The ProsenPeople

Beyond Pain Towards Celebration

Thursday, October 08, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Libi Adler

New book by Naava Piatka, No Goodbyes, honors both of her Holocaust survivor parents’ pasts. Already known internationally for her performances of her one-woman show, “Better Don’t Talk!,” about her mother, Chayela Rosenthal, Star of the Vilna Ghetto, Naava completes this Holocaust testimony of her father’s life.

Unfortunately, Piatka won’t get to enjoy it. Confined to her bed, afflicted with terminal cancer, she spent the last few months pushing past her mounting pain and fatigue to get this book published and out to market. She passed away last month.

The book lives on, though. No Goodbyes recounts the fascinating true stories of Naava’s father, Xavier Piat, in a testament to the endurance of love, the art of survival, the influence of family and the lasting impact of war. Piat describes her father’s life in Vilna, visits to his mother in Paris, his forced first marriage, the hiding of the future Israeli president, Menachem Begin in their family basement, and much more; all leading up to meeting his second wife, moving to Cape Town, South Africa where their first child Naava, was born.

In the end of the book Piatka adds a letter her father had left for her before he died. In it, he talks about being a survivor and how that experience is always passed down to the children of survivors. Having asked her father to tell her stories in the past, he writes to Naava:

“The truth is only those who themselves lived and were pained during those times can possibly fully understand and transform their experiences into knowledge. Others can never do so. But I trust you to impart these poor words into a picture so that others may see through your eyes what they should never see through their own.”

Piatka paints this picture in an elegant and open way. She and her father’s story shall not be forgotten.