The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin

by Susan Goldman Rubin and Ela Weissberger

As a child, Ela Stein was a Jewish prisoner in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp... read more

As a child, Ela Stein was a Jewish prisoner in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where a number of noted Jewish artists and musicians were held. The artists looked for ways to work closely with the children, and Ela, who had a fine singing voice, was one of the children selected to perform in a children’s opera called Brundibár, cast in the role of the cat. The character of Brundibár is a caricature of Adolf Hitler, and the opera lifted the spirits of prisoners every time it was performed. Despite the opera’s political overtones, Nazi leaders didn’t object. They arranged a performance for the Red Cross, successfully fooling that organization into believing Terezin was a model of how they treated Jews. (A few months later, the Nazi’s stepped up transports from Terezin to the death camps, and many musicians and performers were among those sent.) Susan Goldman Rubin worked closely with Ela (Stein) Weissberger to write this compelling volume that chronicles Ela’s experiences at Terezin as a prisoner and as a performer. Moving final chapters describe Ela’s efforts to locate friends from Terezin, as well as her efforts to educate young people about the Holocaust. Numerous photographs provide a rich visual accompaniment to Ela’s story. (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2007

show less