Sur­vivors Club

Michael Born­stein and Deb­bie Born­stein Holinstat
  • Review
By – March 23, 2017

If the author’s father, at the age of 70, thought that it was final­ly time for him to tell her about how he and his fam­i­ly fared in the Holo­caust, then it was time for the author, his jour­nal­ist daugh­ter, to try to fill in every detail. Wasn’t that he, on the cov­er of this book, the youngest child in the front row of the famous pho­to­graph of sur­vivor chil­dren in Auschwitz, each dis­play­ing a tat­tooed fore­arm? The chil­dren don’t look mal­treat­ed or skele­tal, nor do they look fright­ened. Their Russ­ian lib­er­a­tors had tak­en good care of them for weeks, before they took this pho­to to prove that there were some chil­dren in Auschwitz. 

His sto­ry would have begun when he was a very lit­tle child in a Pol­ish town three quar­ters filled with Jews, some relat­ed to one anoth­er. These are the peo­ple whose expe­ri­ences in the Holo­caust the author has researched and incor­po­rat­ed into the details of her father’s and his imme­di­ate family’s, expe­ri­ences. The author tells a sto­ry woven from many con­ver­sa­tions, research, and trav­el, all of which she pur­sued with dili­gence to pro­duce this excep­tion­al book of mem­oir and his­to­ry. Long-gone fam­i­ly mem­bers are res­ur­rect­ed, sur­vivors try­ing to return to Jew-hat­ing towns. There, too, are their expe­ri­ences, some dan­ger­ous, in DP camps and after­wards, try­ing to find any sur­viv­ing fam­i­ly, mar­ry­ing and becom­ing a whole per­son once again, restock­ing once more the tribe called Jews.”

This is a book worth read­ing more than once. It is com­pelling; there is some­thing nov­el­is­tic about it. It cer­tain­ly reads with more verve and detail than most straight tes­ti­monies. Why had the author’s father wait­ed 70 years since leav­ing Auschwitz to at last tell his daugh­ter, a writer, the sto­ry of his expe­ri­ences as a pris­on­er there? He must have been wait­ing for her to be ready to receive it. Although list­ed for ages 1014, it also makes excel­lent adult reading.

It includes an after­word, a fam­i­ly who’s‑who, and a glossary.

Vis­it­ing Scribe: Deb­bie Born­stein Holinstat,/a>

Dis­cov­er­ing the Pow­er of Jew­ish Books in Ottumwa, Iowa

The Father I Always Knew, the Sur­vivor I Final­ly Know Better

Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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