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I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors Hardcover – August 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1St Edition edition (August 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489181
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Children of Holocaust survivors carry an unusual burden, but you don't come across many who consider their status a form of "cachet" that they can "socially trade on." Yet not only does Eisenstein freely admit to just that, she does it with an eloquent irreverence and a blend of self-absorption and self-awareness that make her debut captivating. The daughter of Polish refugees who settled in Toronto in the late 1940s, Eisenstein is a gifted artist as well as a wordsmith, and her color illustrations take over here when words are insufficient. She grasps that it was her parents who suffered through the Holocaust, but in describing herself as "some Jewish Sisyphus, pushing history and memory uphill, wondering what I'm supposed to be," she neatly articulates her struggle to understand their suffering and get to know them as human beings. Eisenstein treasures the rare moments when her reticent parents share their past. She seeks connections through relatives, books and other survivors. Her frustration and confusion are palpable, but what emerges most strongly is a deep and abiding love for her parents. "Never forget" is a central tenet of Judaism. In this beautiful tribute, Eisenstein shows she's taken that lesson to heart. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Born in Canada in 1949, Eisenstein is the daughter of Holocaust survivors who lived through the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Her parents were born in Poland, and Yiddish was the language spoken at home. "The Holocaust is a drug and I have entered an opium den," she writes, saying that she needed to know what the experience had done to her mother and father. She describes their daily life, her love of books and movies, and her mother's tape of an interview for the archives of the Holocaust Project. Eisenstein tells of her ties to aunts, uncles, and cousins and of family gatherings on Jewish holidays and at bar mitzvahs. In this graphic memoir--the book is filled with illustrations in black and white and in color--Eisenstein examines the consequences of being the daughter of Holocaust survivors. It is a riveting account of what it was like. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on August 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Holocaust occurred over six decades ago, and the survivors of this episode are aging and dying. In fact, calling the Holocaust an "episode" seems to be trivializing one of the darkest periods in human history. I apologize for any such characterization. The Holocaust was a monstrosity, an aberration, a blot on the record of humanity. Millions died.

Yet some lived. And these survivors had a life, children, a home.

This book, I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, is author Bernice Eisenstein's recollections of growing up in a family that had both mother and father with tattooed arms. Even as a youngster, Eisenstein grappled with the knowledge of her parent's past, the stigma of being defined by this past, and the responsibility of maintaining memories without adding more pain to the world.

I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors is not a first person account of experiences during WWII as you can read in Night, by Elie Wiesel, although some of her parent's stories are recounted. However, Eisenstein's experiences and memories are also real. She hungered to understand what her parents experienced. She cried harder than her parents when she watched films about the Holocaust. The Holocaust has shaped members of a succeeding generation.

She exists because of the Holocaust, with her parents finding each other at liberation, and shaping her through their language, actions, and social life.

The book has illustrations throughout... haunting depictions not of life in concentration camps, but how a child (and later a young woman) came to view her heritage.

We all come from some place. Eisenstein comes from a place darker than we should ever have to see. I hope this book is picked as one to discuss in high schools and colleges.

Never forget.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David Ferleger on August 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I too am a child of Holocaust survivors. I read this book (picked up by surprise in a bookstore) in one several hour reading. It is touching, moving, eloquent, great art, and deeply personal. Life and death, of all sorts. Happiness and sadness, of all sorts. I'm deeply appreciative for the author's letting the world in on her (my) life.

David
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bridget Harris on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
this book is both illuminating and moving, I have already lent my copy to two other people. An important new voice on the Holocaust and it's survivors and descendants.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Adams on May 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read the one star review saying that the author only sought to know what happened to her parents, not getting to know them personally. I would hate to presume to know what that persons experiences were, but as the child/grandchild of victim/survivors.... everyone is dead, my father made it impossible for me to get to know the "real" him because his desperate need prevented him from being a parent to me, his needs so desperate that manipulation was his means. I will never know these people because alive, they were cold and distant. She nails my feelings on the head, the desperate need to find the story, so I can remember what they needed to forget. So I can understand that the things I hated about them, it wasn't really them. It was what was created for them.
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