This book is about five times longer than it needs to be but the author has a nice way, so it doesn t feel like too much of a drag I thought it had a lot of promise in the beginning, which kind of fizzled out about 2 3 way in It was a good stab at discussing how complicated history is. In A Unique, Intensely Moving Memoir, Erin Einhorn Finds The Family In Poland Who Saved Her Mother From The Holocaust But Instead Of A Joyful Reunion, Erin Unearths A Dispute That Forces Her To Navigate The Increasingly Bitter Crossroads Between Memory And Truth To A Young Newspaper Reporter, It Was The Story Of A Lifetime A Jewish Infant Born In The Ghetto, Saved From The Nazis By A Polish Family, Uprooted To Sweden After The War, Repeatedly Torn Away From The People She Knew As Family All To Take A Transatlantic Journey With A Father She D Barely Known Toward A New Life In The United States Who Wouldn T Want To Tell That Tale Growing Up In Suburban Detroit, Erin Einhorn Pestered Her Mother To Share Details About The Tumultuous, Wartime Childhood She D Experienced I Was Always Loved, Was All Her Mother Would Say, Over And Over Again But, For Erin, That Answer Simply Wasn T Satisfactory She Boarded A Plane To Poland With A Singular Mission To Uncover The Truth Of What Happened To Her Mother And Reunite The Two Families Who Once Worked Together To Save A Child But When Erin Finds Wieslaw Skowronski, The Elderly Son Of The Woman Who Sheltered Her Mother, She Discovers That Her Search Will Involve Much Than Just Her Mother S Childhood Sixty Years Prior, At The End Of World War II, Wieslaw Skowronski Claimed That Erin S Grandfather Had Offered The Skowronskis His Family Home In Exchange For Hiding His Daughter But For Both Families, The Details Were Murky If The Promise Was Real, Fulfilling It Would Be Arduous And Expensive To Unravel The Truth And Resolve The Decades Old Land Dispute, Erin Must Search Through Centuries Of Dusty Records And Maneuver An Outdated, Convoluted Legal System As She Tries To Help The Skowronski Family, Erin Must Also Confront The Heart Wrenching Circumstances Of Her Family S Tragic Past While Coping With Unexpected Events In Her Own Life That Will Alter Her Mission Completely Six Decades After Two Families Were Brought Together By History, Erin Is Forced To Separate The Facts From The Glimmers Of Fiction Handed Down In The Stories Of Her Ancestors In This Extraordinariy Intimate Memoir, Journalist Erin Einhorn Overcomes Seemingly Insurmountable Barriers Legal, Financial, And Emotional Only To Question Her Own Motives And Wonder How Far She Should Go To Right The Wrongs Of The Past A professional journalist, Einhorn exhibits remarkable objectivity in dealing with what has heretofore been a touchy, painful, and irritating subject to people on both sides of the equation See the many passionate, argumentative reviews on of Maus or Fear Anti Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz Far from being an apologist for either side, Einhorn recounts valid examples of Polish anti Semitic incidents that led many Jews to condemn all Poles in perpetuity However, she reaches beyond the knee jerk reaction and indoctrinated posture of earlier generations of Jews, who taught their children to hate all Poles for the actions of some, or bought into those prejudices without any objective considerations of their own Even Newsweek magazine once ran an editorial describing Poles as inherently anti Semitic, inferring some freakish genetic predisposition to hate Jews Einhorn reaches back into the Middle Ages, reminding Jewish readers that it was a Polish king who opened the doors of his then mighty nation to the Jews, who were being slaughtered in every other European nation at the time This was the reason that so many Jews were living in Poland when the Nazi holocaust hit because they d thrived in Poland for centuries She also compares the situation of Poles during WW2 against other occupied European peoples, people who collaborated freely with the Nazis, suffered much less than the Poles did under Nazi occupation, yet were given a pass by Jewish historians She covers all sides of the arguments as they played out in her head, applying her journalistic objectivity to her own subjective conscience as she weighed a multitude of historical facts and exorcised her own prejudices.But Einhorn s book isn t just about Polish Jewish relations It s mainly about her personal quest to investigate the facts about her mother s tale of being saved from the Nazi genocide, and she applies the same soul searching honesty to that quest, and to her relationship with her mother and other family members.Einhorn s ability as a writer to illuminate in great detail the complex mental processes she endured along her journey the doubts, fears, frustrations, not only of the unfolding story in Poland but also of her hot and cold relationship with her dying mother is especially impressive.Lovers of great literature will appreciate the beauty and fluidity of her prose Unlike the blunt, clunky writing of some journalists turned author, this book flows like a stream through a fascinating landscape Big ideas sprout from simple sentences She has a flair for creating and maintaining intrigue, and is very effective at bringing her readers along on her journey, rewarding them with subtle revelations and colorful details.If you have preconceived ideas about the Poles or life in Poland this book will likely change them If you enjoy emotionally charged stories about family relationships, particularly mother daughter relationships, this book will move you to tears.This book would be a great gift for a friend or family member who is either of Polish or Jewish descent, or for anyone who loves great writing It s also a great book for aspiring writers who can learn a lot from the author s masterful balance of language and clarity I gave it 5 stars Ten would have been appropriate. Erin Einhorn s mother Irene born Irena Frydrych survived World War II as a Jewish child in hiding with a Polish family Her father lived to be liberated from the concentration camps and claimed her after the war, and they eventually made their way to America via Sweden Irene always claimed to remember very little of her childhood, but Erin, who grew up to be a journalist, wanted to know , so she began doing her own research Almost against her will, her mother becomes interested in what Erin is learning, and Erin decides to extend her research by journeying to Poland and Sweden, despite misgivings over Poland s history of anti Semitism After a few months, she plans to bring her mother back with her to share what she s learned.Erin succeeds in locating the descendants of the family that saved her mother, still living in the same home which she is surprised to learn still belongs to her mother s family The family who sheltered Irene, the Skowro skis, claim that Erin s grandfather offered them the house in exchange for keeping his daughter safe, but nothing official was ever done to give them possession, and Poland s years under Communist rule further complicated property ownership issues Now that a Frydrych descendant has found them, the Skowro skis want Erin s help with the house, and she finds that she needs to learn about even distant relations as well as Polish property laws However, she no longer has her original motivation for the project just a few months into her year abroad, her mother dies of cancer, and Erin questions why she continues to do this.Erin Einhorn s unconventional detective work and exploration of family history make The Pages in Between an intriguing story, although at times I found it slow going Einhorn is interested in putting a narrative together, and one of the things that fascinates her is what would motivate a Christian family in a country with a strongly anti Semitic tradition to protect a Jewish child from the Nazis it seems that the motivation was a house Meanwhile, she remains curious, and somewhat conflicted, about modern Poland s relationship with the Jewish people and while it does have some relevance to her story, I found that the sections where she dwelled on that disrupted the book for me The personal, family, and even property history interested me , although sometimes the names got a little confusing Einhorn s writing is engaging, however, and despite the slow patches, much of the time the narrative flows along The year in Poland is a frustrating and sometimes difficult one I empathized with her struggles and enjoyed her successes with her The Places in Between isn t a feel good book, but it s a well crafted and at times fascinating one. What an unusual holocaust book This one is not the story of a holocaust survivor Rather, it s the story of her daughter s journey to learn about her mother s story Erin moves to Poland for a year to try to learn about her mother s time during the war, when she was cared for by a Polish woman She learns that although her grandfather deeded use of the home he had to abandon to his daughter s caretaker, the now deceased caretaker s family is less than happy with the current situation.Erin learns details of her family history, and tries to come to terms with a Poland that is almost devoid of Jewish residents but which is fascinated by Jews and Judaica She tries to balance preserved Auschwitz with real life Polish towns and cities that have moved past the war Her mother s caretaker s family welcomes her, but then pesters her relentlessly to take care of the real estate situation Are they horrible people Jew haters She s not sure what to make of them.So this is really the story of Erin s attempt to reconcile the sadness and horror that are her family s history with the need to move beyond Although the ending felt a little hurried, there are passages where she gives the reader the ability to see from her constantly shifting perspective One passage that I found especially moving is the following Erin has found some documentation of her great uncle s wedding when some of the family who had already moved to the US went back to Poland to celebrate It was difficult to imagine them on December 31, 1938 and not see the celebrants as stupidly doomed, like climbers on the summit of Everest, oblivious to the storm below, laughing and snapping pictures I wanted to reach back through the years and shout at them You fools Stop dancing Get out Standing on this end of the time line, trying to see back through the decades, through the nineties, the eighties, the seventies, the sixties, the fifties, the fire and fury that scorched through the blistering forties, it was impossible to see them clearly beyond the smoke, beyond the blood and the horror A really fascinating read When the author was struggling with this story she s a journalist she submitted it as an idea to Ira Glass This American Life Here s a link to that story Journalist Erin Einhorn has always been curious about her mother s story of survival in Poland during WW II as she was taken in by a Polish family after being smuggled out of the Krakow ghetto Her mother, on the other hand, was not much interested in discussing her past, other than to say she had been loved, both by her Polish foster mother, and then by the Swedish family she lived with temporarily before being reunited with her father and his new wife Erin sets out for Poland, determined to flush out the details, and finds an elderly man who tearfully remembers his little sister who disappeared one day and a complicated story of property rights with various generations of the family claiming that her grandfather had given the house to them in exchange for the life of his daughter With her mother suddenly dead of cancer, and only a few extant documents, Erin tries to do the right thing, feeling and browbeaten by inlaws and the younger generation What is the debt owed for a life that lead to her mother s survival and her life and her brother s How many thousands of dollars should she spend trying to untangle the post communist Polish bureaucracy that tried to destroy her family And what of the current celebration of pseudo Jewish culture of young Poles No one comes out clean in this memoir, except for the family in Sweden who took care of her mother briefly An interesting read, full of interesting dilemmas. I first heard Einhorn s story on NPR on This American Life Einhorn s mother was sheltered by a Polish family during the holocaust In exchange for saving his infant daughter, Einhorn s grandfather bequeathed the family home Sixty years later Einhorn travels to Poland to visit the family that took her mother into hiding and who still reside in the same home So begins the tangled web of Einhorn s journey into deciphering what actually happened The story is complicated and full of bureaucracy Einhorn s mother is very uncooperative in detailing information for Erin, wanting to put that period of her life behind her Even after thorough and painstaking research, the author unearths very little information and becomes mired in complexities without providing much substance to deliver a cohesive conclusion.I found the author s examination of Polish and Jewish history and modern day relations interesting and educational This story was captivating as an NPR piece and would have also been a fascinating short story, but based on the actual facts that Einhorn was able to unveil, it made for a less than satisfying book. I felt like this book was a good follow on after reading Neighbors, about the city in Poland where the Polish half the town murdered the Jewish half The author travels to Poland in search of her mothers roots To find out what happened when she was hidden as a child by a Polish family Along the way she talks about how Poles feel about Jews today and how there is a variety of views but mostly positive feeling about the Jews Nevertheless, feelings of Jews who left Poland, and their families who know their stories, remain resentful And this is fair in many cases Most young adults in Poland did not grow up with Jews because they had been chased out or killed off Their view, though positive, is frequently tinged with nostalgia for cultural diversity they ve never experienced but imagine only the positive aspects of The author s story about her family and discovering that the way her mother described her childhood and how it actually was did not always match up It is interesting how sometimes unhappy children see their past very differently that others see it. This book was different than I thought it would be, but I actually liked it even because of that As a researcher I m always fascinated by other researchers processes, and I love when people will stop at nothing to find answers to their questions Even though there was much left unresolved, I was very invested in Erin s story since that s what this book is about It s about Erin and her quest to learn about her family and about her own limits and identity than it s about her family I ve had a lifelong passion for my own personal genealogy and would love to embark on a quest like this someday I think Erin handled nuanced politics and culture with finesse and I m glad she let us follow along with her thought process, even when some of the logic was muddled by emotions A very good read Do you remember that story on This American Life about a woman who goes to Poland to find the family that saved her mother during the war Well this is the book of that story Her mother was hidden as a baby by a woman in Poland until her father could come get her take her to the US She never saw these people or heard from them again Her daughter is fascinated by the story, moves to Poland to find them try to find out what happened to her grandparents her mother during the war She ends up embroiled in a property dispute with the family in Poland She tries to help them, but is blocked by bureaucracy, unfamiliarity with the language, and the decades of bad feelings from both her family theirs that she tries to unravel Interesting look at the relationship between modern Poland and Jewish people today.
Erin Einhorn is a reporter for the New York Daily News where she s covered New York City s government and the nation s largest public school system She has written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Fortune A contributor to public radio s This American Life, Einhorn s story was the basis for one of the show s most popular episodes She lives in New York City.
- Kindle Edition
- 290 pages
- The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home
- Erin Einhorn
- 11 July 2018 Erin Einhorn