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The Underground Reporters

by Kathy Kacer

In August 1940, a group of Jewish youth in the Czech village of Budejovice, barred by the Nazis from almost all everyday activities, came together to start a community newspaper. Called Klepy, the newspaper began as a three-page collection of jokes and poems, and grew, by its 22nd and final issue, to 25 pages produced by the town’s accomplished young artists, writers, and reporters. Though only one copy was made of each issue, the paper was passed around and avidly read by Jewish adults as well as children, giving them a sense of community, humour, and resistance. Before being deported to Terezin, Ruda Stadler, Klepy’s founding editor, took the newspapers for safekeeping to his family’s Christian housekeeper, who gave them to Stadler’s sister after the war. John Freund, a Torontonian who was one of the few Klepy reporters to survive, contacted novelist and Holocaust educator Kathy Kacer after photocopying all of the paper’s issues. The several pages of the paper featured here illustrate the youths’ astonishing degree of talent and spirit.

In bringing to light this forgotten history, Kacer tells the story not only of Klepy but also of Freund, his family, and his friends, most of whom never returned from the camps. While all these stories are interesting and poignant, they create confusion and information overload— – I had trouble keeping track of all the individuals and how they related to the paper and to each other. Nor is this Kacer’s best prose; the writing feels flat, with too much repetition of words and sentence structures. However, readers age 9 to 13 will enjoy a story in which children their age created such a significant legacy