Friday, April 19, 2024 -
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How long does a Holocaust debt live on?

IN her novel, The Pages in Between, Erin Einhorn brings Holocaust novel writing into a new era. She deals with the unexpected relationship between survivors and their non-Jewish saviors and the next generation of both.

An American journalist, Einhorn sets out to revisit her mother’s ancestral home in Bedzin, Poland, hoping to find the woman who saved her mother in 1941.

As is often the case when revisiting old family history, Einhorn learns more about herself, as she uncovers the details of her mother’s true story of survival.

“My mother always said, ‘I had an easy childhood, I was lucky, I was always loved,’” Einhorn writes. But her journalistic hunch told her that there may be a different story. Otherwise, why would her family always put down the woman, Honorata Skowronski, who saved her mother and say that she had done it only for the money? Why hadn’t the families kept in touch?

Einhorn travels to Poland and, at first, finds this romantic, idealized fantasy reunion, hoping to bring the rest of her Frydrych family and the Skowronskis together again after 60 years.

But soon finds herself as a conflicted character entwined in a legal mess created in desperate moments that can only happen during a Holocaust.

Emotionally laden and filled with unexpected surprises, The Pages in Between combines the voice of a personal journey, the research skills of a historian and the curiosity of a journalist.

Einhorn questions the varacity of memory, especially those born of tragic times. Many Holocaust survivors are left with one heirloom: the family story of survival. But is it just a story, a legend, a fictional memory to help everyone deal with the trauma of the loss? Or is the story an accurate, accounting of the truth? To answer this question, Einhorn turns to what she is most comfortable with, researching a story, newspaper style. She spends months traveling the backwaters of Poland to the archives of many former-Eastern European towns to find her family’s story.

Einhorn ends up with all kinds of information that may help her resolve the long-held dispute between the Frydrychs and Skowronskis. But she also finds herself reliving the same position her own grandfather held in relation to that Polish family: perhaps, that of the villain.

Between the Pages is an intriguing read, especially since Einhorn continues her efforts long after the publication the book.

Her journey leads her to ask one of the most intense questions that arises from the Holocaust: How long does a debt live on?

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