Motherland: Growing Up With the Holocaust

Motherland: Growing Up With the Holocaust

Rita Goldberg

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 1620970732

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“I am the child of a woman who survived the Holocaust not by the skin of her teeth but heroically,” writes Rita Goldberg. In a deeply moving second-generation Holocaust memoir, Goldberg introduces the extraordinary story of Hilde Jacobsthal, a close friend of Anne Frank’s family who was fifteen when the Nazis invaded Holland. After the arrest of her parents in 1943, Hilde fled to Belgium, living out the war years in an extraordinary set of circumstances—among the Resistance and at Bergen-Belsen after its liberation—that the Guardian newspaper judged “worthy of a film script.”

As astonishing as Hilde’s story is, Rita herself emerges as the central, fascinating character in this utterly unique account. Proud of her mother and yet struggling to forge an identity in the shadow of such heroic accomplishments (in a family setting that included close relationships with the iconic Frank family), Rita Goldberg reveals a little-explored aspect of Holocaust survival: the often-wrenching family and interpersonal struggles of the children and grandchildren whose own lives are haunted by historic tragedy.

Motherland is the culmination of a lifetime of reflection and a decade of research. It is an epic story of survival, adventure, and new life.












Yitzhak Rabin had been a student there ten years before. The school was nestled in the hills near Nazareth. Almost directly opposite rose Mount Tabor, where so much of the biblical Book of Judges takes place, its rounded height now crowned with a monastery. The campus of the school was beautifully planted with lush trees and flowers, giving it the appearance of a semitropical resort, my father says, but on June 6, the night following Max and Hilde’s arrival, the water tower was shelled and

looked as Aryan as any man I have ever seen: he was six-five, long-boned and jawed, blond and blue-eyed. His hair and the pouches under his eyes drooped a little, giving his looks a touch of the basset hound. He was handsome, though not, under normal circumstances, the sort of man I was drawn to. But I was in Germany on a quest, and he met the requirements of my darkest erotic fantasies. I had the same effect on him. I was the only Jew and the only American that any member of that crowd had met.

at his Amsterdam Lyceum, at which sixteen-year-olds received their diplomas in the knowledge that they had to report to the Central Station the next day for transport to Westerbork, the Dutch camp where deportees were held before they were sent on in cattle cars. A seventeen-year-old stood before her parents at the ceremony and asked them what she should do. “Don’t go!” people shouted, but some parents did let their children go, fearing worse fates for them if they did not. After all, they had

children from the tiniest infants up to twelve. And sometimes children were put on our doorstep. Parents had somehow known that they would be deported and wanted their children saved.” There was, according to the historian and television director Matthijs Cats, a sharp increase in foundlings during these years, and all were assumed to be Jewish. One of the foundlings was named Remi van Duinwijck by the staff. His last name came from the place where he had been discovered, a little town near

he was alive or dead, but she hoped that he had successfully suppressed the fact of his true identity. In her relationship with all the Belgians she had met, she had used her false identity to cloak her true one; and now she found herself in the peculiar position of having to pretend scruples about Catholicism which, in the face of the reality of being Jewish, were absurd. Her handling of the relationship with François-Xavier showed how young she really was. She didn’t know what to do. She was

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