Sav­ing What Remains: A Holo­caust Sur­vivor’s Jour­ney Home to Reclaim Her Ancestry

Livia Bit­ton-Jack­son
  • Review
By – August 25, 2011
In the spring of 1944, Livia Bit­ton-Jack­son was trans­port­ed from Samor­in, Czecho­slo­va­kia to Auschwitz, along with her moth­er, Lau­ra, and oth­er mem­bers of her fam­i­ly. Since many of her fam­i­ly mem­bers who per­ished in the Holo­caust did not have marked graves, many years lat­er, when the Jew­ish ceme­tery in Samor­in was threat­ened by the impend­ing con­struc­tion of a dam on the Danube riv­er, Bit­ton-Jack­son returned at the behest of her moth­er, who wished to have the remains of her par­ents exhumed and brought to Israel for rebur­ial. Sav­ing What Remains is a strik­ing exam­i­na­tion of how those who have come before us shape our under­stand­ing of both the present and the past. Bit­ton-Jack­son uses the asso­ci­a­tions that were evoked by the smells, loca­tions, and peo­ple that she encoun­tered on her jour­ney to deft­ly weave togeth­er the sto­ry of her return to Samor­in with her mem­o­ries of life before, dur­ing, and after the war. In this way, the nar­ra­tive struc­ture of the text draws atten­tion to the ways in which both the author’s mem­o­ries and dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of her fam­i­ly have become lay­ered and inex­tri­ca­bly entwined over time. An impor­tant addi­tion to Bitton-Jackson’s pre­vi­ous work on the Holo­caust, Sav­ing What Remains is a mov­ing explo­ration of the nature of fam­i­ly and the endur­ing effects of war.

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