Monday, May 31, 2010

Inheritance, A documentary directed by James Moll 2008

James Moll is a longtime associate of Steven Spielberg and a co-founding director of the Shoah Foundation. He won a 1999 Oscar for 'The Last Days,' a documentary about five Hungarian Holocaust survivors.

Originally shown as part of the P.O.V series on PBS TV, this documentary is a recording of a 2004 meeting arranged by the film director, James Moll, between Monika Hertwig, the daughter of Amon Goeth, who had been the chief commander of the Plaszow concentration camp in Poland, and Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, who had been interned in the camp and had served as a maid in Amon Geoth’s headquarters until rescued by Oskar Schindler. Jonas-Rosenzweig was accompanied by her daughter and the three of them meet on the grounds of the former concentration camp.

This documentary is fascinating and provocative in that one of the two main participants is the daughter of a famous Nazi. We see her wrestling with the guilt that was part of her inheritance and the grief of having had to come to terms with who her father really was. (She first saw her father as other than a war hero when she saw Ralph Fiennes' portray him in "Schindler's List.") She was eager to meet Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, a Jewish survivor who now lives in New Jersey. Their meeting was tense. Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig needed to tell her story. Monika listened but she knew there was no way she could make everything right.

For more information about the subject of this documentary, click here.

Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig
Vivian Delman (her daughter)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

After Long Silence by Helen Fremont 1999

"Fremont ... confronts a common dilemma for many children of survivors: how to penetrate their parents’ 'armor' of denial, secrecy, or silence without feeling selfish or guilty for resuscitating traumas from the war." from 'Possessed by a History They Never Lived: Daughters of Holocaust Survivors Confront Secrecy and Silence' by Nancy Kersell

This disturbing memoir describes what it was like to grow up as a child of Holocaust survivors who converted to Catholicism. Helen Fremont, born in 1953 in a state in the Midwest, assumed she and the rest of her family were Catholic which was the religion the family practiced.  It wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she stopped to carefully examine confusing details from her childhood and the few remarks her mother would ever make about her past when pressed. She came to see that there were inconsistencies and tremendous gaps. She did a little digging and found out that her parents were Jewish and that their families had been killed because they were Jews.

She and her sister conferred regularly. They consulted rabbis and family friends. They visited Ukraine and got documents from Yad Vashem. They then started to question their mother and provided her with some of the information they learned. But she resisted their inquiries and was distraught with what she hears about the past and she even tried to deny what her daughters learned. Little by little they put together a narrative that tells the family story and reveals the desperate circumstances that both their mother and their father and their families experienced.

What’s particularly tragic and interesting about this memoir is that in the end the narrative does not support the notion that the truth will set you free. Bringing up the past was emotionally traumatizing to her parents, especially her mother and her mother’s sister who lives in Italy and who had also converted to Catholicism. 

It’s clear that there are competing interests here. The author wants the truth and wants to confront her parents with the truth. She wants to understand. She assumes once the “secret” is revealed, their authentic identities restored, the family will be in some sense repaired.  But it’s clear that her mother and especially her aunt cannot deal with the truth. They want to keep the past buried; to tell the story is to re-live it.Their elaborate coping mechanisms in place serve to keep them from falling apart.

Note to genealogists: Do not expect to find family names in this memoir. The author states in the beginning that she has changed the names of “a number of individuals” to protect their privacy, but that did not prevent a rift in the family when she published this memoir. In the afterword published in the paperback edition, she says that despite the name changes, relatives she didn’t know found her. She and her sister attended a family reunion of fifty members. Her parents did not attend.

For an interesting article from HAARETZ.COM that discusses evidence that the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors suffer from more emotional difficulties than the general population of grandchildren, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Farewell, Babylon: Coming of Age in Jewish Baghdad by Naim Kattan, first published in French, 1975

Naim Kattan received the 2004 Prix Athanase, Quebec's highest literary award. He also was awarded France's Legion d'Honneur.

Naim Kattan, born in 1928 in Baghdad, left Iraq for Paris to study at the Sorbonne on a scholarship from the French government shortly after the end of World War II and eventually settled in Montreal where he became a prominent writer. In his memoir which covers his years growing up in Baghdad, he stresses that a Jewish community had been in Iraq since the time of Nebuchadnezzar after the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem and that he and his friends felt like solid Iraqi citizens who were Jewish. They spoke Arabic and, in fact, he said that Jewish students frequently won the end-of-the-year school prizes for excellence in Arabic.

But there was unrest and discrimination against the Jews that reached a crescendo in June of 1941, when Kattan was thirteen, with the Farhoud – a violent mob-led onslaught against the Jewish community fomented by Germans and Muslims as a reaction against the Jewish population and the British military presence. Although order was restored, the Jewish community remained on edge and many made plans to leave Iraq as soon as the war was over.

Naim Kattan describes those times and his life during them. He became a student at the Alliance Israelite Universelle where, with other Jewish students, he studied Arabic, French, Hebrew and English. Facility in these languages prepared the students for places in the civil service, for the law, and for roles as translators and merchants. He describes the various groups that interacted fairly amicably even after the Farhoud, but we also see the increasing nationalism and anti-Zionism that came to the fore after World War II when the State of Israel was on its way to becoming a reality.

Kattan gives us a very interesting descriptions of neighborhoods, local customs, both Jewish and Muslim, and is especially enlightening about male/female relationships. His discussion of the matchmaking that ensued when his sister was of age to be married conveys in vivid detail how that ritual played itself out. He also spends time describing his education and his intellectual circle of friends. The memoir ends when, in tears, he left his family for Paris.

Note: This memoir will not be helpful to genealogists looking for family names.Kattan seems to have deliberately not included the names of individuals, most likely to respect their privacy. But it is definitely worth reading for the description he gives of an Iraqi Jewish culture that has disappeared. 

To read an interesting description of the Farhoud, that has been likened to Kristallnacht, click here.
Yossef al Siddik – author’s grandfather
    Manasseh – his son
    Ephraim – his son

Yaacoub Benyumine – prominent Jewish lawyer in the Baghdad Jewish community

Battawiyeen, Baghdad, Iraq
Meir Synagogue
Alliance Israelite Universelle
Shamash School
Moshi Café
Al Rafidayn Club

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin, edited by Cara de Silva, first published in 1996

Lore Dickstein calls In Memory's Kitchen an "extraordinary book," in her review in the New York Times.

It is a challenge to call this slim volume of recipes written down by women who were prisoners in the Terezin concentration camp in Germany a memoir. It is certainly not a memoir in a conventional sense, but the word "memoir" seems to work in that the recipes speak volumes about the past: the tradition which these recipes represent and the conditions under which they were written down and bound into a manuscript. But they also speak volumes about the present: the recording of these recipes in the concentration camp and their preservation signals a resistance against obliteration and a determination to be acknowledged by future readers.

This collection was put together by Mina Pachter, a prisoner in Terezin, who, before she was killed, put the manuscript into the hands of another inmate who survived and who eventually got it to Mina Pachter’s daughter Annie who had by then moved from Israel to the United States.  The recipes themselves are in the original German, each followed by an English translation. They are often not complete; sometimes ingredients and/or steps have been left out, but the essence is there on the page and conjures up a pre-World War II central Europe that was destroyed. As it says in the subtitle of this book: this is their legacy, the collective shorthand that conveys to us the life and culture that was stolen from them.

The memoir also contains:
A foreward by Michael Berenbaum, Director, U.S. Holocaust Research Institute, Washington, D.C. that discusses the Terezin camp
Pen and ink drawings of food by concentration camp inmates
Reproductions of some of the hand-written recipe pages
A glossary describing recipe terminology
Some poems written by Whilhelmina (Mina) Pachter written in Terezin in German and English with explanatory notes
Several letters in German and Czech by Mina Pachter written in Terezin translated into English with some explanatory notes
A biographical essay about Wilhelmina Pachter by her grandson David Stern

To read a very interesting interview about the background of this book that was conducted by Elizabeth Farnsworth  on PBS with the book's editor, Cara de Silva, click here.

Wolf (Ze’ev) Stein – Mina Pachter’s great grandfather
    Heinrich Stein – father of Mina Pachter
        Mina Pachter – married Adolf Pachter, widower
            Heinz (Hanoch) – their son
            Anna Willma – their daughter;
            George Stern - Anna Willma's husband
                Peter – their son; took the first name David
        Adele Hirsch – Adolf Pachter’s first wife
                Leisel (Elizabeth) their granddaughter
                Ernest Reich - Leisel's husband

Terezin Concentration Camp

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors by Bernice Eisenstein 2006

Trillium Award finalist, The Ontario government's award for literature

The author of this memoir, Bernice Eisenstein, born in 1949, is an illustrator by profession, so her memoir is as much art as it is text. She has created black and white drawings of all sizes to help tell the story of her growing up in Toronto, the child of Holocaust survivors. Yiddish was the author’s first language and there is a lot of Yiddish in her text. 

Eisenstein starts by telling the story of what she learned over the years about her father who grew up in Miechow in Poland and was deported to Auschwitz where he remained for eleven months until the camp was liberated. She then shifts to her mother who in 1995 agreed to a taped interview for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation. Eisenstein talks about the experience of watching and listening to her mother on tape, of hearing the whole story for the first time. Her mother talked about having grown up in Bedzin, Poland, about being only fourteen when the war broke out, about being corralled into a ghetto and then being sent with her family to Auschwitz where she met her future husband as the camp was being liberated.

Eisenstein grew up knowing that her parents were tormented by all the losses in their lives, and it’s clear that she grew up feeling the burden of their past and that her life was shaped by it. Attending the 2003 10th anniversary of The Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. to which survivors and their children were specifically invited, she was profoundly moved and gained a better understanding of her parents.

She artfully concludes the memoir with the death of her father, followed a few months later by the birth of her son. She re-creates the scene of her son’s circumcision, a rite that signifies his Jewish identity. The continuity of her family is reinforced in her naming him after her father.

To read an interesting interview with Bernice Eisenstein where she talks about the process of creating this memoir, click here.

Update - 9/27/2010: A representative of the National Film Board of Canada informed me that a film of this graphic memoir has been released. To see clips of the film as well as two interesting interviews with the director of the film, click here.

Father’s side of the family
Mordechai (Motel) Eisentstein – author’s paternal grandfather
Sarah – Mordechai’s wife; author’s paternal grandmother
    Bina (Binche) – their daughter; married Mintz
    Hanna (Chana) – their daughter   
    Barak (Ben) – their son; author’s father
    Regina  - Barak’s wife
        Sharon – their daughter
        Bernice – their daughter; author
        Michael – their son
Jacob (Yakov) – (Jack in America); married Jenny (Regina’s sister)

Mother’s side of the family
Moishe Oksenhendler– author’s maternal grandfather
Machele – his wife; author’s maternal grandmother
    Regina – their daughter; author’s mother
    (Jadzia) Jenny – their daughter
    Lemel – their son
Etta – author’s grandfather’s brother; her great uncle
Shifra – his second wife


Rakowitz, Poland
Miechow, Poland
Bedzin, Poland
Katowice, Poland
Bergen-Belsen displaced person’s camp
Toronto, Canada
Kensington Market, Toronto
Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada
Landskroner, Sweden

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Miriam's Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich 1997

"The foods we eat and the ways in which we prepare them are among the strongest and most enduring expressions of our culture. They bind child to mother, mother to family, and families to the traditions that define nations." From a review by Peter Kaminsky of Miriam's Kitchen from the New York Times, 10/19/97.

This is a memoir rich in Yiddish phrases, traditions, religious practice and recipes. In this memoir Elizabeth Ehrlich explores her ties to the Jewish religion, recounting her childhood in Detroit and examining the life she is currently living. She would like her life as well as her family life to be more religiously observant.

She is drawn to her mother-in-law Miriam who is both religiously observant and a superb cook of traditional Jewish foods. Miriam, a Holocaust survivor, as a tribute to the memory of her mother , makes cooking the Polish-Jewish recipes of her mother central to her life. Elizabeth Ehrlich becomes her mother-in-law's student in all things Jewish – her cooking as well her religious practice. 

The memoir details one year in Ehrlich’s life, starting in September when it is time to prepare for the Jewish New Year. Each chapter represents a month and within each chapter Ehrlich talks about her own evolving religious practice and what she learns as she observes her mother-in-law’s labors of love in the kitchen.  Interspersed with the cooking instructions from her mother-in-law Ehrlich includes passages about what Miriam tells her about her life in Poland during World War II. The food preparation in the present throws into relief the Holocaust, ostensibly in the past, but very much a part of the daily life of this family. The food is a connection to that lost past.

Although most of the focus of this memoir is on Miriam’s cooking, Ehrlich also includes the traditions in her own family and remembers well her father’s mother – her Brooklyn grandmother - and the traditional foods she prepared for Jewish holidays they spent with her.

 Note to genealogists: The author seems to have taken some care to guard the privacy of those mentioned in this memoir.  For example, she rarely fills in a last name, though there are some clues given in her acknowledgments: Ehrlich is  her maiden name, Stocker is her mother's maiden name. Potok is her husband's family's name.

If you'd like to read an interesting article about how important the Settlement Cook Book was to Jewish immigrants in the first half of the twentieth century, that was originally broadcast on National Public Radio, click here.

Rivke – Miriam’s mother
Sesha– Rivke’s sister
Pola – Rivke’s sister
     Miriam – Rivke's daughter; author’s mother-in-law
     Jacob Ehrlich– Miriams' husband; author’s father-in-law

Author’s mother’s family
Libe Beyle – author’s mother’s grandmother
            Zalman – author’s mother’s grandfather
            Malke Feltsman- author’s mother’s mother
                        Lazar – their son; author’s grandfather
                        Sol – Zalman’s nephew; author’s great uncle
Mary Brown Glassman- author’s great grandmother
Zalman Glassman – author’s great grandfather – married Mary Brown
Yankele Brown – Mary’s brother
            Isadore – author’s brother
            Cheryl – author’s sister

Author’s father’s family
Rivka Blume – his father’s grandmother
Moses – father’s grandfather
            Isaac – his father’s father
            Chaya Kusher ( Irene) – his father’s mother
                        Edward – her son; author’s father
                        Selina – her daughter; married Charles MacIntyre
                        Millie – her daughter
            Dora; sister to Irene
                        Sylvia – Dora’s daughter

Shott, Lithuania
Chestochowa – concentration camp
Detroit, Michigan
Brooklyn, NY

Monday, May 10, 2010

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Childhood by Oliver Sacks, 2001

A "joyous, wistful, generous and tough-minded memoir ..." Natalie Angier in a review in the New York Times, 11/4/2001

The neurologist Oliver Sacks has written a wonderfully eccentric memoir about his boyhood and his fascination with chemistry. What we learn, besides a lot of chemistry, is that he grew up in London in a remarkable, highly educated, traditionally Jewish family. (Abba Eben, the first Israeli ambassador to the U.N. was his first cousin.) This memoir is a tribute to his large and brilliant family. Both of his parents, who were doctors, and his highly accomplished aunts and uncles encouraged his curiosity and his talents.

An early sentence combines both science and religion: In Chapter One Sacks talks about how he loved his mother’s lighting the “shabbas candles. . . . I was mesmerized by the little cone of blue flame at the candle’s center – why was it blue?” Included are some discussions of his mother’s surgical practice in the house, his occasional trips with his father when he made house calls, and a description of home-grown science experiments encouraged by his uncles. Be forewarned that if you are not fascinated by science it will be more difficult to get through the chapters that discuss chemistry, electricity, photography, and spectography.

But we also learn a lot about the rest of his growing up, including the trauma of being evacuated from London and placed in a boarding school at  the age of six during World War II. There are loving descriptions of both the East End and Cricklewood areas of London pre-WWII including their involvement with the Walm Lane Synagogue and descriptions of London during the war. The memoir also includes photos.

To read an interview with Oliver Sacks in the Guardian that was published when he received the Jewish Quarterly Wingate prize, click here.

Mother’s side of family
Lazar Weiskopf – ancestor rabbi on mother’s side from Lubeck
Judith Weiskopf – Oliver’s  maternal great grandmother
    Mordechai Fredkin – author’s maternal grandfather; Fled Russia using name of Mordechai Landau; had 18 children – 9 boys, 9 girls who used the name Landau
        Rose Alexander
            Walter Alexander - her son;   
    Chaya; second wife of Mordechai (Fredkin) Landau
        Dave (nicknamed Uncle Tungsten)
        Elsa-  author’s mother
        Violet – married Moritz;

Family on Father’s side
Elivelva Sacks
    Samuel – author’s father
    Bennie – father’s brother
    Lina Sacks Halper– father’s sister;
    Alida Sacks Eban –father’s sister; married Yitzhak Eban, MD
        Aubrey (Abba) Eban their son; \
    Ida aunt of author
    Gisela aunt of author
    Moss, uncle of author

        Dennis and Neville – author’s cousins

Family of Samuel and Elsa Sacks
    Marcus Sacks
    Michael Sacks
    David Sacks
    Oliver Wolf Sacks - author
        Jonathan Sacks, author’s nephew

Huberfelds – couple evacuated from Belgium during the WWII and living with Sacks family
Miss Levy – his father’s secretary

Those connected to Walm Lane Synagogue
Cantor Schechter
Mr. Silver – worked in Pharmacy Cricklewood;
Mr. Bramson – grocer in Cricklewood
Mr. Ginsberg – greengrocer in Cricklewood
Mr. Grodzinski –baker in Cricklewood
Mr. Waterman – kosher butcher in Cricklewood

Places and Institutions
Joniski, Lithuania
37 Mapesbury Rd, in Cricklewood, northwest London;
Braefield – boarding school in Midlands
The Walm Lane Synagogue
The East End, Petticoat Lane, Marks of the Lane, Blooms on Aldgate, Ostwind’s, Strongwater’s, Silbersteins

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews by Father Patrick Desbois 2008

In April of 2010 Ben Gurion University in Israel awarded the Ladislav Last Ecumenical Prize for Tolerance and Religious and Social Understanding to Father Desbois who is president of the Yahad–In Unum Association and has devoted his life to confronting antisemitism and furthering Catholic-Jewish understanding.

This is an important and highly readable memoir/historical inquiry by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest who has been, since he was young, trying to understand the profound moral implications of the Holocaust. He writes about how he embarked on a path of study that included learning Hebrew and taking courses at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He has made it his mission to locate all unidentified mass grave sites of Jewish victims in Ukraine. This book is a compelling report on the results of his efforts so far.

His point is that in western Europe, the Nazis had the killing machines of the extermination camps. In eastern Europe, however, Jews were mostly shot in their towns and buried in pits often dug by the victims themselves or by local Ukrainians. These mass graves have become overgrown and were unmarked. Because the Soviet Union has opened up somewhat, Father Desbois has sought documents to corroborate information he received from conducting interviews with Ukranian witnesses.

Father Desbois’ very important work is ongoing and has been recognized internationally. This book is published with the support of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and has a forward by its Director, Paul A. Shapiro.

Note: There are hardly any names of victims mentioned. The focus of this book is Father Besbois’ work at the sites: identifying them, interviewing elderly eye-witnesses to document what took place, and marking the sites as Jewish burial grounds.

This book includes photos, maps, footnotes and an index.

For extensive coverage of Father Desbois and his mission published in the New York Times and written to coincide with a traveling exhibit of Father Desbois' project that opened in Paris, click here.The article includes photos and videos.

Camp Rawa-Ruska, Ukraine
Ougnif, Ukraine
Lublin, Poland
Borove, Lviv region
Mosty-Wielkie,  Ukraine
Bilatserva, Ukraine
Khvativ, Lviv region
Ivano-Frankivsk region, Galacia
Konstiantynivka, Zaporjie region
Melitipol, Ukraine
Kalininskoye, Crimea
Ternivka, Ukraine
Zabolottia, Ukraine
Romanivka, Nikolaiev region
Sataniv, Ukraine
Kilometer Eleven, extermination site near Simferopol, Ukraine
Rata, Ukraine
Belz, Ukraine
Busk, Lviv region
Lisinitchi, Lviv region
Kovel, Loutsk region
Kertch, Crimea
Voskresenskoye, Nikolayev region
Lubianka, Nikolayev region
Novozlatopol, Zaporjie region
Torchyn, Volbyn region
Jovtneve, Nikolayev region
Iltsi, Ivano-Frankivsk region
Belzec, Poland
Chernovo, Crimea
Novy Yaritchev
Bobovry Kut, region of Kherson
Strusiv in the region of Ternopil
Feodosia, region of Crimea

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood by Kate Simon 1982

 "The themes of her work—a young woman’s search for independence and selfhood, her discovery and attitudes toward sexuality, her loving and ironic stance toward the secular Jewish left, and her encounters with a wide array of 'places and pleasures'—make hers a unique voice among memoirists and Jewish immigrant writers." Michael Galchinsky in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia

 In this classic memoir, the first of a trilogy, Kate Simon, who was born in 1912 in Warsaw, Poland, brings to life the multi-lingual, multi-ethnic immigrant Tremont area of the Bronx in New York City. Between World Wars I and II she grew up in a tenement surrounded by immigrants and their children. We watch as they eat: the memoir is famous for an early scene of a carp swimming in the tub which is soon to be made into gefilte fish. She describes how they sleep: two and three to a bed. She describes their playing games in the streets, their working in factories and at home (doing piece-work), and their two-week vacations in the summer- either enjoying the sea air on Coney Island or going on day trips by trolley to Orchard Beach.

It’s also a perceptive and frank story about her learning about the world around her, including her dawning knowledge about sex: she recounts what she remembers about her mother being pregnant with her youngest sister who was born at home; about her parents, especially her father, constantly admonishing her about how she should behave around members of the opposite sex, and her having to protect herself against the predatory sexual behavior of boarders and neighbors.

In Volume II, Wider World: Story of an Adolescence (1986) and Volume III, Etchings in an Hourglass (published posthumously in 1990) Simon discusses her life as it developed beyond her early adolescence.

To read the obituary of Kate Simon in the New York Times, click here.

Lonia Babicz – author’s mother; emigrated from Warsaw, Poland
Yukele Grobsmith – author’s father
   Kaila Grobsmith – author’s original name; changed to Caroline in the US. 
   Michael Grobsmith – the author’s brother
David, Rachel, Yentel, aunts and uncles of Yukele who lived on Avenue C
Surrele – Yukele’s sister
Fannie Herman, neighbor
Mr. Herman – owner of small kosher meat market
   Miriam Herman – their daughter
   Tobie Herman – their daughter

Tvarda Gass in the Warsaw ghetto
The Bronx around Tremont Avenue near Crotona Park

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Story of a Life by Aharon Appelfeld 1999 in Hebrew; 2004 in English

"In more than three dozen books, Appelfeld ... has used his memories of life from ages 8 to 13 to create a literature that explores the range of the human soul, in which his characters are subject to extreme conditions and respond in ways that are often horrifying, but can also be surprisingly graceful and courageous." From an interview with David Green in, 4/05/2010 

In this memoir the Israeli fiction writer Aharon Appelfeld discusses being a child in Czernowitz, surviving the Holocaust, being without family, adjusting to life in Israel, and becoming a writer.

Appelfeld, who was born in 1932  in Czernowitz, Ukraine, was only seven years old when World War II broke out. We learn that his family was moved to the ghetto, that his mother was killed and that he and his father and his grandfather went together on a forced march out of Ukraine, that his grandfather died on the way, that he and his father were separated, that he was in a camp and later escaped into the forest, that he was in a displaced person's camp in Italy, and that he went by boat to Palestine. But this is not a Holocaust memoir that unfolds in a chronological fashion and that is heavy on detail. His point is not to tell that story but to set the scene for what he wants to convey about growing up in Palestine/Israel.

What the memoir is about is his lingering feelings of alienation, loss and trauma. German was the language of culture his parents spoke, Yiddish the language of his grandparents. In Israel he had to learn Hebrew, a language he found very difficult and totally foreign, a language that he struggled with in order to feel comfortable expressing himself. In his eyes he neither looked like an Israeli nor felt like one. He joined the army at eighteen to become more “Israeli” but was disappointed that he was only found "Fit For Service" which meant he served in a non-combatant role.

The memoir ends with a chapter about the New Life Club founded by Holocaust survivors from Galicia and Bukovina which became his second home because it connected to his identity as a Holocaust survivor. He says at one point that he realized he had to write as a refugee and not as an Israeli.

To see a moving video of the untended Czernowitz Jewish cemetery click here.
To see photos of a partial clean-up of the cemetery in 2008, click here.

Felix- author's mother’s uncle; agronomist; father had been a rabbi; married to Regina

     Michael and Bonia Appelfeld – author’s parents
           Aharon Appelfeld’s original first name – Erwin; born in Czernowitz, 1932; author

Hirsh Lang – survivor/ friend in Israel

Czernowitz, Ukraine
Bukovina, Ukraine
Atlit Camp - Palestine