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ESCAPE TO THE FOREST Based on a True Story of the Holocaust







Written By: Ruth Yaffe Radin

Illustrated By: Janet Hamlin

Presentation By: Preston Chey

Class: Social Studies

Due Date: 4/24/17

Published: 2000


Sarah: A young Jewish girl who is seven years old and lives in a town called Lida in Belarus. She is a very cheerful and smart girl who lives with her brother David, her mother, her father, and a friend Lili. She is courageous and brave as she faces many hardships throughout her life. She doesn't look very Jewish, as her "fair" blond hair makes her look German(Radin, 2000).


David: A Jewish boy in his late teens (nine-teen-years-old) who lives in a town called Lida in Belarus. He Lives with his sister Sarah, his mother, his father, and a friend Lili. He is brave and inspiring as he makes sacrifices for others. He is also hardworking, as he works as a locksmith and engineer. 


Mom: A Jewish mother of two who lives in a town called Lida in Belarus. She lives with her two children(Sarah and David), her husband, and a family friend (Lili). She is very caring and loving as she does things to benefit others that don't benefit her. She is strong and intelligent as she does what she can to give her children good lives.


Dad: A Jewish Father of two who lives in a town called Lida in Belarus. He lives with his two children(Sarah and David), his wife, and a family friend(Lili). He is also very caring and loving he works hard to help his family have a good life. As well, he is very strong and intelligent as he gives what he earns to help his family and has to sacrifice things for them to have good lives.


Lili: A Jewish girl who lost her family because of the Russian invasion, and is now living in a town called Lida in Belarus. She lives with a family of four (a mother, a father, a son named David, and a daughter named Lili), who she only just met. She is nine-teen-years-old and she sells cloth for a living. She is very loving and caring towards others, just as the family she's living with is. She is a hard worker, is very nice, and does kind things for others despite who they are.







Chicava: A peasant farmer outside the town of Lida in Belarus. She was a tall and thin lady who always went to Sarah and her family's house to "pick up clothes, curtains, and bedding to wash before Winter", and she also told stories about an enchanted forest. She also looked mean with her old skin, but was really very nice. She is a caring old woman who supplied food to Jewish people who could afford it. 


Anna and Michal: A kind couple who lived in the town of Lida in Belarus. They were family friends of Sarah's family, who were always nice to them and would talk to them sometimes. They are also very generous as they help people when they are in need. 


Riva and her family: She was a young Jewish girl about the same age as Sarah, who was friends with Sarah's family. Her family and Sarah's family knew each other and became friends, as they were all very nice people. She has two brothers, and one was named Hersh who was David's age. 


Aunt Ida and Uncle Sol: They are Sarah's parent's siblings (Sarah's Aunt and Uncle), who live on the countryside of Belarus, outside of Lida. They have a son named Josef who is twelve, and they all live together on the edge of Lida. They are caring, and generous to allow people to stay with them, when they are in trouble. 


Aunt Sonia and her family: They are a family of six who are related to Sarah and her family and live in a town called Lida in Belarus. Uncle Max (Aunt Sonia's husband) was nice and caring, but was taken by the Germans. Aunt Sonia and her four children, Jake, Josh, and their sisters, are very nice and innocent children, who are loving to their families.


Tuvia Bielski: A partisan who, instead of joining the Russians, formed a group hidden in a forest, that saved as many Jews as they could. He was very brave, couragous, and driven, as he lead a resistance and helped save many Jewish people.




 There are multiple settings in the story "ESCAPE TO THE FOREST", but the opening setting, is in the Fall of 1939, and it features a cold night in Lida in Belarus, at the main character's house. As well, throughout the book, it describes many places in the town of Lida, such as at schools, at markets, various stores and shops, etc. Then the next setting, takes place in the Winter of 1939-1940 in Lida in Belarus, as well at the main character's house. The narrator describes the weather as cold and harsh, and how the warmth of their house is great. After that, the next major setting takes place in the Spring of 1940 in Lida in Belarus(at the main character's house), where the snow has all melted, the grass is starting to grow, and the weather is becoming warmer. Moving on, into the Fall of 1940 in Lida in Belarus (at the main character's house, and at school), the weather once again becomes cooler, and school starts up again, so that's where a few scenes will take place. Although once school ends in the Summer of 1941, in Lida in Belarus, the weather gets warmer, but attacks on Lida (from Germany) brings the story outside of town to the main character's relative's house. Continuously, the main characters go back to Lida in Belarus, and stay at another relatives house, and even though the weather is hot, the times are not (the family is going through tough times). Furthermore, in the Fall of 1941, in Lida in Belarus, the main characters are forced into homes (by the Germans) on Suwalska street, that are tight and uncomfortable, and are then moved to a building on Zawalna street which is much worse. All this time they are crammed in with other families and are forced to live in cold, harsh conditions where it is barely manageable. But they are more fortunate then others, as they have a stove and beds, even though they are smelly, hard and uncomfortable, others don't even have that much. 


 However, going on into the Spring of 1942 on Zawalna street, the conditions are worse as the weather is colder and there is horrible smells coming from the death of others (Jews). Plus, most are forced to do hard labor, and there are small food rations, making the conditions even worse, which are unimaginable to others. Throughout the rest of Spring and into the Summer of 1942, the main characters were moved into even smaller homes (on Czerwona Street) and were forced to share them with many other families, as well as eat less, and work harder. The setting got more glum as the days went on, and the conditions became indescribable. They went nowhere and stayed in their small homes most of the time for about a year. In the Fall of 1943 in Lida in Belarus (on Czerwona street), the conditions became unbearable, and so a few of the main characters took a risk of sneaking into the forest in hope of finding safety. They stayed in the forest for most of the time and (separated from the others) then made their way to a friend's house (Anna and Michal). At that point it was only the main character, and she would have to make it through many cold nights walking through unknown abandoned towns, with very little food or water. Until finally finding the resistance group hidden deep within the forest, where the conditions were substantially better and she was with some family.


The book "ESCAPE TO THE FOREST" by Ruth Yaffe Radin, is about a young Jewish girl (seven-years-old) named Sarah who is living a normal life with her family until the Fall of 1939, when the Russians invaded her town. Nothing too big changed, other than small things here and there, such as her family (Jews) not being allowed to shop in some stores, and having less rights and freedoms than before. Although little did she know, things were about to get much worse, and she couldn't do anything about it. Sarah lived with her brother David (nine-teen-years-old), her mother, her father, and a girl named Lili (the same age as David; lost her family in the invasion and had nowhere else to go), and they were all still living normal lives (for now). However as time went on, things got worse, such as many Jews losing their jobs, and not being able to get enough food because they were banned from markets. Sarah and her family were fortunate though, since they had farmer friends to give them food, and David (who was a locksmith) was of good use to the Russians so he had a job. Furthermore, as time went on, the Germans planned to invade Lida, causing Sarah to go live with relatives outside of town, leaving her family back home. The Germans bombed her town (and other towns) causing many casualties and steering away the Russians, leaving the Germans in control. But, Sarah and her family were ok, and now because of the invasion of the Germans, they all had to move to another relatives house leaving all their stuff behind. Now, the Germans were starting the "extermination" of the Jews, and so the horrible conditions were starting to roll in, such as less food, and harsh weather. Thankfully, the Germans found David useful to, and therefore he had a job unlike many others. On the other hand, his family and him were still Jews, and the Germans didn't care for them, so they began forcing them into small homes on the street of Suwalska, with even worse conditions.

Plot Summary

At this point, Sarah couldn't even go to school, and her family was forced to obey the Germans despite what they were doing to them. It had already been two years since the Russians first invaded Lida, and the living conditions of Sarah and her family had become much worse. Sadly, it would only get worse for Sarah and her family, so they just had to stay strong. Not to long after being put into homes on Suwalska Street, were they (the Jews; including Sarah and her family) forced to move into homes on Zawalna Street, with smaller spaces, and less furnature. Here, Sarah and her family (as well as many other families) had to work hard for nothing, and survive on the little food that they got, for months. Although, one day while David was working, (still working for the Germans) he overheard the Germans talking about a secret place in the forest that was safe for Jews, and was run by Tuvia Bielski (a partisan, who instead of joining the Russians, formed a group of people that help save Jews), who could possibly help his family. But his mother said it was too risky, and so they went on living in indescribable conditions, while David kept the thought still in his head. After a while the Germans called a selection (in which one line of Jews would survive, and the other line wouldn't), and Sarah and her family were in the death line, but, thinking quickly, David recognized a guard he worked for and asked him if they would spare his family, and that they did. So they lived and were then moved to a home on Czerwona Street, in which they shared with two other families, making the rooms always crowded.

Plot Summary

Sarah and her family lived here for about a half a year suffering through harsh weather, little food rations, and crammed spaces, while gaining information on Tuvia Bielski, and the organization he runs in the forest, from the other families. Days went by, the next worse than the last, and more stories came in about people who escaped and made it to the forest, and about people who were caught and executed. Eventually a day came when the Germans ordered the Jews to walk back to Suwalska street, in which they would all be put to death. Throughout the walk Sarah and her parents lost David and Lili, and could only if they made it to the forest. In the death line, Sarah saw a friend who was on her way to the forest, and Sarah's mother ordered her to go with her friend to the forest, and so she did (and would never see her parents again). As the two girls ran from the Germans in hope to escape to the forest, they lost each other, and Sarah was alone in this strange and vast forest. After walking through a lot of the forest, Sarah found her way through a town, to a family friend's house, in which they gave her food and shelter for the night. She left in the morning, and after venturing through the great forest, she started to lose hope, and could only think about her parents, and David and Lili. However, after just a little more walking, Sarah found her way to the secret place in the forest, run by Tuvia Bielski, and was finally safe. Plus, when she met Tuvia Bielski and talked to him for a while, he realized who she was, and brought her into a hut, where David and Lili sat. They were once again united, and would live to see the end of this horrible time (the Holocaust). For the first time in four years, Sarah was at last, free.

Plot Summary

My Opinion Of The Book


My opinion of the book "ESCAPE TO THE FOREST", is very positive, as I enjoyed reading it throughout the entire story. I think it is a great book, and that the author did an amazing job in creating this story, keeping it realistic and interesting at the same time. Usually when it comes to writing a book based on a true story, I lose interest as it tends to be a bit boring. However in this book, I was astounded to see what a good job the author (Ruth Yaffe Radin) did to keep me hooked (keep me reading). Plus, the way the author organized the book, keeps you wondering what's going to happen next, which ties into the great job they did at keeping you reading (as I said before). As well, not only is this story entertaining, it is very informative too, and it gives you a taste of what it was like living in the Holocaust. Therefore, I enjoyed reading this book and I think the author did a magnificent job at creating this story, and that they should write more just like it.

The book "ESCAPE TO THE FOREST" by Ruth Yaffe Radin, is an amazing book that tells a great story, and so I would recomend that other people read it. The reason why I would recomend that other people read it, is because the book is entertaining, keeps you interested, informs you, and gives you a sort of feeling of what it was really like to live in this time. Therefore I would recomend this book to anyone who is interested in the Holocaust, or anyone who wants to read a good book with a great story, in general. I can almost gaurantee that anyone who reads this book will be satisfied with the story they just read, because of how amazing I thought it was. Also, if I were to rate this book out of five stars, I would give it a full five because of the story, the organization of the book, the cliff hangers, and every other part of the book, as in saying it couldn't have been better. In all, I would recomend this book to anyone who enjoys reading, or is interested in realistic fiction, because I highly doubt that you would be unsatisfied.


About The Author

Author's name: Ruth Yaffe Radin


Born: 1938 in Hartford Connecticut


Age: 79 years-old


Books: "A Winter Place"(1982), "Tac's Island"(1986), "Tac's Turn"(1987), "High In The Mountains"(1989), "Carver"(1990), "All Joseph Wanted"(1991), "Morning Streets"(1993), "Morning Streets And From The Wooded Hill"(1993), "From The Wooded Hill"(1993), "Sky Bridges, And Other Poems"(1993), and "ESCAPE TO THE FOREST Based On A True Story Of The Holocaust"(2000).


Most Successful Book: "ESCAPE TO THE FOREST Based on a True Story of the Holocaust"




Citations Page


- Radin, Ruth Yaffe. ESCAPE TO THE FOREST Based on a True Story of the Holocaust. New York, New York: HarperCollins Children's , 2000. Print.

- "Ruth Yaffe Radin - Books, Biography, Contact Information." - Children's books, Teen books, Writers, Authors, Illustrators, Librarians, Agents, Editors, Publicists, Publishers, and Blogs. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2017. <>.