Local Author Heidi Fishman Brings to Life Her Family's Stories of Surviving the Holocaust
May 18, 2017 04:26PM ● Published by Linda Ditch
Here are some answers she shared to questions about the book and how she put it together:
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: I grew up with the knowledge that my mother was a Holocaust survivor. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. My grandparents’ friends were Holocaust survivors. So I didn’t realize how big a deal it was as a child. It was just who my mother was.
Starting about 10 years ago, my mother began talking about her experiences during the war at schools in Connecticut. The students were transfixed. They were amazed that they were meeting someone who was there—who lived the history they were learning about in school. It was after she spoke to my daughter’s seventh-grade class that I realized I had to write the story down or it would be lost. She won’t be around forever to be a witness to history, and future generations need to know that these things really happened.
Q: What part of the story touched you the most?
A: I started by focusing on my mother's memories. But there were holes. Some things just didn’t add up. So I started to do some research to see if I could find some explanations. One of my first discoveries was a document used during Adolf Eichmann’s trial that had my grandfather’s name on it. That grabbed my attention! Eichmann wrote in a memo (it was signed by his secretary) that seven Jews were not going to be given special treatment even though the Minister of Armaments and Munitions was requesting that their lives be spared. Two top Nazis were arguing over the fate of my grandfather. That discovery was very exciting for me.
As far as a more emotionally poignant moment—and this one actually didn’t end up in the book—was how my grandfather helped a friend of his. The friend and his wife had to go to a concentration camp, and they left their infant daughter in hiding. My grandfather acted as a messenger for this family, as he was given passes to leave the camp. When he left the camp, he would check on the baby for the family and report back to the parents about how she was doing. I am sure it helped them keep their spirits up during their ordeal.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?
A: One of my goals with Tutti’s Promise is to teach middle school and high school students about the Holocaust. I have a website (www.kheidifishman.com) that can be used in tandem with the book. It has discussion questions, links to museums and research websites, family photos, primary documents, and video snippets of my mother’s Shoah testimony from the Shoah Foundation at USC.
Learn more about Heidi and her work by visiting her website.