At twenty I didn’t know anything. About that time I had a Jewish boyfriend named Alain who lived with his parents in a wealthy area of town. I had lived in the surburbs all my life and he was only the second Jew I had ever been friends with. His parents spoke French at home so I assumed that they were from France, but it never occurred to me that they might have survived concentration camps. Years later I read in the newspaper that Alain’s father had found the brother he had been separated from at Auschwitz fifty years before. It shook me up to have to superimpose the grainy photos of concentration camp survivors that I’d seen in books and magazines on the man I remembered, and to realize that the holocaust was not history but part of the modern world. Now Michel Mielnicki, with John Munro, has written Bialystok to Birkenau: The Holocaust Journey of Michel Mielnicki (Ronsdale & Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre). Mielnicki grew up in Bialystock, Poland, a community of Poles, Russians and Germans where even before the war he was surrounded by vicious anti-Semitism. Mielnicki lost both his parents the day they arrived at Auschwitz , but he and his brother and sister managed to survive the war, even though they were separated for many years. This is Michel’s story, the story of a fifteen-year-old boy who survived by good luck and constant vigilance, even during his time at Birkenau, a place where “the Nazis had created a subterranean world . . . inhabited by scurrying, craven little beings like myself, ruled by diabolic, troll-like creatures beyond the imagination of even a Tolkien.” The difference between what I knew at twenty and what Michel Mielnicki must have known could fill a whole life.