Thursday, July 1, 2010

Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust by Joseph Berger 2001

"This absorbing, deeply moving memoir artfully dramatizes how children of survivors are pulled back by a powerful undertow of sorrow toward their parents, toward the past, toward questions of Jewish identity, even as they paddle out gratefully into the American mainstream." From a review in the New York Times by Jonathan Rosen in April, 2001

Joseph Berger, a journalist with the New York Times, writes an engrossing memoir about immigrating to America with his family in 1950 from a DP camp, and what it was like growing up the child of Holocaust survivors steeped in a refugee/survivor community in New York City: the loving but overprotective parents, the insular community. We see the author and his friends who are the sons of immigrants helping their parents negotiate the geography and culture of America as they find their way in a new country and city, try to adapt to a new way of life, learn English, and scramble to feed hungry mouths.

In writing his memoir, Berger was especially lucky to have a memoir his mother wrote to draw from in which she detailed what it was like growing up in pre-war Poland, what it was like surviving the Holocaust, living through the war, living in a DP camp, and then immigrating to America.

The author quotes extensively from her memoir, so, as a result, two generations have their say: parent and child.  The immediacy of his mother’s prose has a far greater effect on the reader than if Berger had merely used it as background material, or had summarized or paraphrased what he learned from reading her memoir.

This memoir contains many photos.

To learn more about Otwock, Poland, click here.

Author’s mother’s mother’s family:
Israel Zelig Olszewski – the author's maternal great grandfather
    Chana Leah - his daughter
    Sheindele Oszewski – his daughter
    Peseh Tutel Olszewski -  his daughter; married Joshua Galant; author's grandmother
        Rachel  – their daughter; author’s mother; married Marcus Berger
            Joseph (Israel) - author; married Brenda     
                Annie- their daughter
            Joshua Solomon  – author’s brother; married Fay
            Evelyn – author’s sister; married to James Hartman
                Jacob Solomon and Alisa– children of Evelyn and James
            Ivor Shapiro – brother-in-law of author (Fay’s brother?)

        Simcha  Warszawiak– Peseh Tutel’s son from 1st marriage; Rachel’s half-brother
        Freyda Leah  – Peseh Tutel’s daughter from 1st marriage; Rachel’s half sister; husband Leo
        Yasha Golant– son of Peseh Tutel and Joshua Golant; Rachel’s brother; wife Anne
             Benny,Joey,  and Esther – Yasha and Anne’s children
        Yossie (Yosef) – son of Joshua Golant’s 1st marriage; Rachel’s half brother

Author’s mother’s father’s family
Binyomin Golant – author’s  paternal great grandfather
    Joshua Golant – author’s grandfather; married 3 times (see above)
    Bluma Golant – Joshua Golant’s 3rd wife; cousin of his late wife Peseh Tutel
        Esther – daughter of Joshua and Bluma; author’s mother’s half sister
        Chana Leah – daughter of Joshua and Bluma; author’s mother’s half sister
        Shimon – son of Joshua and Bluma; author’s mother’s half brother
    Noma – widow of Bluma’s brother; 
     Deborah Golant – Joshua’s sister; married to Shmuel
    Sarah Golant – Joshua’s sister
    Jonah Feigenbaum – married to Sarah Golant; 2nd marriage to Kyla
        Samuel, Abraham, and Rachelke – their children
    Yossel Golant – Joshua’s brother – married Fredzia
    Yudel Golant – Joshua’s brother; married to Fela,
         Schmeil and Blima (Barbara) – their children

        Marcus Berger – author’s father; married Rachel Golant
    Morris Eisman – author’s father’s maternal uncle; married to Tessie
    Fanny Lessen – Tessie Eisman’s sister; married to Sydney Lessen

Friends and Acquaintances
Mordchale Weinberg –  married to Saba
    David Weinberg – their son
Moishe Granas
    Clara and Jackie – his daughters   
Simon Cooperman and Norma Cooperman
    Sol and Charlie – their sons
Moishe Erlich and Shayve Erlich
Sam and Fela Herling
    Simon Herling – son of Sam and Fela
Fred and Gerta Levy .
    Susan Levy – their daughter
Dickie Hochstein
Marvin Schencker
Howard Moses
Jay Zimmern
Rabbi Samson Brodsky
Rabbi Macy Gordon
Henry Laufer
City College friends: Clyde Haberman, Sue Solet, Ralph Blumenthal, Ralph Dannheiser
(all future journalists)

Places and Institutions
Borinya, Galacia
Otwock, Poland
Mordy, Poland
Brest Litovsk, Poland
Lvov, Ukraine
Lys’va Russia
Nalewki St, Warsaw
Schlactensee DP canp in Berlin
Ponary outside Vilna
The Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 50’s:
The South Bronx, 62 102nd St.
Alabama Ave., Brownsville section of Brooklyn
Manhattan Day School
Loeb Home, Rockland County, NY
Ohab Zedek, W 95th St, NYC
Tifereth Beth Jacob, the Bronx
YMHA day camp, 165th St
Cejwin Camps of Port Jervis
Bronx High School of Science
Yeshiva Univ. School for Boys
Catskill bungalow colonies
City College CUNY

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