And No More Sorrow by Liliane Pelzman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The author, Liliane Pelzman, is a radio broadcasting professional, and her training must have influenced the persistence with which she was able to interview her mother over time. That she brought this project to fruition proves both her love for her mother, and her dedication to reporting on our times, and the past that shapes us.
Each chapter starts with a snippet of a telephone conversation between mother and daughter. Three things become clear right off the bat: the mother is in pain, the daughter can't be with her all the time, and they are both fixated on WWII; they share an interest in books and films that cover the Holocaust.
These short conversations are followed by subtle reflections of the daughter on what has been known as the Second Generation Holocaust Syndrome since the mid-to-late 1970s.
What happened to Sonja, the author's mother, just before, during, and after WWII, is told from a close third person point of view. The reader is in Sonja's head, accompanies her as she falls in love, as she's deported to concentration camps, lives in degrading circumstances, loses the love of her live, survives the war by a hair, remarries and builds a new life on the ruins of the old.
Holocaust survivors didn't readily (and some still don't) accept the notion that their children would be suffering from their [parents'] war and camp experiences. Survivors talked, or didn't talk about the war. Within one family it was possible to have one parent who spilled memories constantly, while the other kept mum, in another family the pact between the parents could be —not to ever mention the monstrosities they had experienced. Either way, the children are affected; whether through the telling of stories, or by silence, the feelings related to the Holocaust are transmitted as though by osmosis.
Liliane Pelzman's mother is unaware that she talked about her experiences to her children. Liliane, not wanting to hear the stories as a child, escapes Post-WWII Amsterdam at sixteen.
It isn't until she hears Holocaust deniers on American radio, that she decides her mother's story needs to be told. Asking the questions she could not ask before, help her to get to know her mother, and the answers clarify the nature of Liliane's own fears, and sensitivities experienced as an adult.
And No More Sorrow is a heroic love story, a close account of the ordeal suffered by Sonja during WWII, as well as the story of her daughter Liliane.
Children of Holocaust Survivors did not experience the monstrous events first hand, but they live with the emotions of second hand fear. Everyday events may trigger responses in members of the Second Generation, that seem out of proportion. Inadvertently they've been outfitted with an extra dosage of the flight or fight hormone.
With And No More Sorrow Liliane Pelzman tell the story of surviving generations of the Holocaust.
This book is a must-read for those interested in the history and aftermath of WWII in the Netherlands, and first person accounts of concentration camps.
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This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License