Shadow of His Hand

Written by Wendy Lawton
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Anita Dittman dreams of becoming a ballerina. She is talented and her family is financially comfortable. But she is a little girl, half-Jewish and half-Christian, in a Germany that is seething with hatred for her mother’s people. There is no future in dancing for Anita.

Anita, her Jewish mother and sister are abandoned by their Aryan father who wishes nothing further to do with them – how can he afford to be allied to his own family and by so doing, destroy his own future? Little by little, everyone and everything that Anita, her sister and mother know are chipped away until they have barely enough to survive. Their salvation comes in the form of a priest who tries to help them to leave Germany. While they wait for their papers, and as the inevitability of the concentration camps looms before them, they turn more and more to Christianity and find their strength in their spiritual lives, in prayer and in faith.

This is the true story of Anita Dittman who, together with her mother and sister, remarkably survived the Holocaust by the sheer presence of their will, and Anita clearly believes, divine intervention. The book is appropriate for mature children ages 8-12 and is inspirational in theme. A sophisticated child will learn a great deal about guts and survival from Anita Dittman, regardless of the child’s religious upbringing. A caveat however: A Jewish family may well feel uncomfortable with the message that this book appears to deliver—that Anita survived because she became a Christian.