The Unan­swered Let­ter: One Holo­caust Fam­i­ly’s Des­per­ate Plea for Help

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2019
You are sure­ly informed about the sit­u­a­tion of all Jews in Cen­tral Europe…help us to fol­low our chil­dren.… It is our last and only hope.“

That was the des­per­ate plea of Alfred Berg­er, mailed in a let­ter to an Amer­i­can stranger who hap­pened to share his last name. Fifty years lat­er, after lan­guish­ing in a trunk in a Cal­i­for­nia attic, the let­ter improb­a­bly found itself in the hands of jour­nal­ist Faris Cas­sell, who would­n’t rest until she had dis­cov­ered the end­ing to the sto­ry. In 1939, as the Nazis ratch­eted up their per­se­cu­tion of the Jews in Vien­na, Alfred and his wife Hed­wig had exhaust­ed their mon­ey, con­nec­tions, and emo­tion­al ener­gy to find escape routes for their two daugh­ters. Now they were des­per­ate­ly try­ing to join them. Cas­sel­l’s research took her across the Unit­ed States, Aus­tria, Belarus, Czech Repub­lic, and Israel, uncov­er­ing an extra­or­di­nary sto­ry of heart-wrench­ing loss and endur­ing love that will move any read­er. Was Alfred and Hed­wig’s des­per­ate plea answered? Did they and their daugh­ters sur­vive? Read­ers will find the answers here.

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