I was fifteen years old when I learned that I came from a family of Holocaust survivors. The discovery sparked a dizzying array of questions, the most unsettling of which: Why was I just learning this now? I tried to imagine my quirky, ebullient relatives on the set of Schindler’s List, but I couldn’t. Where were the horror stories? The Polish accents? The yarmulkes and Seder dinners? In search of answers, I began digging, little by little unearthing a family history unlike any I’d ever heard before.
My family, by all accounts, shouldn’t have survived the Holocaust. The odds were against them. But they did survive, and their stories are too remarkable to be left untold. I won’t divulge them here, but I will share with you what prompted me to write them down, and what, exactly, piecing together a chapter of my family history that spans seven years and five continents entails.
Researching The Lucky Ones* has been a heck of a road trip, replete with unexpected detours, prolonged pit stops, and slow, uphill slogs. I’ve listened. I’ve cringed. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve racked up enough Delta skymiles to earn platinum medallion status, and I’ve seriously contemplated adding Detective before Writer on my business card. But as daunting as this project has seemed at times, I’m reminded often that my journey is a cakewalk compared to the one I’m researching—and that alone keeps me trucking.
*The Lucky Ones is a working title.
Read about the family reunion that kickstarted this project in the blog post below: