On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein's father snatched his stamped
exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife
and child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, only
letters from their extended family could reach Canada through the
barriers of conflict. The Waldstein family received these letters as
they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they learned to
be Canadian and forget their Jewish roots.
Helen Waldstein read these letters as an adult - this changed
everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the
trail of the letters back to Europe, where she discovered living
witnesses who could attest to the letters' contents. She has here
interwoven their stories and her own into a compelling narrative of
suffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles
when exploring a traumatic past.
Since receiving her Ph.D in French Literature, Helen Waldstein Wilkes spent 30 years teaching at every level in Canada and in the U.S. Her research interests include cross-cultural understanding, language acquisition, and neurolinguistics. Now retired and living in Vancouver, she is actively examining her own cultural inheritance and its impact.
Foreword Preface Acknowledgements Map Family Tree Opening the Box Leaving Home Letters to Antwerp Starting Over Letters to Canada Searching In Europe: 1997-1998 My Aunts and Uncles My Grandparents War Breaks Out The Family Copes The Letters Stop Imagining After the War Finding Home Searching for Family Again Searching for Family One Last Time Epilogue Endnotes Selected Bibliography