In the summer of 1939, twelve year old Jack Mandelbaum lives a comfortable life with his loving, hard-working family in the port city of Gdynia (ga-DIN-ya), Poland. Like most boys his age, he goes to school, plays sports, and occasionally gets into mischief, and as Jack’s thirteenth birthday approaches, his family, being Jewish, begins to prepare their son for his bar mitzvah. Overall, Jack enjoys his childhood and thinks nothing about the fact that he is a Jew.
But within a few months, Jack’s whole world turns upside down as Nazi troops swarm into Poland. Soon, the conquering Germans begin to round up the country’s Jews and ship them off to work…or to die. Helplessly, Jack is taken away from his family and forced to work. All the while, Jack tries to remain positive and hopeful that he will survive the war and be reunited with his family once again. “‘Think of this as a game, Jack,’” a fellow prisoner has told him. “‘Play the game right and you might outlast the Nazis.’”
For the next three years, Jack battles brutally hard work, sickness, and near starvation in order to “beat…Hitler at his game”. And at times, when things seem hopeless for him, something always happens to restore his will to fight on.
Based on the accounts of Jack and other Holocaust survivors, Surviving Hitler reveals a sad and frightening look at man’s inhumanity to man, and the undying hope of a boy who refuses to be brought down by hatred and bigotry.