I Want You to Know We’re Still Here
A Post-Holocaust Memoir
Esther Safran Foer
Tim Duggan Books, Mar 2020
Memoir, Historical, Holocaust, Genealogy
Provided by Edelweiss
The cover is perfect for this story. It looks like an old photograph, which I’m sure it was taken from. The subtle font in pale gray and the ragged-looking edge like an old document all add up to the telling of an old story, which this is. A story that hasn’t been told completely. Too many of its parts have been lost, covered up to be kept secret or simply lost to time and death of those who carry the story.
The Jews of Europe had to keep things secret. Where they were. How many of them there were. What they had. Their very existence had to be kept secret. For if they were discovered, their lives were forfeit to torture or death. Families were separated, to begin with. Husbands from wives, parents from children, siblings from each other even, mostly by gender. Shipped off to different camps and most never to find each other again if they lived through the war and what they were put through in the camps.
Esther records her family’s personal history of changed names and birth dates and many more secrets. She shares her hunt for information, confusing as it was. Europe’s boundaries changed many times and so many records were lost, moved to different locations, or destroyed since then. What was once a governmental record is now in the hands of each parish and such. But these countries, states, and towns are very different from what they were at the time of the war. What once was Germany might now be another country. What once was Ukraine, might now be Germany. Where do you apply to find records of that time? And what name do you look for when people were trying to hide who they really were and using aliases? Changing their birth dates? Denying their family ties? Yes, the author provides a confusing number of names and such in her book that seem superfluous to those not familiar with a family search. However, being familiar with the ways of genealogists and what happens when you go looking for your ancestors, I understand why there are so many names. The story is written as it happened to the best of Mrs. Foer’s ability. It’s a story that needs to be told so that it won’t be forgotten. I highly recommend this book.