Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Jewish Family’s Untold Story
When far-flung cousins pooled their Jewish parents’ letters, they realized they had more than 600, plus diaries and other records. They could precisely document their parents’ escape from Nazi Germany. Here is this family’s intriguing and distressing biography, complete with evocative photos. One daughter came to the United States; another to Israel then Chile. The son’s fiancée used a forged document to get him released from Buchenwald, and the couple became Israeli citizens. The authors combine excerpts from the letters with the historical background to chronicle those survivors’ stories, which include the three siblings’ frantic attempts to save their mother, Selma, and their aunt, both of whom stayed behind and died in Treblinka. The authors note this was typical. Elders, especially elderly women, were more rooted in place and also less attractive to receiving countries, and so could not escape the way younger people could. A photo of Selma, visiting Tel Aviv in 1937, is heartbreaking. Genealogy charts show that she and the majority of her generation in this family died in 1941 or 1942. The book is an excellent resource for historical novelists and for anyone fascinated by the decade leading up to World War II in Germany.