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PUBLICATION DATE: April 20, 2023
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The Memory Keeper: A Journey Into the Holocaust to Find My Family
By (author) Jackie Kohnstamm
Jackie Kohnstamm’s mother rarely talked about what had happened during the war and had kept little evidence of her early life. It was only after her uncle and aunt had died that Jackie inherited an archive of material relating to the family back in Germany. Jackie’s mother had managed to get out of Berlin in 1936, following her brother and sister who had already escaped. But Jackie’s grandparents had remained.One night, on a whim, Jackie Googled her grandparents’ names. What she found felt like a sign: four days earlier two Stolpersteine (‘stumble stones’) had been laid in their names outside the house in Berlin where they had once lived. Someone had commissioned this memorial to her grandparents. Each listed their name, year of birth, date of deportation to Theresienstadt and date of their murder by the Nazis. Here, then, was the first step, and what followed was a remarkable story of loss, discovery and memory.
Reviews of The Memory Keeper: A Journey Into the Holocaust to Find My Family
Jackie Kohnstamm has created a beautifully heartbreaking book about remembering and forgetting, loving and missing, the deep impact of absences in any life and the wonderful, terrible interconnectedness of our selves. She wears her research lightly, deftly and just writes so well. Kohnstamm becomes historian for her family and, in a way, for millions of families shattered and evaporated by hatred, obsession and war. Our journey with her has great darkness, but also great tenderness, wisdom, joy — A. L. KENNEDY
Jackie Kohnstamm grew up in North London, where she still lives. She studied an ancient Jewish community in France for her PhD, never guessing how the skills acquired then would later help her delve into her own family story. She has lectured in higher education and written short stories and plays for BBC radio and the stage. Jackie is nourished by lengthy meals with friends and by her garden on the wild side. If she hits a winning shot at tennis, that’s a bonus. The Memory Keeper is her first book.