"A moving and beautiful true story of love and friendship unfolds through letters written between two young people." from a review by Leslie Shafran in the Cleveland Jewish News 11/1/2012
Berman wrote regularly and Hinda Zarkey responded, but only his letters to her survive. The letters are part of an ongoing conversation between the two. Berman tells her what books he’s reading, what plays and movies he’s seen, how work is going, how he hopes to spend his vacation. He makes suggestions to her about what she might like to read and he encourages her in her studies. He also chats about people he’s seen who send their regards and asks her questions about life in America. But as time moves on his letters take on, first a melancholy tone, and then one of desperation. For example, he writes early on about the pleasure he receives from a radio he’s bought, but then later he writes about being glued to the radio in order to follow the awful news. He is looking for a way out and knows it’s not going to be easy.
Marlene Englander, Hinda Zarkey Saul's daughter, has created this book out of Nachum Berman’s letters to her mother to which she has added a lot of ancillary material. She and her mother annotated the letters which are included as endnotes. She also included many family photos as well as introductory material explaining her motivation for working on and publishing the book. She also gives the readers some background material on towns that play a major role in the story as well as an abbreviated family history. Crucial to Englander’s immersion in her mother’s story is a “roots” trip she took in 2010 where, most significant to her, she visited Widze and Seduva. Back home she tried to find more specific information about the fate of her mother’s family who stayed behind in Widze and the fate of Nachum Berman. She includes facsimiles of documents filed at Yad Vashem and an extensive list of the sources she consulted for her research.
This book has an immediacy not often found in Holocaust memoirs because it includes letters in the original Yiddish as well as in translation. The everyday discussions in the letters bring the 1930s to life in Nachum Berman's corner of the world which is enhanced by the accompanying photos.
To read an article about the Holocaust in Lithuania click here.
Zvi Hirsch Kagan – married Doba Himmelfarb
Chana Kagan – daughter of Zvi Hirsch and Doba; married Alchonan Zarchi
Hinda Kagan – daughter of Chana and Alchonan; married Jack Saul
Marlene Saul – daughter of Hinda and Jack; married Jon Englander
Kenneth and Howard Saul – sons of Hinda and Jack
Gita Kagan – daughter of Chana and Alchonan
Goda Kagan – daughter of Zvi Hirsch and Doba; married Samuel Bardon
Yvette Bardon – daughter of Goda and Samuel; married Shale Sonkin
Rachel, Isaac, Joseph Kagan – children of Zvi Hirsch and Doba
Leib and Lifsha Zarchi – parents of Alchonan Zarchi
Rachmiel Gordon – his mother was Zvi Hirsch Kagan’s sister
Ralph and Gloria Gordon – children of Rachmiel
Friends and Acquaintances
Faiva and Freida Berman
Nochum Berman – son of Faiva and Freida
Shlomo and Liuba Brett
Milke Brett – daughter of Shlomo and Liuba
Moshe Bret – son of Shlomo and Liuba
Sioma Davidowitz – son of Zalman
Elke Friedlander – daughter of Yudel
Shaya and Chava Mellman
Lola Mellman – daughter of Shaya and Chava; married Myron Friedman
Ania Mellman – daughter of Shaya and Chava
Herschel Ulfsky – brother of Bassia
Shlomo and Liuba Brett
Widze, Poland (now Vidzy, Belarus)
South Euclid, Ohio
Shaker Heights, Ohio