Riveting and compelling, The Wall tells the inspiring story of forty men and women who escape the dehumanizing horror of the Warsaw ghetto. John Hersey's novel documents the Warsaw ghetto both as an emblem of Nazi persecution and as a personal confrontation with torture, starvation, humiliation, and cruelty-a gripping and visceral story, impossible to put down.
Soon after taking Warsaw, the Nazis evicted all non-Jews from a designated area, and required all Jews not already living there to move there. A governing council, the Judenrat, was established, and the area was walled in, using the labor of the Ghetto's inhabitants. At its height over 400,000 Jews were contained within an area of slightly more than one square mile.
The novel takes us from the confiscation of Jewish businesses, to the mass deportations of 1942 (when 250,000+ Jews were sent to the camps), to the final uprising in April 1943, when the few Jews remaining in the Ghetto, massively outnumbered and outarmed, fought valiantly. Overall, the death toll of Ghetto residents was approximately 300,000 Jews executed by gas or bullet, with an additional 92,000 dying of starvation, disease, and in the uprising.
The book is presented as a rediscovered journal intended to record as many of the experiences and events of the Ghetto as possible, from beginning to end. Each entry begins with a date for the entry, a date for the occurrence, and the name of the person who related the event to Noah, who was keeping the journal, and sometimes other explanatory matter. I found this technique to be disruptive to the narrative flow. Otherwise, this is a very good book.