I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors distills, through text and drawings, including panels in the comic-book format, Bernice Eisenstein’s memories of her 1950s’ childhood in Toronto with her Yiddish-speaking parents, whose often unspoken experiences of war were nevertheless always present. The memories also draw on inherited fragments of stories about relatives lost to the war whom she never met.
Eisenstein’s parents met in Auschwitz, near the end of the war and were married shortly after Liberation. The book began to take root in her imagination several years ago, almost a decade after her father’s death.
With poignancy and searing honesty, Eisenstein explores with ineffable sadness and bittersweet humour her childhood growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust. But more than a book about the Holocaust and its far-reaching shadows, this moving, visually ravishing graphic memoir speaks universally about memory, loss, and recovery of the past.
No one who sees this book will not be deeply affected by its beautiful, highly evocative writing and brilliantly original and haunting artwork created by the author. I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors is destined to become a classic.
“I am lost in memory. It is not a place that has been mapped, fixed by coordinates of longitude and latitude, whereby I can retrace a step and come to the same place again. Each time is different. . . .
“While my father was alive, I searched to find his face among those documented
photographs of survivors of Auschwitz — actually, photos from any camp would do. If I could see him staring out through barbed wire, I thought I would then know how to remember him, know what he was made to become, and then possibly know what he might have been. All my life, I’ve looked for more in order to fill in the parts of my father that had gone missing. . . .”
—Excerpts from I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors
About the Author
Bernice Eisenstein was born in 1949 in Toronto, shortly after her parents immigrated to Canada. She is an artist whose illustrations have appeared in a variety of Canadian magazines and periodicals, including the Globe and Mail. She has worked as a freelance editor while also writing the occasional book review for the Globe and Mail. She lives in Toronto.
Praise for I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors…
“A powerful and emotionally charged memoir. . . . Some of the best writing ever on the subject of the 20th century’s most brutal human catastrophe.”
— NOW magazine (5-star review)
“A uniquely gripping articulation of the heart. . . . An emotional and aesthetic triumph.”
— Canadian Jewish News
“Beautifully conceived and constructed, intimate and engrossing.”
— Quill & Quire
“The most lucid, funny, moving book I encountered in 2006. . . . Remarkable. . . .”
— Molly Peacock, Globe and Mail Books of the Year