, then Oscar and Martin. His father suggests that one was a clock-mender and the other a dentist.  What can Michael find out from his father’s uncle who’d migrated to America? Furthermore, what happened to Stella’s only son, Michael, who was just seventeen when Poland was invaded by the Nazis.
Alongside explaining the camps, Michael Rosen sets out the background, ‘rationale’ and implementation of the Nazi annihilation of the Jews in Europe. How did this affect his family? What happened to those ‘disappeared’? Can he discover and remember them?
We know Michael Rosen best as the writer of poetry and fiction such as Wiggly Wiggly or Dread CatThe Missing is a comprehensive, clear explanation of the Holocaust through a family’s experiences. It is a necessary title for readers of all ages.


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